Emerson Takes on Massive Supermarket Energy Upgrade

From the progression of the general store of the early 19th century, when store proprietors gathered a customer’s order, through self-service corner groceries to 20th century supermarkets, one thing hasn’t changed: SG&A (sales and general administrative cost) are a well-kept secret in industry circles. Emerson Climate Technologies was called to the aid of a major U.S. supermarket operator to energy retrofit 800 stores in only seven months. However, you’ll not learn the name of that mega-giant in this story — this writer is sworn to secrecy.

Food and household supply items have long been thought to be a relatively low-margin/high volume business. So, it’s no surprise that controlling energy costs are such a high priority for supermarket owners. One study of more than 40,000 service calls revealed that most systems are running at about 75% efficiency. Increasing the average efficiency can save supermarkets a tremendous amount of money.

This customer needed a turnkey solution that included design work, customized equipment, and custom installation. The Emerson Climate Technologies family of companies offered the ability to use: Computer Process Controls as both a controls supplier and manufacturer; Control Techniques as a provider of variable speed drives with advanced algorithms; and Retail Services to provide the project management and the professional installation personnel. Many stores have in-house maintenance departments, but when you are faced with hundreds of sites that have to be equipped, it takes a company that has the ability and resources to pull this off in a condensed period of time.

Energy savings are the driver in the supermarket business. The owner’s concerns included time for implementation and not disturbing operations in individual stores, even though work took place during day-time hours. Of course, financial considerations such as internal rate of return (IRR) and return on investment (ROI) are no less important. Owners are looking for a way to be more competitive in their market. Three to five year paybacks for an energy upgrade just isn’t acceptable any longer. An ROI of two years or less is the expected current standard. Emerson not only revamped space and refrigeration control, but also lighting.

Many HVAC systems are misapplied as used in grocery stores in combination with refrigeration systems. To correct problems in the chain of stores, Emerson installed Einstein controllers, anti-condensate controls, door heaters,and installed variable speed drives. In addition to the major revaming of space and refrigeration control, the company also updated store lighting.

Once the new Einstein controller was installed, the site had to be commissioned. All wires were terminated, the controller programmed, and all systems fine-tuned. Maintaining set point in a grocery store is the most critical objective. Being sure that the systems are operating to design is an important ongoing aspect of store commissioning.

During the seven-month project, 5,000 variable frequency drives were installed, 15,000 condensing units were tuned-up, and 60,000 relays were added as part of this procedure. At one time, more than 255 personnel from Emerson project teams and refrigeration and electrical contractors were in the field actively working on the project.

During the installation phase, Emerson provided a project website by which the chain could monitor the progress of the project and view or print project information reports, as well as on site training for the store technicians. Emerson’s ability to quickly mobilize a large pool of resources and personnel needed to finish the project may be attributable to the company’s Consider it Solved® culture. Emerson is convinced that its business model can, and is, producing success in the marketplace, showing that the family of Emerson Climate Technologies companies can work together to deliver truly integrated solutions for customers.

For more information, visit www.emersonclimateretail.com or call 800/527-6978.