SCARBOROUGH, Maine -- Through the use of power conditioners, Hannaford Bros. here has significantly reduced its electricity costs and protected its stores' data and computer systems in the event of power spikes.
The system proved valuable during the heat wave that hit the Northeast earlier this month, sending out an alert that the power going to the store systems was not adequate to run the computers, enabling the systems to be safely shut down without data loss or damage to the computers.
"By using [power conditioners and power conditioners with an uninterruptible power source] we're able to reduce our electrical costs in a new store by $10,000," said Kevin Green, manager of retail automation installation for Hannaford.
The power conditioner keeps the energy free of "noise" that can be generated by items such as machinery or escalators, which can affect a line's power supply.
The power conditioner with an uninterruptible power source can use a battery and is usually used where back-up power could be necessary in the event of a power shortage, spike or outage.
A source familiar with the situation said the cost savings from the power conditioner are generated from the fact that the retailer doesn't need to run dedicated lines and develop an infrastructure to ensure power to a store's systems.
"Rather than trying to do that work ourselves, we can rely on [the power conditioners] to clean that power for us," Green added, noting that 50 Northeast Hannaford stores are currently receiving new power conditioners and power conditioners with UPS.
Green said if the retailer doesn't have the ability to shut down cleanly during a power shortage, spike or outage, the retailer's files could be corrupted or lost.
Hannaford said that savings from the power-conditioning system are also generated from its "being available" to its customers. This was the case for Hannaford last week, as a heat wave in the Northeast caused a large number of brownouts in several states.
According to Green, a heat wave sparked a brownout in an area of New Hampshire that is home to a Hannaford store.
The store's power-conditioning devices from Oneac Corp., Libertyville, Ill., were able to alert the retailer that the system was in need of power or it was going to shut the systems down. "One of our stores called and said that all of our [power conditioners] were beeping, they were beeping because power from the street wasn't adequate to support the systems," Green said.
He added that the power conditioners and UPS were able to provide clean power to the system, keeping the store in operation and the store's files safe from corruption.
"If you think about power, it's like a flat line, a heart monitor. It's supposed to be flat. [If] power companies say we're taking a drain, they drop the power supplied," Green said, adding the conditioning system supplements the gap in power.
"What's happening is that the output is always constant," he said. With noise or spikes it either absorbs or adds, Green added.
If a store's power goes out and a generator starts, the power conditioners will protect all the addressed systems for the several seconds it may take for the generator to be fully operational, Green said.
If the internal generator does not come on after several minutes, the system will inform the retailer to take down the systems.
Currently, Hannaford's conditioning systems are monitored store by store, but technology will soon allow for real-time visibility to all the retailer's power-conditioning systems.
The retailer is in the process of installing a solution from a third party that would allow for real-time visibility of the conditioning systems in all its stores from one central location, Green told SN. In the event one of the store's power conditioners or UPS is faulty, the retailer can place an electronic service call requesting a dispatch to the location with the problem.