Imperial Retail Logistics launches dual energy saving initiative for its fleet and warehousing

11 August 2015

As one of South Africa’s leading distributors of a complete cross-section of product types, Imperial Retail Logistics (IRL) is at the forefront of energy and emissions savings in every aspect of its operations. From warehouse storage to on-the-road transport, IRL utilises the most advanced technologies to achieve energy and cost savings while reducing its overall carbon footprint.

The energy-saving initiative got underway in October 2013 with the new vehicle aero kit adaptation being fitted to 200 vehicles. The benefits have been immediate with fuel savings of between 5 – 8% for the period.

As with all initiatives taken by Imperial, the sustainability of the twin projects received the highest priority. Long-term savings are embedded in the structure of the roll-out.

Instant on-site monitoring – big energy savings

Following the principle that you can only manage what you can measure, Imperial Retail Logistics has installed a system of online metering for its energy usage in warehouses, cold rooms and battery and wash bays in March 2015.

This will allow us to monitor the usage of electricity and water, and deploy interventions that can result in savings. These meters enable immediate responses to incidents such as water leakages. They give the actual amount spent instead of municipal estimated amounts. Depots are also able to view the actual wash bay and freezer warehouse costs.

The benefits of online metering are:

  • Reliable and complete energy data showing energy consumption in real time
  • Account verification that shows a depot’s metered account and can highlight account anomalies
  • Ability to track energy and efficiency projects
  • Set-and-forget reporting where the depot selects the reports they need and the system automatically emails the reports
  • Automated power guardian – the system sends alerts when incidents occur
  • The output from these meters can be used by any manager to measure and drive efficiencies
  • Minimises financial and legal risk

The online metering is an electronic measure of the consumption of both water and electricity monitored in real time. The installation phase of the operation has been completed in May 2015 and is currently in use in 30 operations which are at three sites: Montagu Gardens in Cape Town; Mount Edge combe in Durban; and Jupiter in Germiston IRL has installed energy management systems in their battery bay operations which will manage the energy requirement and reduce the “spikes” in these areas. Reducing spikes in energy will reduce energy cost by itself.

The new cold rooms all have energy management in place and meters are operating in all battery rooms and wash bays. The main advantage of the system is that the real time information supplied allows immediate action to be taken by identifying problem areas. The metering system also contributes enormously to savings by being able to control and cut out ‘spikes’.

The real time monitoring measures total site usage and the estimated value of the initiative is R1 million.

The overall objective of the monitoring system is to know about possible issues in advance and thus being able to react quickly. This is critical information as the batteries are huge 24 and 28 volt units and their charging is staggered over each 24-hour period.

The online meters used by IRL are proven world-leading devices now installed and used in 70 countries around the globe. They meet all Quality and Safety functionality requirements as well as all major IEC standards applicable to the various requirements. They also provide additional functionality for advanced data acquisition and flexible tariff control for large industrial customers.

Streamlining truck performance on the road

To further reduce its carbon footprint and achieve even higher diesel and fuel savings, Imperial Retail Logistics has installed cutting-edge new Aero Kits on 200 of its vehicles. The streamlining process commenced in October 2013 when 93 vehicles were fitted with Aero Kits in a pilot project; since then, through on-going research and development, IRL is making additional strides in vehicle adaptation. It aims to develop a kit that closes off virtually the entire truck from wind friction.

The current configuration utilises side skirting on the trucks that deflects the wind around the wheel arches and reduces turbulence. This innovation has already realised fuel savings of 5 – 8% and should soon be rolled out to other divisions within the Imperial Group. The current estimated value of the streamlining initiative is R3 million.

  2013 2014 Full Fairing Side Skirt
Vehicles purchased 56 87 Yes Yes

Going the extra mile in ensuring road safety and good driver behaviour

Since June 2015 Imperial Retail Holdings has been Road Transport Management System-compliant and certified. RTMS is an industry-led, voluntary self-regulation scheme that encourages consignees, consignors and transport operators engaged in the road logistics value chain to implement a vehicle management system that preserves road infrastructure, improves road safety and increases the productivity of the logistics value chain.

The benefits of RTMS include:

  • Improved road infrastructure and road safety
  • Better maintenance management control
  • Improved load accuracy (reduction in over- or underloading)
  • Improved transport productivity and social responsibility
  • Improved driver safety

In terms of managing driver behaviour, IRL has installed advanced vehicle tracking and monitoring systems on its trucks. The key features are driver identification and access control and the benefits for the company are:

  • Knowing which vehicles are driven by which drivers
  • Information as to driving violations and area of occurrence
  • Facilitating driver scoring
  • Preventing trips by unauthorised drivers
  • Tighter management control and enhanced security

Apart from the main areas of energy saving and carbon emission reduction outlined above, IRL is continually seek new means of saving costs with a view to the sustainability of the company’s endeavours. Video-conferencing now plays a major role in reducing the need for air flights while energy management is a company-wide commitment, with low energy lighting now being a standard company policy.

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