For retailers looking to trim costs from already thin operating margins, energy costs are a big target, however, while many retailers are taking positive steps to save energy, many aren’t looking below the surface for their biggest savings.
Even some of the most savvy energy savers are just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of energy savings.
While I am encouraged to see more and more retailers use variable frequency drives to load-match air handling units,rooftop units, condensers and refrigeration systems, even some of the most savvy energy savers are just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of energy savings.
We are seeing more and more retailers benefit from looking at the whole picture of their energy usage and leveraging the data from their Emerson™ E2 Controller units. By sharing data between the drive, the controller and an air handling unit, for example, a retailer has a more complete picture of system operation—and the tools needed to maximize performance and attain every bit of energy savings possible.
Not only does this technology help save energy costs in the long-run, Emerson is helping retailers capitalize on a number of important regional energy rebate programs.
The best news for retailers is that much of this technology, like variable frequency drives and controllers, are already installed and with added integration can help organizations dive deep into their energy savings initiatives.
Business Development Manager, Control Techniques
Emerson Industrial Automation
At this month’s Technology in Action Conference, our Director of ProAct engagements, Jeff Zazzara, and I will be giving a presentation that is at least partially inspired by an article we found on LinkedIn, “The Story of the Way Big Data Shaped World War II” by Michael Moritz, the Chairman of Sequoia Capital. Not only does the article combine two of my favorite topics, history and data, but it also reveals an important data analysis lesson: the importance of data signals.
In the world of data analysis, rows in a spreadsheet are termed “cases” and columns are “signals.” Adding cases to a dataset, such as recording kWh consumption over time, reduces the likelihood of outliers and random variance. However, the most powerful way to find valuable insights from a dataset is to add signals. Adding signals creates context for the data; it can reveal new relationships (correlations) and enable key inferences which drive action.
German WW2, U Boat 534 at Birkenhead Docks, Merseyside, England
In the military context of The Battle of the Atlantic in WWII, the Allies’ dataset had many cases of attempts to sink German U-boats with air-to-sea depth charges, but each case had only one resulting signal: whether the U-boat was sunk, damaged, or unharmed. Identifying specific actions to improve the success rate of these attacks was very difficult without additional supporting data signals. By adding a variety of signals to their dataset – trigger depth of the depth charge, time elapsed from enemy sighting to engagement, and even color of the aircraft – British Intelligence was able to build context into their data and identify potential tactical improvements. As a result, they painted black airplanes white, changed the trigger depth to 25 feet, and improved the success-rate of attacks on submerged U-boats from one percent to seven percent.
In the HVAC/R context today, I see maintenance managers and energy specialists realizing the value of data signals and taking steps to harness their power. One successful Emerson partner improved their preventative HVAC maintenance scheduling by using the E2 management system to create signals from the number of high space temperature alarms and the percentage of units at a store not meeting temperature differential targets. Armed with new data, they targeted stores and units most likely to fail during the peak summer months.
Emerson’s technologies and solutions, such as CoreSense™ technology and the E2 management system, are creating, and will continue to create, new data signals and new opportunities for operational improvements. The key to creating savings through Smart Data is maximizing the number of data signals available to you and then identifying which ones best drive specific key performance indicators.
Emerson Climate Technologies customers who will attend TAC in a couple weeks will hear Jeff and I further explore the use of data analysis in WWII (ask to hear the bullet-hole story), how maintenance teams are using data signals today, and how Emerson can help you develop a signal-rich improvement plan.
But, I am also interested in hearing from experts outside of the retail market. How are you using signals to find meaning in data and improve your business? What are some of the difficulties you have encountered in your endeavors?
Emerson Climate Technologies, Retail Solutions
Does your car tell you when it’s time for an oil change or if tire pressure is low? Armed with this information, you don’t wait for a major auto “failure” before you act—you use condition based maintenance.
It’s the same for your retail business. Wouldn’t you rather do maintenance based on equipment condition before it deteriorates to the point where it may fail if not serviced?
Condition Based Maintenance can answer questions like
• Which of my refrigeration systems are operating improperly or inefficiently?
• Which of my refrigeration systems are leaking refrigerant?
• How can I implement a better preventative maintenance scheme or optimize maintenance dispatches?
• Where should I focus my maintenance budget?
The best news about Condition Based Maintenance is that many retailers already have most of the equipment needed installed already. Products like Emerson E2 controllers, Copeland Scroll™ compressors with CoreSense Diagnostics™, temperature and pressure sensors are increasingly being installed as standard equipment in many retail operations today.
Connecting our Condition Based Maintenance software and service architecture is the final step many retailers need to take to ensure they are safely driving their business.
Commercial & Residential Solutions is a global innovator of energy-efficient heating, air conditioning and refrigeration solutions for residential, industrial and commercial applications. www.climate.emerson.com