February 2014

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The Global Fast Food Story

“Savings beyond Energy Efficiency”

Ben Carter
VAE Group

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A Global Fast Food Chain’s cold room energy monitoring and optimization.
Small commercial buildings consume three times the amount of energy of large commercial buildings due to their number and yet the opportunity to save energy in this sector is currently relatively untapped.  

A global fast food franchise is always looking at new and innovative ways of saving electricity and reducing its carbon footprint.   A key performance indicator for this particular client is “Cost per product sold” and energy is a large contributing factor to these costs.  

The global fast food franchise was introduced to the VAE Group’s BITPOOL™ Data and Energy Monitoring System in mid-2013. A select group of stores were targeted to trial the technology.  Staff in the stores were not advised of the scope of the trial so that the results would not be skewed.  

Energy efficiency starts with being able to measure how and what is being used, as well as how the employees use the buildings and energy consuming equipment.  As this building did not have a BMS, temperature sensors and reed switches were installed in the cold rooms to measure temperature and the length of time cold room doors were left open.  Electrical meters were installed to measure energy consumption.  

Like all buildings, the relatively small fast food outlets had a story to tell when their data was exposed in Bitpool’s simple to understand format.  Live data can bring about unexpected savings when you start to measure and make the information relevant.


This live dashboard showed us a typical day for the cold room before the staff knew of the monitoring system.

In the above chart, the pink line shows the cold room temperature, the light blue line shows each time the cold room door is open for more than three  minutes and the dark blue columns show the energy consumed by the store.
From this dashboard we can gain quite a lot of useful information.

  1. The cold room is quite efficient on power. On average using only about $8.35 worth of power per day.
  2. The temperature fluctuates based on door opening, peaking at 7C (outside of safe food handling temperatures) but averaging 3-4C
  3. The cold room door is opened frequently for prolonged periods. 526 minutes or 8.76 hours per day in this example.

A closer look exposes the real story of how the cold room is being used, how safe the food is from contamination, and why the building is using the energy that it consumes.  

From a pure energy perspective, with the cold room only using $8 worth of power a day, the potentially savings may only be $1-2 per day.  However when these savings are multiplied x 500 stores in the fast foods Australian stores alone, it becomes an opportunity worth exploring.   

$2 x 7 = $14 per week x 52 week = $832 per year saving x 500 stores = $364,000 as a whole group.  Now that is a lot of free lunches!  

From a simple analysis made by a non-technical person, the following questions were raised:

These questions and more were asked. The investigation found that this particular store (which was a brand new store) had mostly new staff that were not necessarily from a catering or cooking background.   

The data dashboards allowed the store management to identify another training opportunity to streamline procedures that removed the need to keep going into the coldroom unnecessarily.    

The next step was to inform the staff that they were being monitored and implement the training.  

After the staff training and changes in cold room usage the building data told a new story.

Dashboard results 

We can now see on a typical day,

Spins-offs included the higher productivity of staff, they were able to save approx. 5 hours per day in inefficient practices.  

contemporary 5 hours per day x 7 days = 35 hours per week x 52 weeks = 1820 hours per year.  Based on the average employee earning $17 per hour, that change has just saved the company over $30,000.00 per year. Applying that saving across all stores in Australia alone would save the group over $15 million dollars annually.  

If we equate the average kWh savings per day;

7.58 kWh x 365 = 2,766 kWh x 500 stores = 1,383,350 kWh/year for the group  

Emissions = 203 cars off the road per year or, 25,026 trees over 10 years  

Not bad for a small investment in a BITPOOL™ Data and Energy Monitoring System  

Value Added by VAE  
The real power of the small fast food franchise story is that the VAE Group Bitpool system allowed the stores to tell their “real” story. This information delivered insights that allowed  management to not only optimize power usage but to dramatically change the way they used the building - improving energy efficiency, store operations and product integrity as well as the potential to save many millions of dollars in operating costs.   

BITPOOL™ economically empowers organizations to harness the power of their data worldwide! 


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