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Understanding Your EMS and Identifying Trends on the Horizon

JohnWallace_Blog_Image John Wallace | Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Squeezing the most efficiency out of your energy management system (EMS) can be a pivotal part of your operation. Many store and franchise operators are only using around 10–20 percent of the overall power of their EMS. Optimizing your systems and getting your “money’s worth” out of your EMS can reduce energy and maintenance costs and potentially lower energy consumption.

Understanding Your EMS and Identifying Trends on the Horizon

To fully understand what an EMS does and how it can benefit you, a helpful comparison can be made by looking at the progression of automotive technologies. For example, today we are accustomed to our cars nearly being able to drive themselves (some can). That evolution began as industry leaders started incorporating electronics into vehicles to benefit drivers — things like an analog braking system that was connected to engine control modules which were connected to traction control systems. Manufacturers are blending these systems together, improving communication and thereby optimizing vehicles.

An EMS, essentially, follows the same sort of ideology, tying together key systems and the architectural layers of your operation. These start with the control layer, where electronics take sensor inputs and determine what actions to take with that information (turning on/off compressors, fans, etc.). Next, the supervisory layer handles things like data logging, bringing the data from different systems together and storing it for you to evaluate and analyze over a given time frame (days, weeks, months, etc.) — and generating alarms for anomalies and other problems.

Finally, the remote layer, or remote system, is a software platform (or something similar) that communicates with your on-site equipment and gathers data that you can view via a remote user interface to see trends in your operations. Obviously, this is key to your ability to manage all this information from a location away from your actual operation.

As your EMS continually collects data, it is important for you to make the most of that data and understand how your EMS can help you identify trends and improve the way your facility operates. Optimizing your EMS grants you visibility into what’s happening at any particular site within your building/enterprise. Average operational expenses for a supermarket are incredibly high, so knowing how to interpret data provided by an EMS allows you to solve your problems quickly and efficiently.

Several trends regarding smart buildings and EMS technology have emerged in recent years, including: building energy management hitting the “cloud,” increased demand for smart building products, the convergence of building communications protocols, and the blurring of the interface between smart buildings and the smart grid. These trends tend to drive innovation in four key areas: user interface and usability, integration, cloud connectivity, and extensibility and apps.

For a more in-depth look at what an EMS can offer your operation and to hear more trends, be sure to watch the full presentation here.

Modernizing the Middle of the Store

JohnWallace_Blog_Image John Wallace | Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes an article from our E360 program, entitled Cooling the Middle of the Store to Heat up Sales.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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The perimeter of most grocery chains has always been at the forefront of the customer experience, occupied by shopper-friendly delis, fresh produce and bakeries, among other things. The middle of the store? That’s where you’d find the less sexy necessities like canned goods and other grocery staples.

Emphasizing the perimeter and stockpiling the middle with necessities was a dependable strategy. But times are changing. Case in point: a major food retailer discovered that in recent years, as the middle of the store began to shrink, so did overall revenues, with some major brands seeing as much as 2.8 percent drops per quarter. It needed a way to boost profits in the middle of stores.

The solution was to add new, low-profile refrigerated units to showcase more exciting products and packaging, bringing the pizzazz and flair of the perimeters to the middle of stores. But keeping these units working properly and monitoring their performance in this central location was the real challenge.

The necessity of maintaining consistent temperatures in refrigeration units exposed to ambient air meant stores would have to hook up sensors to monitor and control the temperatures in free-standing cases. However, these sensors required wiring that would need to be encased inside the stores’ walls — which would disrupt customers and cost stores a decent amount of money.

Emerson Retail Solutions presented one client with another option, which required no wiring at all.

Emerson’s Wireless Sensor System allowed the grocery chain to connect temperature probes, product simulators and other refrigeration sensors in critical refrigeration equipment throughout their stores, running around the perimeter and filing into the middle. This system also allowed the chain to collect key data that helped store managers monitor perishables which, in turn, allowed for maximized shelf life, reduced shrinkage and ensured safety.

The wireless module inside the cases transmitted data from the probes, product simulators and other sensors to a remote wireless gateway overhead. That gateway then converts the wireless signals into usable, real-time information, allowing for constant monitoring and data that can be used for supervisory controls. The signal sent from the module is strong and reliable enough to reach up to a 100-foot radius, all while using a minimal amount of energy. Repeaters can boost this signal even more, allowing for reach across the entirety of stores.

The Emerson Wireless Sensor System can, oftentimes, be installed in just 3.5 hours, potentially accumulating a 70 percent savings in installation costs when retrofitting stores, and cutting construction costs on new retail stores by up to 15 percent. Savings continue after installation by allowing the grocery chain to avoid fluctuating temperatures and reduce energy costs with their highly efficient wireless systems.

This particular grocery chain firmly believes that maintaining food quality is their top priority. Recent changes in the Food Safety and Modernization Act establish that it should be every chain’s top priority. Solutions such as the Emerson Wireless Sensor System allow chains to monitor free-standing refrigerated equipment in their stores, ensuring proper merchandise temperatures and giving customers the confidence in the retailer’s ability to consistently provide fresh and nutritious products — regardless of where product is located.

 

 

 

 

How to Create a Machine-learning Model in Your Enterprise in Six Simple Steps

JohnWallace_Blog_Image John Wallace | Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes an article from our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled Applying Machine Learning for Facility Management.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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Machine learning is a subfield of computer science that refers to a computer’s ability to learn without being programmed. Although machines should be able to learn and adapt through experience, human interaction is still needed to produce desired results. Today, many facility management applications — for refrigeration and HVAC systems, for example — have taken a supervised learning approach that utilizes historical data to train an algorithm and predict an outcome from a series of inputs.

