Small format retail facilities face different operational challenges than supermarkets or other large format retailers. Applying a control system can help turn the challenges or problems these facility managers face into opportunities to reduce costs and enhance operations.
Most convenience stores do not have system controls. In a typical convenience store, the HVAC systems, refrigerated cases and lighting are managed separately and are not connected. The refrigeration system is often stand-alone and while thermostats are used, they may not be programmed to the correct settings. Manual processes may be in place to manage lighting controls.
For convenience store facility managers, your key problems likely include:
- Limited visibility into store operations: If you are responsible for multiple stores, you may not have the oversight to know what is happening in all of your locations at any given time.
- Difficulty of enforcing store policies: You may have established business policies around lighting and thermostat settings, but how do you know that they are being enforced by the store manager and followed by personnel in a single store?
- Poor maintenance: Many facilities use a “run to fail” maintenance strategy, meaning that the equipment generally will fail without warning, leading to emergency repairs or replacements on short notice.
- Energy leakage: If a mechanical problem or personnel issue causes a store to stray from the policies put in place – for example, settings on a thermostat are changed or canopy lights are left on throughout the day – this can lead to energy usage that is higher than necessary.
If an average 5,000 square foot convenience store spends $62,000 annually on operational costs, they may spend 44.5 percent of the budget on energy and 17.5 percent on maintenance. If this was your store, how much could you save by addressing the problems above? A control system can provide a convenience store typically between five and 20 percent savings, depending on the current facility management in place.
A control system consists of three layers and understanding the system architecture is beneficial to realizing the ways it can improve efficiency, reduce costs and enhance operations. The three layers include:
- Control: The control layer includes the electronic elements within your case that have control algorithms to affect the HVAC systems, refrigeration systems and lighting. The controls include the inputs and outputs, the sensors and transducers, and the equipment interface.
- Supervisory: The supervisory layer provides visibility. This layer offers user management, user interface, access to monitor the system remotely, alarm management and data logging.
- Enterprise: The enterprise layer is the connection from the sites to the cloud, where the data collected from the systems in your stores can be stored, compared and analyzed.
Many people think having controls and stopping at the first layer is enough, but that’s not the case. It’s important to apply the entire system to manage, monitor and optimize your small format facility.
Interested in learning more about control systems for convenience stores? Look for future blog posts on this topic here over the next several weeks. And, if you have specific questions, please email me at John.Wallace@Emerson.com.
Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions
Emerson Climate Technologies