With South African retailers looking for ways of recovering from the latest lockdown, as well as the looting and vandalism, an opportunity to decrease costs on the system that comprises the bulk of their energy spend, which is refrigeration, has arisen.
“All food retailers rely on refrigeration and are compelled to spend a lot of time, money and finite resources on managing these systems in-house. However, new, ground-breaking technology and the emergence of a pay-per-service model for clean cooling are changing the status quo,” says local refrigeration manufacturer EP Refrigeration business development head Dawie Kriel.
He adds that a solar-assisted refrigeration system, coupled with an outsourced “cooling-as-a-service” (Caas) contract, provides an innovative, cost-cutting solution for retailers.
He explains that with a refrigeration system, there is scheduled maintenance to coordinate, emergency maintenance in the event of a breakdown or leak, constant monitoring and risk management to consider.
Adding to this is the inevitable increase in the cost and consumption of energy, as well as the cost of wear and tear.
With the right financing strategy and support, these infrastructural problems should not have to cost business owners valuable time and effort.
Replacing such systems usually requires massive capital expenditure, which leads to a “vicious cycle” of yearly losses because any gas leak or systems outage results in wasted electricity and stock losses.
The solution, according to Kriel, is to partner with a refrigeration expert that can take responsibility for the entire cooling chain process.
“Servitisation is a growing global trend and has become one of the most viable ways of saving on capital and operational costs for businesses,” he says.
In a Caas scenario, a business does not own any of the refrigeration infrastructures on its premises.
Instead, a service provider installs a high-quality system and sells the cooling service at a competitive guaranteed cost to the business.
He explains that the maintenance, monitoring and efficiency risk responsibilities are all outsourced, so life-cycle costs decrease significantly.
Therefore, service providers will offer CaaS as a solution, which includes the installation of a refrigeration system, the integration into the clients’ current systems, if in place, as well as the running, maintenance and billing of the refrigeration unit.
EP Solar CEO Manie de Waal says although there is the question of efficiency, the company proposes connecting a grid-tied solar generation system to the refrigeration system because such a system consumes the bulk of power during daylight hours, adding that solar power can also be integrated into the CaaS outsourced model.
Reducing the cost and the time required to manage the cooling for a retail business may be one of the best decisions to make this year, he adds.
Kriel further reiterates that solar installation requires little to no extra technologies and is easily coupled with the refrigeration unit in place.
This is then tied into the grid and both sources can run simultaneously to maximise output.
Further, these systems can be easily connected to a standby power source, such as batteries or a generator, to continue providing power to maintain the refrigeration system for the client.
“The future of business is all about implementing the best efficiencies. We can think of nothing more efficient than state-of-the-art cooling powered by cutting-edge renewable-energy technology,” Kriel concludes.