MRO Magazine

Deep Machine Learning – how smart solutions lower energy costs and boost safety

An integrated refrigeration and controls solutions leader paves the way for energy savings through award-winning analytics implementations.

March 3, 2017 | By Rehana Begg

Richard Ruth, product manager – services, Danfoss, who accepted the award for “Innovation in Asset Performance” at the 2016 Be Inspired Awards.

What if food loss could be predicted in supermarkets and food safety could be guaranteed across the food chain? What if a supermarket could deliver more energy than it could actually use? What if supermarkets had zero emissions and food chains were supplied with self-learning capabilities? And, what if grocery stores had self-adaptive learning and solutions?

These are just a handful of questions that Danfoss, a leading developer of integrated control solutions, refrigeration monitoring equipment, compressors and controllers, hoped to resolve through its food service division.

From day-to-day operations to big-picture food safety optimization, supermarkets have ongoing challenges. Rising energy costs, the expense attributed to asset failure and unplanned downtime are compelling reasons why plans need to be put in place to keep assets performing around the clock, while at the same time reducing the energy bill. Add to this the fact that grocery store margins are, on average, a meager two per cent, and it becomes glaringly obvious why operations are looking for novel ways to eke out value.

David Armstrong, Asset Performance Management Principal Consultant and Service Director for Bentley North America.

Operations in context


With more than 50,000 food retail installations worldwide, Danfoss made it a mission to address these concerns by developing an integrated Smart Store solution that would not only help customers view their operations at a presentation level, create reports on alarms and performance, but would also reduce energy costs for 4,000 sites around the globe.

“The smart store solution integrates control over the refrigeration, the HVAC, the lighting and other applications in general, which ensures safety, brings down energy bills and connects and optimizes the supermarket from cold case to [electronic] file,” said Richard Ruth, product manager – services, Danfoss, who accepted the award for “Innovation in Asset Performance” at the 2016 Be Inspired Awards hosted by Bentley Systems on November 2, 2016.

As part of the Smart Store concept, Danfoss uses a cloud-based service delivery platform, known as Danfoss Enterprise Services, for food-retail applications. It collects a range of data points from connected devices – including compressors, humidity sensors, heat exchangers, condensing units, energy meters, and weather readings – and then uses that information to provide insights into HVACR operations, energy management programs and food safety, and the ultimate goal is to facilitate the installation of preventive programs as a way to improve sustainability.

Alan Kiraly, SVP Asset Performance, Bentley Systems, explains how machine learning can help companies scale up.

To support its service modules, Danfoss turned to Bentley Systems’s AssetWise solution, which captures data from sensors on assets and then displays the data across dashboards. “AssetWise platform is an immersive platform of applications that allow us to have line of sight, which was the original intent of ISO 55000 standard on asset management,” said David Armstrong, Asset Performance Management Principal Consultant and Service Director for Bentley North America.

In simple terms, AssetWise can be likened to an asset lifecycle information management (ALIM) tool that the predictive analytic world needs to have in place to make sense of random information, said Armstrong. “So the ALIM piece is the wrapper around all the other applications… It can be used for document or record management, gives you absolute critical control to make sure you have line of sight to the asset. You know what you’re looking at and why you’re looking at it.”

Sandra Di Matteo, director of Marketing & Technical Communications, Asset Performance, Bentley Systems, and Richard Ruth, Danfoss product manager – Services, share insights on cloud-based service delivery platforms.

The solution is therefore able to allow users to monitor refrigerant levels to ensure timely recharge and protect against food loss, monitor compressor performance and leak detection to benchmark compressor runtimes across stores and improve efficiencies and to remedy leaks, and to support alarm management (a callout service for critical issues).

The partnership between Danfoss and Bentley Systems is mutually beneficial, said Alan Kiraly, SVP Asset Performance, Bentley Systems. “Danfoss is not only getting insights into what clients might do, but are using it in day-to-day operations. They’ve just got terabytes and terabytes of data and we’re working with them on what machine learning can do in order to understand better how we can scale up further.”

Compliance and safety

Using colour-coded boxes to indicate whether an asset is operating above or below its normal level, the AssetWise platform allows customers to “spot in real-time differences in behaviour in the asset’s temperature,” said Ruth. These reports can display historical data to prove that measures are taken, as well as help to predict events and show where actions can be taken ahead of time to ensure food safety.

Regulatory food compliance can be addressed with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and TQI (Temperature Quality Indexing) reports, which document the temperatures in cold cases and cold rooms and ensure compliance with national and international standards, said Ruth.

Significant savings can be achieved through operational analytics, says Richard Ruth, product manager – Services, Danfoss.

Load shedding

Supermarkets are one of the biggest contributors to energy consumption, said Ruth. If a utility company in the vicinity offers a demand-response incentive program, then the system can be programmed to reduce electricity during peak periods. On extremely hot days, for example, lighting inside the supermarket can be adjusted and then restored to the way it was once the demand-response time is over, said Ruth. In turn, the supermarket gets credits on their energy bill for participating in the load-shedding program. “That is another big opportunity in helping with sustainability,” says Ruth.

Sustainable information systems

The collected data can be used to identify the best and worst performers among stores, but is also the backbone for a fact-based decision-making tool. Executive reports provide a consolidated view for making continuous improvement recommendations, said Ruth.

“We have over 8,000 grocery stores that are using this service and they see the value of the analytics that we can bring to the table. We handle three-million alarms that come in from supermarkets annually. We collect over a million data points each week. On average, our savings is six to 12 per cent, depending on the store size. And that can be a huge contribution to their bottom line.”

Bentley’s AssetWise operational analytic capabilities can support the operations and maintenance of any major infrastructure.

Smart Savings

Danfoss reports that its Smart Store Solution allows customers to monitor, manage and operate their systems for maximum efficiency. This is achieved in tandem with Bentley’s AssetWise solution, which provides the operational intelligence needed to achieve five key objectives: 1) Ensure food safety and minimize food loss, 2) Reduce energy use, 3) Anticipate equipment failure, 4) Enable load shedding, and 5) Identify maintenance needs. The solution can achieve energy savings of 50 per cent, with up to one-third lower energy bills. Some locations report 20 per cent less CO2 emission.

Significant savings can be achieved through the use of Bentley’s AssetWise operational analytic capabilities and the Danfoss Smart Store solution itself, says Ruth. Following is just a sampling:

  • – 50 per cent energy savings with Danfoss Smart Store solutions.
  • – Optimized control of cold cases and freezers without compromising food safety can save up to 33 per cent on the energy bill.
  • – 24/7 temperature monitoring with Danfoss Smart Store solutions.
  • – 60 per cent CO2 reduction when replacing HFCs with natural refrigerants.

Rehana Begg, editor of Machinery and Equipment MRO magazine, was a juror in the Asset Performance Management category at Bentley Systems’ Year In Infrastructure 2016.


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