Consider the corner convenience store, the one you stopped at yesterday or a few days before. Tracking – and cutting – the store’s energy consumption is challenging because the type of business, the level of activity, weather, location, and equipment all play a role. What’s more, time spent on energy-related matters takes away from focusing on customers and ensuring business continuity, critical tasks for any store manager.
This energy challenge is even greater for a Head of Operations who’s in charge of managing many stores, perhaps hundreds, across an entire region. How does he or she figure out what can be done to turn high consumption locations into low ones?
What’s needed is key performance indicators (KPIs) and insights adapted to a specific situation. Fortunately, the right monitoring software can supply that information – and this data can boost profit.
Before discussing a solution, though, it’s important to understand the nature of the problem.
First, energy usage varies by type of business. A coffee shop or restaurant, for instance has refrigerators, stoves and other equipment needed to prepare food. Patrons must be kept comfortable for what may be a lengthy stay. In a convenience store, on the other hand, customers come and go quickly, but there is still a need to refrigerate food and beverages. In both cases, food safety is directly dependent on refrigeration control and equipment performance. Finally, a clothing store and the like don’t deal with food at all but do handle shoppers, who must be kept comfortable regarding temperature, air quality, lighting and more.
A study based on US Environmental Protection Agency data found food retailers averaged 552 kWh annually per square meter of floor space, with 48 percent for refrigeration. Non-food retailers, the same research showed, averaged 173 kWh/m, with nothing for refrigeration.
Second, there can be a significant variation due to equipment. A cooler that is off a degree results in a two percent change in energy consumption, according to the Carbon Trust.
Third, the amount of energy used depends on the weather and season. For example, commercial buildings consume about 131 billion kWh of electricity during hot summer months, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That is 31 percent more than in the spring, when commercial buildings use about 100 billion kWh.
Given this landscape, what should a monitoring solution look like?
First, it should be comprehensive. So, it should include all aspects of energy usage, such as refrigeration, HVAC, lighting and more. And it should also support store owners/single site managers concerned with one location and regional managers accountable for hundreds.
Second, it has to provide tools for multi-site energy budget control: it must enable comparisons between stores of energy consumed per store by floor space, hours open, or other measures to quickly identify best and worst performers. This information then helps focus actions and investments on those sites that are poor performers.
Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxureTM Facility Expert is a quickly installed scalable solution that meets these ideal requirements.
This IoT-based platform connects equipment and captures critical information in a retail environment. EcoStruxure Facility Expert provides tools to analyze this data with actionable items tailored to the specific needs of different job roles.
A store owner or single site manager, for instance, can receive alerts in case of over-consumption or operational issues like equipment failure on his mobile device , allowing for a faster reaction. A store manager can also control off-hours consumption by scheduling HVAC and lighting to shut off when not needed.
A Head of Operations can benchmark all stores through a web portal to reduce cost and control budget. What’s more, such a regional manager can monitor energy with appropriate KPIs, thereby identifying abnormal consumption. A multi-site manager can get data on all stores, report to chain management, and forecast energy budgets.
Putting such technology to work can produce, research shows, substantial benefits to the bottom line. Suppose a retailer operates at a 4 percent profit margin. A 15 percent reduction in energy consumption will then boost profit margin to 4.75 percent.
So, that corner convenience store could see a significant improvement – with the right monitoring software. It can reduce energy consumption and CO2 impact, while ensuring food safety, regulatory compliance and a pleasant shopping experience.
Learn more about EcoStruxure Facility Expert, or explore our comprehensive technology and service offers for retail customers.