To create your own supervised-learning model, businesses can take these relatively simple six steps:

  1. Define the problem. It’s critical to have a keen idea of the problem you are trying to predict or solve, and establish well-defined goals of the application.
  2. Develop a data collection strategy. Data collection is achieved via inputs from a variety of information, including: temperatures, pressures, on-off activities (from motors, etc.) as well as the actions that result from these inputs. Your goal will be to predict the action that will occur for a given set of inputs. Data will be used to both train the learning model and validate the model’s performance.
  3. Create machine-learning models. Based on the training data collected and available inputs, you can create a machine-learning model that uses specific algorithms (math) to predict an action. Since different types of models may perform better or worse for a particular data set, you might need to create multiple models (different math) and then pick the one that performs best based on your data.
  4. Establish a standard. How closely does your model predict the action or result that came out of your training data? A perfect model would anticipate the result every time. While that usually doesn’t happen, the goal is to get as close as possible to achieving the desired results, and then use that model as a standard moving forward.
  5. Test the validation data. Based on the validation data from step two, evaluate the performance of your model. If the validation data doesn’t match up, you may need to step back and select a different training model, and then validate the data again. This is an intricate process. When and if the results do not match expectations, you may have to start from the beginning. Make sure you are collecting the right types of data before running the process again.
  6. Utilize the machine-learning model. Upon completion of your efforts, you should have a model that can be used to predict an action or result based on the available inputs. At some point, input parameters may change or another system modification may be required; in this event, you will need to go back periodically and update the model based on new data.

New E360 Webinar | What’s on the regulatory horizon in 2018?

JohnWallace_Blog_Image John Wallace | Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Join us for our next E360 Webinar, “Regulations 2018: What’s Set, Pending and Proposed” on Tuesday, January 16 at 2 p.m. EST / 11 a.m. PST.

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If you’ve followed the regulatory activities impacting our industry over the past several years, you know that staying informed is half the battle. From new regulations introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) to the implementation of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the global cold chain has its share of regulatory hurdles to overcome.

Since 2014, Emerson has helped the industry not only make sense of these regulations, but also assisted our customers in making the transition to new refrigeration strategies that address our shared regulatory compliance challenges:

  • EPA phase-down of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP)
  • DOE mandate of new energy-efficiency standards
  • FSMA food safety reforms

This effort is ongoing, and in many ways, we’re in the early phases of this transition. As we move into 2018, there are 10 significant regulatory targets on the horizon that will impact refrigerants and energy standards over the next four years.

Our next E360 Webinar will bring together a panel of experts to discuss the potential short- and long-term implications of these regulations and present key trends that are shaping our industry:

  • Rajan Rajendran, vice president — system innovation center and sustainability, will report on recent regulatory developments in refrigerant and energy standards.
  • Amy Childress, vice president — marketing & planning, cargo solutions, will discuss how automated temperature monitoring helps the perishable food industry comply with new FSMA rules.
  • I will explain how innovations in IOT, building management and control systems create smart buildings that contribute to the smart grid.

To make sure you’re prepared for the new year and the regulatory challenges to come, join us on Tuesday, January 16 at 2 p.m. EST / 11 a.m. PST for this informative webinar.

 

Refrigerant Leak Detection Technology Saves $$ and the Environment

I recently wrote an article featured in Contracting Business discussing the importance of refrigerant leak detection as an essential service for retailers and HVACR contractors.

Refrigerant leaks have long been viewed as an inevitable part of operating a retail refrigeration system.  Retailers often wrote these leaks off as the cost of doing business, but the impact of refrigerant leaks goes beyond what most may expect. The true costs of refrigerant leaks are often underestimated, and contractors who understand this impact will be more valuable partners for their clients.

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According to the EPA’s GreenChill research, the average supermarket loses about 25 percent — or about 875 pounds — of its refrigerant supply because of leaks. When you multiply this across many stores in a grocery chain, the costs can be significant — not only in terms of the cost of the refrigerant, but with associated labor costs. There is also a potential loss of business because of food disruptions and food quality issues that may arise.

Refrigerant leaks also have an environmental impact. Most commonly used refrigerants are greenhouse gases and some are ozone-depleting substances. Assuming a leak rate of 20 percent across a chain of 100 typical supermarket stores, the amount of refrigerant leaked annually is equivalent to the emissions of 24,000 cars or 10,600 homes.

The EPA has had regulations in place for a number of years as part of the Clean Air Act. Now, the EPA has proposed an update to those regulations governing most refrigerants that could impact both contractors and retail operators. Contractors who keep up with how these regulations are changing can be better retailer partners by aligning their services to meet these changes. An effective leak detection program can help retailers manage and properly repair refrigerant leaks and avoid costly EPA settlements.

The goal should be not only to establish proper leak detection response protocols, but also to institute proactive measures that minimize or eliminate leaks altogether. A zero-tolerance policy for leaks is ideal. Accurate detection methods, reliable notifications and continuous monitoring are the key elements needed for effective leak detection programs.

To learn more about refrigerant leak detection for contractors, read the full Contracting Business article 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.

 John Wallace
Director of Innovation
Emerson Climate Technologies Retail Solutions

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