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Three Ways Restaurant Operators Can Realize the Full Potential of Connected Controls

SteveWeiss_2 Steve Weiss | Vice President, Business Development

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Food safety and quality are critical to foodservice operations, which is why the business case for kitchen connectivity tends to prioritize both. But operators who limit their use case to these factors are overlooking the potential advantages connected controls offer to their bottom line. As I explained in a recent E360 Outlook article, standard (parametric) and embedded (custom) controls with internet of things (IoT) capabilities can also serve as a catalyst for improved operational efficiencies.

Three Ways Restaurant Operators Can Realize the Full Potential of Connected Controls

The integration of standard and embedded controls is common on both the hot and cold sides of kitchen operations in order to regulate temperature and optimize performance. So it’s not a major leap to expand the application of IoT technology to reduce energy, labor and maintenance costs. Here are three ways operators can derive greater cost savings from their connected controls.

1: Reduce energy costs on the cold side

On the cold side, standard controls are typically used in a “set it and forget it” fashion. Yet advances in refrigeration control technology provide for much greater functionalities. Operators can gain real-time insights into system performance and receive alerts when temperature deviations or equipment malfunctions occur. As a result, they can address issues immediately — before they become a drag on system performance, drive up utility bills, and put food quality at risk.

Consider the repercussions of leaving a walk-in door open. This simple act can cause a chain reaction that, at best, reduces the system’s efficiency but at worst, puts the entire inventory at risk. Connected controls can issue an alert when this occurs, allowing an operator to immediately address the oversight.

2: Automate manual processes on the hot side

Embedded controls can also be connected to transform the hot side of a kitchen, such as automating kitchen preparation and implementing important checks on food safety for regulatory compliance. In connected kitchens, these controls can also collect and log Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) data, minimizing manual steps and improving documentation accuracy.

Large foodservice operators can also use their connected controls to digitally push menu changes from corporate headquarters to stores across their networks. By reducing a complex, labor-intensive process to a few simple steps, these stores can cut labor costs while guaranteeing that their menus and recipes are updated quickly and consistently.

3: Build a more effective maintenance program

Connected kitchens can also provide operators with centralized control of their entire store network — from kitchen equipment to HVAC and lighting systems. With the capabilities afforded by IoT, cloud storage and analytics software, operators can monitor system performance from their hand-held devices. And just as important, they can leverage the insights available at their fingertips to create proactive or condition-based maintenance programs. In this scenario, issues can be detected, anticipated and resolved before they disrupt operations or lead to costly truck rolls.

Getting the most out of your controls

Most refrigeration equipment manufactured in the past seven years is connectable. So for operators, the question shouldn’t be “Can we do this?” but rather, “What do we want to accomplish?” By shifting the conversation to desired outcomes, operators will be better able to make the right strategic investments to gain their desired return.

The key for operators is understanding that there is no “one size fits all” solution for attaining a connected kitchen. The IoT infrastructure should be built to deliver on your desired outcomes, rather than forcing your business objectives to conform to the system architecture. At Emerson, we’re helping restaurant operators of all sizes gain the full potential of connected controls so they can better tackle their most pressing market challenges. Learn how you can get connected by contacting an Emerson representative today.

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.

[Webinar Recap] Preparing for the DOE’s New WICF Energy-Efficiency Standards

Julie Havenar | Product Manager – Condensing Units
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

I recently conducted an E360 Webinar about the Department of Energy’s (DOE) new energy-efficiency standards on walk-in coolers and freezers (WICF). The webinar was presented to help industry stakeholders prepare for compliance by reviewing the ruling’s scope, definitions and potential industry impacts. View an archive of the webinar here and/or read a summary of its key takeaways below.

Ruling overview

On June 3, 2014, the DOE published its final rule on prescribed performance-based standards for WICFs, which specifically apply to the condensing units and unit coolers used in these systems. Then, on July 10, 2017, the DOE issued an update to the ruling and released its minimum efficiency test procedures, which they termed the annual walk-in efficiency factor (AWEF).

AWEF is a metric created by the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) designed to help manufacturers validate compliance. As defined by the AHRI 1250-2009 standard, AWEF minimum efficiency requirements for dedicated condensing units vary per capacity and application (e.g., indoor, outdoor).

