In the U.S., the vast majority of refrigeration cases are controlled via circuit control. Yet, implementing individual case control leads to lower energy costs for retailers. At our 2014 Technology in Action Conference, we brought together three retail end users who are currently using case control in their supermarkets for a panel discussion on this topic. We addressed the benefits and challenges of installing case control, as well as asked the panelists to share their personal experiences with actual deployments.
During this discussion, a consensus emerged among the panel of retailers – each of whom is based in the Northeast region of the U.S., where there is currently a high concentration of case control stores. Each of the panelists shared that their companies are implementing case control in some way – as they remodel stores and build new facilities. As advocates for case control, they all agreed that its benefits and savings outweigh the potential challenges.
Below are six arguments – and some tips for successful implementation – from actual end users that make the case for case control:
- Case control installation is cost-effective. Installation with case control will be less expensive than the costs seen with a conventional mechanical valve store. With case control, you are able to drive down the electrical installation costs. Stores with conventional valves may also take longer to set up. Less time is spent on the case installation and set up with case control because a lot of the work can be done ahead of time; this allows the other store teams to work in conjunction with the case installation. You can set shelves, bring in groceries and burn off cooking equipment while the installation happens, rather than waiting until a case is full to the load line and environmental conditions are set.
- A kickoff meeting with prospective bidders is a crucial first step for a new project. When bidding a new project, it helps to ensure all parties involved understand the plan and specifications. A kickoff meeting allows you to sit down and explain the design methodology and how it differs from conventional systems. If you expect to see lower electrical installation costs, make sure you state this to the prospective bidders. It’s also important to have quality instruction documentation to support your project expectations.
- Training is critical when adopting case controls. Everyone involved needs to know how to use the equipment. Set up training for the mechanics so that they not only understand how the controls work, but also explain why you’ve elected to use case control. Making sure they understand the concept and getting the mechanics on board with case control can go a long way in helping them take ownership of the startup and maintenance of the equipment.
- When ordering new cases, have the controls mounted in the cases by the manufacturer. With high labor costs, you’ll see savings with ordering the controls already installed in new cases. You will still need to allocate time after the cases are installed to make sure that all connections are tight and the wiring is set up correctly, but opting for manufacturer installed controls will also allow for quicker installation.
- Use case controls to better manage your facility and your maintenance teams. Case controls provide a better level of visibility and control of your facilities. The data collected provides valuable information to help evaluate a problem and diagnose it properly. If something isn’t working correctly, technicians are able to call the supervision team, who has access to the system remotely, to help walk them through the issue. Technicians can also access system information on a smart phone or tablet while in the field. And, you can set restrictions to allow varying levels of access to the system information – or you can override the system, when needed. Electronic expansion valves can also help reduce truck rolls and decrease the inventory needed on technician trucks.
- There are different strategies for successful case control conversion. As case control is adopted by more retailers in the U.S., we’re seeing different approaches to case control conversion by various organizations. Some have opted to switch their stores to case control as they remodel, retrofitting the cases in any stores going through a remodel with electronic controls at that time. And for larger remodels, they may order new cases with the controls factory installed. Another method is to go into existing stores with conventional systems for an energy conversion project and retrofit the cases with electronic controls; this may be done with a controlled conversion, switching a few racks in a store at a time, or by converting the whole store. And with new builds, many opt to simplify the electrical construction by installing case control from the start.
For more information on Emerson Climate Technologies offering of case controls for supermarkets and convenience stores, please visit the XM Series Case Control page on our website.
Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions
Emerson Climate Technologies