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Making Sense Webinar Wrap-Up: Improving Refrigerated Marine Container Management with Pervasive Connectivity

The journey of a marine refrigerated (reefer) container from the producer to the consumer is fraught with many challenges. When you consider all the transit trials these containers are presented with, maintaining a consistent setpoint of -40 °C to +30 °C throughout the transport process is no small task. From high ambient temperatures and extreme environments to excessive handling due to a variety of logistic delays and intermodal shifts, there are many factors that can place container contents in jeopardy. Some shipping companies rely on pervasive connectivity to their container fleets to monitor perishable cargos throughout the process and troubleshoot issues along the way.

In our most recent Making Sense webinar installment, I discussed Emerson Climate Technologies’ approach to reefer container management through pervasive connectivity. Beyond the shipper’s goal to improve profit margins, there are many trends driving the growing adoption of on-board diagnostic systems, including: regulatory governance of perishables; continued focus on improving energy consumption; expansion of global systems for mobile communications (GSM); and ever-increasing consumer expectations. All of these factors make pervasive connectivity a sound investment for shipping companies that want to stay competitive.

I also discussed the many advantages of deploying pervasive connectivity on reefer containers, and how such solutions allows the shipper to monitor key transit activities in specific geographic zones, such as: route verification, confirmation of final delivery, and automated, on-site notifications to alert handlers and minimize delays. Advanced diagnostic capabilities give shipping company administrators a window into reefer container conditions. Everything from g-force detection and setpoint temperature deviations to prolonged “off” periods are visible to the administrators through advanced event handling and alert notifications.

With the many benefits that on-board, pervasive connectivity provides, the reasons for adopting this technology to improve shipping line operational efficiency are obvious. Reduced energy costs, maintenance, incident claims and handling costs combined with increased revenue and precise container utilization create a strong business case for adoption.

To listen to an archived recording of this webinar and learn more about pervasive connectivity on reefer containers, please visit our Making Sense website, where we make sense of the issues that matter most in commercial refrigeration today.

Robert Svensson
Marketing Manager
Emerson Climate Technologies, Transportation Solutions

Store Operations and Facilities in Retail: Opposites May Not Attract, but They Can Work Well Together

Store Operations and Facilities in Retail

For every decision made by the facilities team in a retail environment – from maintenance and energy to design and construction – store operations are the primary stakeholders in those decisions. So, what is the relationship between store operations and facilities?

These groups may work closely together within some retail organizations, but that is not always the case. While the overall goal for both groups in a retail environment is the same, there are several differences between them that may make it difficult to work together toward that goal. Yet, recognizing these differences and using them to understand how the other group works can result in opportunities to enhance facility processes and improve store operations – and ultimately provide a better customer experience.

In general, one of the biggest differences is that the facilities team works “behind the scenes” and the store operations team is often interfacing directly with consumers. With facility management, the focus is more on capital and finding innovative ways to enhance processes that reduce costs or result in energy savings, while the performance of the store operations is measured by sales. This results in a large amount of external or market-based pressure on operations, while the pressure on facilities comes from within the organization. Store operations professionals often have a sales, marketing or business mindset, while the facilities team is likely made up of professionals with engineering backgrounds. There is often higher turnover within the operations team, and a store director or captain often has a larger team to manage. Operations may consist of about 300 employees, while facilities may have, on average, about 10-20 employees.

Below are six tips for the facilities team to work together with the store operations team to enhance facility processes and improve operations:

