Hidden treasures: Building Management Systems in retail

t-mac explores the savings it has made for its clients during lockdown, and how Building Management Systems made those savings possible.

Lessons from lockdown

Lockdown is now drawing to a close, however this is not to say that the UK is completely out of the woods regarding coronavirus. In fact, as a collective, our recovery is only just beginning.

It is valuable after times of upheaval to reflect on the lessons learnt, in this case the intelligent management of unused facilities.

Nothing turns from asset to liability faster than a commercial property lacking customers. Business may have stopped but rent and utility bills keep coming.

t-mac has helped several businesses to mitigate the costs of economic cooling and this is the story of two of them.

High-street heroics

A wellknown fashion retailer, with over 500 stores across the UK, has added t-mac’s expertise to their portfolio.

Each of these sites possesses complex environmental needs, environmental control set-ups and, subsequently, a need for remote control. Recognising this, the retailer sought to ‘future-proof’ their portfolio by installing comprehensive Building Management Systems.

The remote control that t-mac’s BMS provided meant that utility usage changed in real time according to individual site needs and the ever-changing governmental guidance during lockdown. It made dynamic response to shifting opening hours, fluctuating building occupancy and ongoing security possible. All told, it meant not only averting unnecessary loss, but making unexpected savings too.

Another benefit of having these systems installed prior to lockdown was that store managers could hit the ground running concerning conservation. A site’s utility usage now accounted for sudden closure’s and unexpected events. Moreover, said site was no longer subject to social distancing restrictions because such curtailing happened remotely.

The ability to respond quickly cannot be overestimated; another customer of t-mac’s had to close without warning due to an outbreak of COVID-19. Air conditioning, lighting and heating are all features that may have taken days to shut off, had it not been for t-mac’s intervention, inflicting costs all the while.

It is simple arithmetic to scale savings like these for a single site to a much larger portfolio, which is where the real potential of these systems lies.

System savings

One of the UK’s leading supermarket chains, and customers of t-mac since last year, has nearly 900 stores all in need of refrigeration, lighting and security management. t-mac’s engineers devised Building Management Systems in collaboration with key stakeholders from the supermarket’s brand with a special focus on utilities.

The lighting solution was the most comprehensive element, with 850 stores now benefitting from lighting zones that are subject to a combination of timed controls, alarm interfaces and presence detection. Additionally, some stores have been fitted with remote control for internal temperatures and remote fault-finding to engage more responsively with maintenance needs.

Presently, lighting cost savings so far stand at 15% and t-mac is currently investigating potential savings via dynamic usage schedules. These schedules could avoid charges at peak times and promise to yield further savings on utility bills as high as 10%.

“We selected t-mac BMS due to its ability to connect to our network, ‘talk’ to our existing ac units and report back… The capability to change settings without requiring a member of staff to do so is a great element of the system.”

Graham Ireland – Head of Energy and Mechanical Services for the supermarket chain

The second coming

It’s no secret that a second wave of COVID-19 infections, and a second lockdown, looks increasingly likely. As the weather turns cold again and people become more susceptible to getting ill, the same challenges for businesses are set to re-emerge.

Luckily, business leaders now know what lockdown looks like and can prepare accordingly for the disruption. Logistically speaking, remote site control should be a priority since it affords both flexibility and effective response regardless changeable lockdown restrictions.

Looking beyond COVID-19, Building Management Systems (BMS) are going to be crucial on the road to net zero.

COVID-19 may actually be a blessing in disguise for firms still dragging their heels on BMS because it will provide shareholders more than adequate reason to invest now – allowing them to reap the sustainability benefits later.

t-mac offers a suite of BMS services and expertise informed by over 15 years industry experience and empowered by its own single-platform control technology. Full details of this offering can be found at t-mac’s solutions page.

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