Although the compliance date for medium-temperature, dedicated condensing system applications has been in place since 2017, the DOE has established the following enforcement dates for 2020:

  • 1: for medium-temperature WICF applications
  • July 10: for low-temperature WICF applications

Scope and definitions

The scope of the ruling pertains to enclosed WICFs that can be walked into and have a total chilled storage area of less than 3,000 square feet. In addition, the ruling applies only to those condensing units and unit coolers designed to provide one refrigerated load. Products designed and marketed exclusively for medical, scientific or research purposes are excluded from this ruling.

According to the DOE ruling, 32 °F is the point of differentiation between walk-in coolers and freezers. A walk-in cooler is defined as an enclosed storage space refrigerated to temperatures above 32 °F. A walk-in freezer is defined as an enclosed storage space refrigerated to temperatures at or below 32 °F.

The DOE WICF ruling applies to both new and retrofit refrigeration systems, including:

  • Condensing units that are assembled to construct a new WICF
  • Condensing units that are used to replace an existing, previously installed WICF component (retrofit)
  • Condensing units used within packaged systems

Important note: While this does mean that condensing units manufactured after the ruling’s enforcement dates must comply, it does not exclude wholesalers and contractors from using and stocking condensing units that were manufactured before the DOE enforcement dates.

Industry impacts

With the DOE enforcement dates quickly approaching, stakeholders throughout the commercial refrigeration industry need to understand the ruling’s potential impacts on their businesses. Of course, this starts with equipment manufacturers that must not only manufacture compliant products, but also demonstrate certification and compliance through the following: registration with the DOE’s Compliance Certification Management System (CCMS) database; proper disclosure in marketing materials; and permanent nameplate marking.

Impacts to other key stakeholders include:

  • Wholesalers — must be prepared for changing inventories and begin carrying only AWEF-compliant products if they are manufactured after the 2020 enforcement date
  • Contractors — must understand that if they replace a condensing unit with one manufactured after the DOE enforcement date, it must be an AWEF-compliant unit
  • Design consultantsmust be well-versed in the regulatory impacts to advise end users in the selection of energy-compliant, sustainable systems
  • End usersneed to consider selecting future-proof equipment that aligns with their long-term refrigeration strategies

Regardless of your specific role, Emerson offers additional training, resources and expertise to help you prepare for compliance and understand the impacts of the DOE’s WICF ruling. For more information, please view the webinar archive or download our DOE WICF ruling FAQ document.

 

[Webinar Recap] Factoring Energy Management Into Your Refrigeration Retrofits

AndrePatenaude_Blog_Image Andre Patenaude | Director, Food Retail Marketing & Growth Strategy, Cold Chain

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

In today’s dynamic food retail climate, many operators are wondering why they should retrofit their aging refrigeration supermarket refrigeration architecture. For most, this is a not an easy decision to make. While you’ll often find some form of a refrigerant regulation accelerating this process, a viable refrigeration retrofit should also include plans for ongoing energy optimization. In our most recent E360 Webinar, I discussed how to merge these two considerations into a sustainable, long-term refrigeration strategy. Read the summary below and/or view the webinar in its entirety.

The transition to more environmentally friendly, future-ready refrigerants is underway, and as a result, many supermarket retailers are evaluating retrofit options on their existing systems. But for large enterprises or individual stores that consume a lot of energy, the rising costs of energy (especially in certain regions with high rates) are moving conversations toward energy management — not only in refrigeration systems, but also entire facility ecosystems and across the enterprise.

Ultimately, the goal of an effective approach to energy optimization is to minimize energy costs in every way possible. Doing so requires an understanding of the various factors that contribute to energy costs, including:

  • Energy consumption profile of key store systems such as refrigeration, HVAC and lighting
  • Peak electric consumption cycles and periods in each store
  • Time of use rates as dictated by the electrical utility, including both on- and off-peak rates
  • Seasonal changes and their impacts on consumption and electricity rates

This is particularly important in certain areas of the country where charges exceed $15 per kW during peak demand periods.

Why the focus on refrigeration?