  • Engage more. Be more visible and engage with them.Take the time to go out to the stores and engage with the operations team, if you are able to.
  • Use facilities data in their report formats. Ask the store manager to see his/her daily or weekly store report to better understand how the store is measured. Find out the areas they tend to focus on most. Take the facility maintenance and energy data you’ve compiled and provide it to the store team in a format that will fit well in the report shared with their manager.
  • Relate what you do with how they are measured. Take the areas where store operations is evaluated – i.e., total sales, dollars sold per hour worked, average items per sale, margin and shrink – and, if it makes sense, find ways to equate them to case availability, dollars sold per alarm, dollars sold per maintenance hour, margin loss of energy increases and shrink related to refrigeration issues.
  • Educate. Identify opportunities tohelp the store operations team better understand your strategy and processes. Consider implementing an energy awareness program or invest time in store awareness mechanisms. You may post photos for associates to show how to properly stock a case. Sharing infrared images with store directors can help them see when a case has been overstocked, which to reduce customer complaints about cold aisles.
  • Help their staff be efficient. Provide the store operations team with tools and information that can allow them to work more efficiently.
  • Make training easy. Simplify training on facility maintenance processes for store operations. Show them what to do when a problem occurs and explain the way a system works to illustrate why your approach is the best way to relegate the issue.
  • Eliminate nuisance calls and false alarms. This may be the biggest one on the list. Too many false alarms and nuisance calls can harm your relationship with the store operations team. If you are able to ensure that the alarms and calls they receive occur only when an issue needs to be addressed, a store director will place higher importance on the alarms and will see the value your team can provide in improving his/her operations.

The outcome of improved relationships between store operations and facilities drives down costs and improves satisfaction, resulting in a better overall retail environment.

Are you a retail facility manager or engineer? What is your experience in working with store operations? Please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

Paul Hepperla
Director of New Solutions and Product Management, Retail Solutions
Emerson Climate Technologies

Keep the Door Closed! And Other Benefits of an Effective Control Strategy for Convenience Stores

Keep the Door Closed! And Other Benefits of an Effective Control Strategy for Convenience Stores

As I shared in a recent blog post, installation of a facility control system can provide savings and improve operations of a convenience store. Refrigeration, lighting and HVAC are the three key areas included in a store-level control strategy. While each area of controls can be set up separately, a control system works best and is most cost effective when all three levels are combined under one platform. Below are benefits and strategies of using system controls at each level.

  • Refrigeration Controls: An installation of electronic controls in a refrigeration system can help to not only reduce compressor run time, but also assist with monitoring the opening and closing of case doors. Leveraging alarm management in refrigeration cases can alert you to potential issues and prevent food loss. Using the monitoring data from your refrigeration system controls can allow you to be more proactive with your strategy and reduce overall maintenance expenses.
  • Lighting Controls: With lighting controls, a store can ensure that various lights are turned on and off at the times they should be. Controls can be put in place for ambient light, dimming and modulation. Lighting schedules can be automated and maintained through a control system, ensuring store lighting procedures are followed.
  • HVAC Controls: A key benefit to having HVAC system controls is the ability to program thermostat setpoints appropriately. Controls also help to ensure policies are implemented correctly at each store – for example, restrictions on override capabilities can be set during specific times through the supervisory control system.

Keep the Door Closed!

Why is it important to use controls to ensure store policies are being enforced? Based on a study we conducted with a customer around walk-in doors, we found that store personnel or vendors have a tendency to prop open these doors for various reasons. The industry average shows that walk-in doors are open about 25 percent of the time. While the amount of refrigeration varies by store, this could equal about 19.8 KWh or $2 per day, which amounts to about $730 per year in energy usage costs.

Using a supervisory system for monitoring, an alarm can sound when a walk-in door is left open for too long, giving a store manager the insight to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Adding the enterprise management level onto the controls allows you to collect data across all stores within an enterprise to identify problem sites and make corrections to result in cost savings.

For more information on convenience store solutions, check back here over the next several weeks for additional blog posts on this topic.

Questions or feedback? Please share in the comments below.

John Wallace
Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions
Emerson Climate Technologies

MAKING SENSE of Refrigerated Marine Container Management

The global cold chain container business is fraught with challenges that can incrementally chip away at an operator’s profit margins. Whether it’s at storage, in trip preparation, sitting dockside, en route or at loading/unloading points, there are any number of occasions where your refrigerated marine container fleet can be compromised — and the integrity of cargo itself placed in jeopardy. Manual reefer inspections, container malfunctions that lead to spoiled cargo and human error can quickly add up to shrinking profits.

