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Posts from the ‘Technology’ Category

Evaluating Supermarket Energy Management Strategies

JamesJackson_Blog_Image James Jackson | Business Development Manager
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

I recently authored an article for Facility Executive that discussed how energy management systems (EMS) are helping to reshape how the food retail industry approaches energy efficiency and demand planning. Read the full article here.

Evaluating Supermarket Energy Management Strategies

Corporations and consumers alike are always looking for ways to reduce energy costs. Nowhere is this more applicable than in supermarkets, where chains have many energy optimization opportunities among refrigeration, HVAC and lighting systems. The average 50,000 square foot store incurs $200,000 in annual energy costs, resulting in 1,900 tons of CO2 emissions (the equivalent of 360 vehicles) in one year. Of these costs, refrigeration and lighting account for more than 50 percent of total energy usage.

As the energy and utilities sectors continue to evolve, traditional approaches to energy management and demand response must also adapt to the changing landscape. Fortunately, with advances in EMS and controls technologies, food retailers can apply automation to achieve energy best practices. These tools not only provide full building ecosystem optimization but also help operators capitalize on the potential for energy savings via utility energy incentives and available demand management opportunities.

Consumption and Demand — The Difference

Understanding the difference between consumption and demand is essential for energy management planning. Consumption is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) and refers to the amount of energy used during a billing period. Demand represents the instantaneous energy load that a commercial customer (or building) places on the grid. Utility providers use this for base infrastructure planning and to determine total load requirements of the electrical system. When demand increases, providers must draw from additional — and often more expensive — resources like coal and other fossil fuels.

Utilities measure demand in kilowatts (kW) based upon the actual power a consumer draws. Because demand costs can be potentially higher than consumption — with charges ranging from a few to several dollars per kW — demand can account for a significant portion of a monthly bill.

Evolving Demand Response

Due to the rise of renewable generation, utility providers across the country are rethinking how to develop and deploy demand response programs. Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in California conducted a study that evaluated the state’s energy dynamics. The study showed that California is benefiting from an increase in solar power and the continued shift of demand from midday to evening hours. The addition of smart thermostats and controls in commercial and residential sectors is also helping the state optimize energy consumption.

The LBNL study findings are helping researchers understand the amount of flexible customer load available and evaluate different methods for getting customers to change energy consumption habits, such as time of use, peak pricing programs, and day- and hour-ahead energy market plans.

The opportunity to shift demand is seen as the greatest contributor to future grid flexibility — and potentially one of the biggest opportunities for energy savings.

Energy Management Solutions

Today, advances in EMS software and controls platforms are helping operators connect with utilities and automate their energy management programs. Among other emerging strategies used by supermarket operators are self-generation via thermal and battery storage and grid-interactive buildings.

Self-generation via Thermal and Battery Storage

Most utility providers encourage consumers to implement proven thermal and battery storage options to help shift demand from peak to off-peak hours. The concept of self-generation is simple: thermal (ice) creation and battery charging take place during off-peak hours to store energy that can be used during peak hours to help utilities offset demand.

Grid-interactive Buildings

As IoT-enabled EMS and smart devices provide unprecedented connectivity between consumers and utility companies, opportunities for greater cooperation and energy optimization are also on the rise. At the Department of Energy (DOE), the Building Technology Office (BTO) is conducting research through its Grid-interactive Efficient Building (GEB) initiative. One of their primary goals is to enable buildings to become more responsive to the electric grid conditions.

These and other tools can help facilities improve energy efficiency and achieve operational success in a quickly evolving energy market. At Emerson, we’re helping to simplify energy management challenges with smart EMS software and proven controls platforms designed to help supermarket and restaurant operators connect with utilities and automate energy-saving best practices.

The Path From IIoT to Predictive Maintenance for Commercial Refrigeration

JohnWallace_Blog_Image John Wallace | Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Emerson is writing a series of articles about the implications of new and transformative technologies for the commercial refrigeration industry. In our first article, I described the challenges and methodologies related to transforming a newfound wealth of data into true predictive maintenance capabilities. You can read the full article here.

 

One trend driving the commercial refrigeration industry’s rapid adoption of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies is the promise of predictive maintenance. Collecting massive amounts of real-time data comes with the potential to develop data-driven algorithms that can accurately predict looming problems and failures in refrigeration systems and equipment.

In the commercial refrigeration space, operators’ goals related to predictive maintenance are to reduce energy savings, lower maintenance and service costs, improve food quality and safety (and indirectly, customer experiences), increase comfort, and reduce downtime. So as IIoT technologies become more affordable, widely deployed and interconnected, a question naturally arises: “When will we see the results of these predictive maintenance capabilities?”

It’s a fair question. After all, some industries, such as industrial automation, are seeing rapid advances in their predictive maintenance capabilities. But many of these industries also have an inherent advantage: they’re often monitoring identical devices with well-defined historical performance models, making early problem detection relatively easy.

However, commercial refrigeration is a different ballgame. Commercial refrigeration applications are diverse and complex, making the development of their predictive maintenance capabilities far more challenging. Commercial refrigeration systems consist of many diverse and interdependent components, which often originate from multiple vendors. They encompass a wide range from traditional centralized direct expansion systems to an ever-expanding array of emerging architectures designed to achieve very specific operational (and more often, sustainability) objectives. Industry trends further complicate the issue, such as the adoption of new refrigerants and the migration from centralized to distributed, self-contained and integrated systems.