A typical supermarket uses a centralized direct expansion refrigeration architecture which accounts for more than 50 percent of its total annual energy consumption, with HVAC systems the next largest consumer at 20 percent. At the same time, an average supermarket consumes three times more energy per square foot than other retail facilities. It’s no surprise then that these systems are becoming prime targets for energy optimization in the U.S. and around the globe.

The tendency for refrigerant leaks in traditional centralized systems — most of which are also charged with refrigerants that have a high global warming potential (GWP) — makes these systems ideal candidates for retrofits. Many of them can transition to lower-GWP refrigerants with relatively minimal retrofit requirements.

Six steps along the “Journey to Energy Excellence”

In the webinar, I cited a case study of a supermarket that went through a retrofit process in its centralized refrigeration system. The process followed a methodology that Emerson refers to as the Journey to Energy Excellence. By upgrading only the refrigeration system (i.e., the first three steps below), the supermarket reduced its energy costs by nearly $40 thousand per year.

The six steps along the journey to energy excellence include:

  1. Conduct a baseline energy audit of the existing system.
  2. Recommission the system to its original condition and setpoints.
  3. Make refrigeration technology upgrades, such as: digital compressors, variable frequency drives and floating the head/suction pressures.
  4. Change the lighting and other renewable upgrades such as adding doors, electronic expansion valves and electrically commutated motors on evaporators.
  5. Expand focus to HVAC technology upgrades, including rooftop units and demand control ventilation.
  6. Deploy a condition-based maintenance, internet of things (IoT) infrastructure to accurately monitor asset and system performance.

Each step enables progressive degrees of energy optimization, and as the case study demonstrates, implementing just the first three steps can provide significant financial gains. Collectively, this methodology can help supermarkets develop energy management strategies that consider entire facility ecosystems.

Regardless of where you are in this process, Emerson is providing solutions at every step to help retailers achieve energy excellence in stores and across the enterprise.

[New E360 Webinar] Why Retrofit Your Aging Supermarket Refrigeration Architecture?

AndrePatenaude_Blog_Image Andre Patenaude | Director, Food Retail Marketing & Growth Strategy, Cold Chain

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Many supermarket operators face a common dilemma regarding their refrigeration systems: they know they need to make changes or upgrade their legacy systems, but they’re not sure what their retrofit options are — or even where to begin. In our next E360 Webinar, I’ll offer guidance on how supermarket owners/operators can embark on this critical journey.

Join me on Tuesday, Aug. 13 at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT for this informative webinar.

[New E360 Webinar] Why Retrofit Your Aging Supermarket Refrigeration Architecture?

There’s no question that reliable refrigeration is the backbone of any supermarket operation; it accounts for more than 50 percent of the electrical consumption for an average supermarket. That’s why keeping your refrigeration system running at optimal efficiency is essential to maximizing profits and ensuring operational success.

But if you’re like many owners/operators, you’ve been relying on the same centralized refrigeration architecture for decades. During that time, these systems have typically experienced declining performance levels and energy efficiencies — all due to progressive deviations from their original commissioned states. And while these systems are perfect candidates for an upgrade or a retrofit, even newer systems can offer opportunities for improvements, especially within the context of today’s rapidly evolving industry and market dynamics.

Compared to just 10 years ago, the drivers behind refrigeration decisions have changed dramatically, and the days of a one-system-fits-all mentality are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Environmental concerns, energy costs, shifting regulations, shrinking store formats, consumer demands and omnichannel delivery have all irrevocably reshaped the supermarket landscape.

As a result, more supermarket owners/operators are reevaluating their existing (and often aging) systems while looking for any retrofit opportunities that are available to them. Our next E360 Webinar is designed with them in mind. To help you better understand the many factors to consider when evaluating a supermarket refrigeration retrofit, I’ll be discussing the following topics:

  • Industry and market trends driving the need for refrigeration system retrofits
  • How to identify deficiencies and baseline performances in centralized architectures
  • A look at the potential architectures of the future
  • Recommended technologies for retrofits and recommissioning
  • Energy-efficiency strategies for refrigeration, HVAC and the complete building envelope

As always, we will take time after the presentation to answer any of your questions. So, be sure to register now and add this event to your August calendar.

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