Refrigerated marine container operators need an edge to stay ahead of the competition and maintain profitability. The difference between surviving and thriving in this environment is a matter of managing the smallest details, maximizing energy and operational efficiencies, and promoting human safety.

Join Our Next Webinar, Tuesday, July 8 at 9 a.m. EDT, 3 p.m. CEST

In our next MAKING SENSE webinar, we will explore how to gain this competitive advantage in a discussion entitled: Improving Refrigerated Marine Container Management With Pervasive Connectivity. The webinar will present Emerson Climate Technologies’ approach to maximizing global cold chain efficiencies through our advanced hardware and software solutions for refrigerated marine container fleets. We will explain how reefer management systems installed on these containers enable remote diagnostics, establish efficient operations and help maintain perfect cargo conditions. The topics covered will include:

  • Reducing operational costs and eliminating manual operations
  • Improving cargo quality with proactive alerts
  • Reducing human error and improving safety
  • Achieving energy savings and reducing CO2 emissions

This educational webinar will be presented by Robert Svensson, marketing manager at Emerson Climate Technologies — Transportation Solutions, ApS, a business of Emerson. Robert initially joined the Marine Container and Boiler business of Johnson Controls, Inc. (which Emerson acquired in April 2012) as a product manager for ISO10368 remote monitoring, but has since assumed responsibility for strategic planning, marketing and product management at Emerson Climate Technologies — Transportation Solutions.

Join Robert on Tuesday, July 8 at 9 a.m. EDT, 3 p.m. CEST for his expert perspective on refrigerated marine container management. Register now by visiting our website at: www.emersonclimate.com/makingsensewebinars. We’re helping the industry MAKE SENSE of the issues that matter most.

Craig Raney
Director of Marketing, Refrigeration
Emerson Climate Technologies

Natural Refrigerants: Making Sense Webinar Wrap-up

The use of natural refrigerants is nothing new in the refrigeration industry. In the early days of refrigeration, carbon dioxide (CO2) and ammonia were often the refrigerants of choice, but were later replaced by modern synthetic chemical options. Today, global phase-downs (and even bans) of hydroflourocarbon (HFC) refrigerants are part of an increasing effort to lower the global warming potential (GWP) in refrigeration and/or air conditioning systems. As a result, natural refrigerants, which often have little to no GWP, have come full circle and are being specified in commercial refrigeration systems more frequently. In my recent Making Sense webinar, I explored the viability of natural refrigerants and their implication on refrigeration system design.

The most common natural refrigerants returning to the commercial refrigeration landscape are propane (R-290), isobutene (R-600a), ammonia (R-717) and, most commonly, CO2 (R-744). While each refrigerant poses its own unique handing and operating parameters — from increased pressures and capacity to flammability and toxicity concerns — the ozone depletion potential (ODP) and GWP of natural refrigerants are virtually zero.

CO2 has many properties that make it an extremely viable refrigerant today:

  • ODP = 0; GWP = 1
  • Non-toxic, non-flammable, odorless
  • Lower viscosity, meaning smaller line sizes vs. HFC piping systems
  • Less sensitive to pressure drops
  • Smaller refrigerant charge
  • Less expensive than HFCs
  • Better system performance vs. HFC systems under most conditions.

Like all natural refrigerants, the key to successfully using CO2 in modern refrigeration systems is to specify equipment that is designed for CO2 utilization. Globally, CO2-based refrigeration systems are gaining wider adoption than in the United States, and are typically based on one of the following system types: secondary, cascade and transcritical booster.

As we look for ways to reduce our collective carbon footprint in the future, there’s no question that CO2 (and other natural refrigerants) will be used more frequently in commercial refrigeration systems. It will become increasingly important for commercial retailers, system designers and contractors to understand the safety, performance, economic and environmental implications of the refrigeration systems that use this emerging class of natural refrigerants.

To listen to an archived recording of my webinar and learn more about natural refrigerants, please visit our Making Sense website, where we make sense of the issues that matter most in commercial refrigeration today.

Andre Patenaude
Director — CO2 Business Development
Emerson Climate Technologies

 

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