These complex systems differ in the amount, type and quality of the data they can provide — making data modeling and writing algorithms for different equipment even more difficult. Add more variables into the mix, such as weather, humidity and climate — not to mention widely varying operator goals, processes and workflows — and you can start to comprehend the depth of the challenge.

Developing predictive maintenance capabilities for commercial refrigeration is not a matter of simply pouring more data into the cloud via the IIoT. That data is as diverse as the equipment and systems which produce it. Determining the predictive potential of all that data requires fundamentally changing how we understand and approach the needs of the commercial refrigeration industry.

At Emerson, we’re tackling this challenge head on, taking a methodical, deliberate approach to predictive maintenance. Our goal is not to simply throw more IIoT technologies at the challenge. We’re working to help deliver on the promise of predictive maintenance by applying our deep knowledge of the commercial refrigeration space to help operators uncover the predictive value of data gathered from many different applications. By doing so, we’re simplifying the complexities and uncovering insights into the industry’s most common refrigeration scenarios.

We’re deriving predictive maintenance solutions from IIoT data via a three-pronged methodology: 1) understand the complexity of the domain and its individual systems; 2) define what data is relevant to which situations; and 3) determine how application sensors should be used to generate the necessary data. Then we can take the crucial step of developing tools to extrapolate true predictive maintenance answers from real-time and historical data.

In upcoming articles, Emerson will expand on these learnings and provide examples of how new technology is already being used for successful predictive maintenance programs in commercial refrigeration.

Accelerating Collaboration: The Future of Connectivity

Rajan Rajendran
Vice President System Innovation Center and Sustainability
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions


One of the key principals we are pursuing in our new facility, The Helix Innovation Center is the concept of looking at questions from unusual angles. So when we had the chance to pose a challenge to a diverse group of University of Dayton students, we asked them to tackle the subject of connectivity.

The program, part of the Collaboration Accelerator 2.0 brought together UD students majoring in mechanical and civil engineering, marketing, communications, visual arts and international studies, plus a recent Sinclair Community College graduate, to find creative solutions to real-world challenges.

The 11-week internship program culminated in an immersive experience that included an “idea file” that explores the true origin and “soul” of connectivity.

The students took a broad view, presenting connectivity as an element of mankind’s psychological needs. We were encouraged to think about the various forms connectivity has taken on over the last century. And how our human desire for connectivity is a factor of time, fear and efficiency.

The ideas, concepts and materials presented by these students are helping fuel our ideation sessions at The Helix and helping us take a new approach to some of the industry challenges we are tackling.

See the collaboration in action:

 

What industry challenges are you facing? Comment on this post and let’s leverage this form of connectivity to think creatively about new approaches to tackling them.

College Students Conceptualize the Supermarket of the Future

E-week challenge calls for a fresh approach and new thinking

Emerson Climate Technologies hosted the University of Dayton’s E-week Innovation Challenge at Emerson’s new Helix Innovation Center. The entrepreneurial student club EMpwr and engineering-based KEEN organization also co-sponsored the challenge.

Students

Read more

Five Advantages of Connected Technology for Contractors

I recently wrote an article featured in Contracting Business discussing a prominent industry trend: IoT and connected technology.

The adoption of new connected technology has a ripple effect in various areas of the industry. No one knows this better than contractors installing and servicing HVACR equipment. From supermarket to convenience stores and foodservice operators, connected technology can help to improve facility operations, reduce maintenance visits and ultimately lead to lower costs and more satisfied customers.

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This technology is now being called the Internet of Things (IoT) — a network of products like ovens and refrigerated cases that collectively gather and exchange data — which provides valuable insights to make retail businesses more nimble. In turn, contractors can use this technology to provide better service.

Here are five key advantages:

  1. Quicker, more accurate installations

Many facilities currently use similar systems for HVAC. Including additional connected technology and IoT for kitchen equipment can streamline their capabilities. IoT will save money and time as well, as the technology can provide data about activity and maintenance needs to the contractor. The equipment can then be configured automatically.

  1. Improve customer satisfaction and the bottom line

For regional and national products, IoT will decrease installation time from months to minutes. Instead of contractor visits or program disks or flash drives, IoT allows remote installation. This will ultimately ensure consistency and accuracy across regions. Maintenance will be more virtual as well, and technicians will no longer make onsite adjustments because contractors can monitor and update software remotely.

  1. Achieve efficiencies with remote monitoring and management

In cases when technicians must be dispatched, issues will be triaged and sent to those who can interpret them. This will save time by allowing technicians to bring correct repair equipment, instead of relying on store associates to analyze the problem.

  1. Extended service for additional opportunities

IoT provides service information to ensure that parts are replaced based on their use, not a pre-determined schedule. Detecting service issues early will also prevent them from escalating into more expensive repairs. Finally, the longevity of the client-contractor relationships might allow other item or service needs to be met.

  1. Making insights actionable

The increasing use of connected technologies offers powerful solutions for convenience stores and grocery retailers, and IoT is also causing contractors to become mainstays in the industry.

You can read the full Contracting Business article online here.

For more than 20 years, Emerson Retail Solutions has been helping businesses like yours safeguard food, reduce energy consumption, protect the environment and optimize business results. To learn more about our technology solutions and services for retailers, visit our website.

 Paul Hepperla
Director, New Solutions Development & Enterprise Product Management
Emerson Climate Technologies

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