The warm-up is over: why retailers need automation to accelerate emission reductions

Energy Management
Jessica Caldwell
13/09/2022
The warm-up is over: why retailers need automation to accelerate emission reductions

The race is on to cut in-store carbon emissions on the road to net zero. And automation delivers the fastest route to success, according to LoweConex Head of Product Jessica Caldwell.

According to a survey conducted by Capgemini, automation in facilities management rose from 18% of retail stores in 2019 to a projected 33% in 2022.

Yet the race to net zero, the current fuel crisis, and increased consumer awareness around sustainable values are refocusing attention on efficiency best practices throughout the sector.

Energy efficiency matters due to soaring fuel costs, and eco-conscious consumers see sustainability as an asset. Green businesses are also viewed more favourably by investors.

In 2022, many retailers are now beginning to recognise sustainability as a competitive advantage.

Yet the need to balance efforts in the face of competing priorities can leave some retailers wondering where to start.

36% of retailers and 60% of grocers see the time necessary to do what’s needed to reduce carbon emissions as challenging, according to a study conducted by KPMG.

The traditional approach to energy efficiency involves people making manual interventions to control assets and optimise equipment performance.

However, during the pandemic, the UK retail industry lost 89,000 jobs in the first quarter of 2021 due to redeployment and redundancy.

Retailers still find it hard to recruit, leading to shortages that place more pressure on existing staff and make asset management at scale increasingly challenging.

Furthermore, as retail stores evolve, the number of systems, assets, and technologies generating data grows exponentially.

Unfortunately, many stores within estates remain disconnected from each other, with no overall visibility or centralised way of sharing and acting on the data needed to manage assets more efficiently.

This leaves staff and third-party contractors attempting to manage assets in silos, reacting to in-store climate and equipment performance needs on an asset-by-asset and store-by-store basis.

However, thanks to the latest advances in IoT-based technologies, intelligent automation informed by centralised data, can transform energy efficiency in a fraction of the time needed by traditional manual methods.

Automation speeds up energy-saving practices

According to the Carbon Trust ' Refrigeration Road Map, ' supermarkets are responsible for 3% of the UK’s total energy consumption and 1% of greenhouse gas (CHG) emissions.

And a single typical big-four supermarket store incurs around c.£200,000 in energy bills annually.

Retail estates have focused on carbon offsetting activities and on-site renewable generation over the last few years. But managing energy consumption more efficiently remains one of the fastest ways to reduce carbon emissions and costs.

Intelligent automation involves using centralised data to inform dynamic control actions that adjust assets, including HVAC, refrigeration or lighting in real-time, using IoT technology.

The data capture can also feed benchmarked targets in a sustainability strategy. And the systems deliver instant energy savings without the need to redeploy labour for manual interventions.

Energy savings at scale

Whether retailers are managing a few hundred stores or a few thousand, interconnected estates enable intelligent automation to deliver not just unrivalled speed but vital scalability.

Economies of scale allows businesses to obtain cost advantages when productions become efficient, automation is the tool that allows retailers to realise this principal and its bottom-line benefits within store sustainability.

Energy saving initiatives performed on one asset in one store, can be replicated across every asset in every store in an instant.

The impact of different changes in store environments, in different locations can be automatically detected and energy saving adjustments actioned accordingly in real-time.

Allowing retailers to turn isolated achievements into widespread sustainability success.

Round-up

  • An estimated 67% of retailers are yet to take advantage of intelligent automation
  • Climate change is always on; automation should be too
  • Intelligent automation can cut carbon emissions and reduce energy costs from day one
  • IoT connects HVAC, refrigeration and lighting assets across a whole estate
  • Automation removes the need to rely on time-intensive staff interventions
  • Energy management sits at the heart of ESG strategy
  • Sustainable businesses are more attractive to investors
  • Employees typically prefer to work for sustainable businesses
  • Sustainability is seen as an asset by eco-conscious consumers
  • Automation creates a competitive advantage

This insight is brought to you by Jessica Caldwell, Head of Product at LoweConex

With over 5 years’ experience incubating high growth start-ups within the global tech market and an academic background in law and business sustainability management, Jessica is passionate abut helping businesses drive sustainable change by embracing innovative technologies.  Actively involved in public policy forums, Jessica has curated a unique blend of industry knowledge supported by a strategic understanding of sustainability at both an enterprise and governmental level.

About LoweConex

LoweConex are a team of technology innovators. Leading the development and distribution of a new generation of IoT systems we enable retailers to connect, optimise and remotely control their instore asset portfolio in real-time. 

We are the only OmniTech brand that creates profitability from your assets via scalable control, promoting sustainable business.

About Charles Tyrwhitt

Established in 1986, Charles Tyrwhitt is a quintessentially British multi-channel clothing retailer that specialise in the provision of dress shirts, ties, suits, casualwear, shoes and accessories.  With retail stores now located across UK, USA and even Paris their commitment to quality, timeless style and exemplary customer service has propelled their brand to widely accredited global recognition.