Operational analytics lower energy costs and maintenance
Monitoring 5000 sites around the world, Danfoss, which specialises in producing refrigeration monitoring equipment, compressors and controllers for grocery stores, required a solution that would help its customers view their operations at a presentation level, create reports on alarms and performance, and reduce energy costs.
Backgrounds and challenges
Refrigeration consumes a major portion of a large grocery store’s electricity (up to 30 percent in some stores), with the remainder consumed by HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) equipment, lighting and other utilities, such as in-house bakeries and restaurants. Add to this the risk of asset failure, which can result in food loss, unplanned asset down time and maintenance callouts – all unexpected costs that can quickly escalate.
Retailers now operate in a market where the demand for frozen foods is increasing, causing them to invest in large-scale refrigeration equipment. This has led to tight margins in an increasingly competitive market where assets are expected to perform constantly. Historically, supermarkets have accepted that the cost for high customer volume, regulatory compliance and increasing energy costs were part of the business model.
Danfoss addressed these business challenges with an operational analytic solution provided by Bentley Systems’ Amulet that saves money, categorises and filters alarms, improves energy efficiency and gives customers peace of mind.
There were many key solutions that enabled Danfoss customers to manage their supermarkets more efficiently and to aid decision-making. Central to these is the alarm management system that is in place to monitor food quality and energy efficiency, along with a visualisation component to bring all of the information together in one platform.
Visualisation and reporting
The collection, organisation and visualisation of operational information was an important factor to Danfoss’ customers, as it allowed them to present a real-time visualisation of performance and current conditions, particularly focusing on generated alarms. Using the operational analytics solution, customers are able to view alarm counts and status, view and email performance reports on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis, as well as for the facility to create ad hoc reports as required.
Alarm management system
An underlying alarm management system means that any alarms based on a potential failure or a threat to an asset when a threshold has been reached are raised automatically. The difficulty here is identifying which alarms need attention and which can be dismissed as a result of defrost cycles, or when refrigerator doors have been accidentally left open.
“Refrigeration consumes a major portion of a large grocery store’s electricity (up to 30 percent in some stores), with the remainder consumed by HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) equipment, lighting and other utilities, such as in-house bakeries and restaurants.
Danfoss uses the Amulet software to count repeated similar alarms and identify which are real and which are false, before notifying the right people, leading to a more proactive approach to maintenance, as opposed to reacting after an incident.
Eliminating false alarms from the system significantly cuts costs by reducing needless callouts of maintenance engineers. Alarm histories may also be used against the asset, the fault or the site to highlight patterns, such as determining the reason a particular alarm is occurring against the same asset consistently across multiple stores.
Danfoss addresses regulatory food compliance with hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) reports, a monitoring and reporting system that assures food production and storage facilities are safe.
Using Amulet for data collection and visualisation, HACCP reports show the average temperature during an hour (from typically four 15-minute intervals) of any asset containing food. These reports are displayed within Amulet’s dashboards, allowing Danfoss and its customers to spot at a glance any differences in behaviour in an asset’s temperature by using a colour coded box to indicate whether an asset is operating above or below its normal level. These reports can display historical data to prove that measures are taken to ensure food safety.
Coupled with the temperature quality index report, which displays the overall performance of an asset in terms of how much of a percentage it is operating within its set points, the reports bring a complete picture of asset performance in near to real-time, where certain events can be predicted and actions taken ahead of time.
Load shedding and set point management
Other functionality within Amulet includes the addition of automated load shedding and set point management. Load shedding (or demand response) involves Amulet to help facilitate the automatic switching on/off of certain assets by interfacing directly with the hardware. This is to reduce energy consumption and receive financial incentives from power companies that need to reduce peak demand. This could include HVAC systems, store and car park lighting.
From the dashboard, levels can be set that will send a signal to certain controllers, such as lighting zones, turning them off over a set period of time. Each level of load shedding can include any number of assets, from a few to all. These measures help reduce energy consumption while the initiative also encourages financial incentives from the energy provider.
Set point management automates corrections in hardware value points to ensure error control regulation of asset temperatures, switch status and alarm values. This means that Amulet constantly checks values to specific hardware, like a switch or a set point, making sure they are correct. If a change occurs or is made accidently by a third party, it can be entered into an audit trail and automatically corrected to the original value. This ensures continuity to the operational performance of the store and peace of mind knowing that accidents will be avoided, further reducing callouts and loss of stock. Set points and schedules can also be changed for an entire estate through one job.
Through the use of operational analytics, Danfoss has achieved complete visibility of its whole operation, including energy usage against external parameters like outside/inside temperatures and other factors. By monitoring these patterns for their customers, Danfoss regulates the environment in which its assets work. For example, refrigerators will not need to work as hard if the temperature or humidity in the store is controlled at an optimum level.
Through Amulet, Danfoss is able to determine that substantial energy savings can be achieved and affect its customers’ bottom line. Key operational benefits include:
- ensure food safety and minimise food loss
- reduce energy consumption
- anticipate failure of refrigeration equipment
- filter, identify and notify alerts and real service maintenance needs
- prescriptive load shedding for optimal power reduction, and
- prescriptive set point remapping when overriding settings.
The Amulet alarm management system allows Danfoss customers to monitor and track its assets and intervene when necessary if one triggers an alarm. With Amulet’s variety of specialised alarms such as threshold, percentage or hold down, raised alarms have been filtered to only notify users of critical alarms, thus reducing false alarms and maintenance callouts.
Using Amulet operational analytics software enables Danfoss to increase its customers’ return on investment (ROI) by eliminating false alarms, effectively monitoring energy usage, and provides it with levels of visibility that helps it monitor performance more accurately and timely.
The author, Richard Irwin, is senior marketing manager for AssetWise at Bentley Systems. This article also appears in the June/July edition of Facility Management.