Operational analytics helps lower refrigeration costs

Monitoring 5,000 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 per cent in some cases), with the remainder consumed by HVAC equipment, lighting, and other utilities. The risk of asset failure – which can result in food loss, unplanned asset down time and maintenance call outs – needs to be added to this.

Retailers now operate in a market where the demand for frozen foods is increasing As such, they need 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 are part of the business model.

Danfoss addressed these business challenges with an operational analytic solution provided by Bentley‘s Amulet that saves money, categorises and filters alarms, improves energy efficiency, and provides customers with peace of mind.

Solutions

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 were important factors for Danfoss customers, as they 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; and create ad-hoc reports as required.

Alarm Management System

An underlying alarm management system means alarms based on a potential failure or a threat to an asset are automatically raised when a threshold has been reached. The difficulty here is identifying which alarms needed attention and which could be dismissed as a result of defrost cycles, or refrigerator doors being accidentally left open. Danfoss uses Bentley’s Amulet software to count repeated similar alarms and identify which are real and which are false, then notify the relevant people. Eliminating false alarms from the system significantly cuts costs by reducing needless callouts of maintenance engineers. Alarm histories can also be used against the asset, the fault, or the site to highlight patterns, such as a particular alarm occurring against the same asset consistently across multiple stores.

 HACCP reporting

Danfoss addresses regulatory food compliance with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) reports, a monitoring and reporting system that ensures 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 and allow Danfoss and its customers to spot at a glance any differences in behavior in an asset’s temperature by using colour coded boxes 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 (within its set points), the reports bring a complete picture of asset performance in near to real-time.

Load shedding and set point management

Other functionality within Amulet include 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 which need to reduce peak demand. This could include HVAC systems, store, and car park lighting.

From the Amulet 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, further reducing callouts and loss of stock. Set points and schedules can also be changed for an entire estate through one job.

Results

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 customers, Danfoss can regulate the environment in which its assets work. For example, refrigerators won’t need to work as hard if the temperature or humidity in the store is maintained 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 included ensuring food safety and minimising food loss; reducing energy consumption; anticipating failure of refrigeration equipment; filtering, identifying, and notifying alerts and real service maintenance needs; prescriptive loadshedding for optimal power reduction; and prescriptive set point remapping when overriding settings.

The Amulet alarm management system allows Danfoss customers to monitor and track their 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 call outs.

Using Bentley’s Amulet operational analytics software enables Danfoss to increase its customers’ ROI by  eliminating false alarms, effectively monitoring energy usage, and provides them with levels of visibility that help them monitor performance more accurately and in a more timely fashion.

 

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