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Smaller businesses, don’t be left behind

By , Offer Manager Digital Buildings, Anglophone Africa, Schneider Electric.
08 Dec 2023
Mark Freeman, Offer Manager Digital Buildings, Anglophone Africa at Schneider Electric.
Mark Freeman, Offer Manager Digital Buildings, Anglophone Africa at Schneider Electric.

Larger businesses are undoubtedly leading the charge when it comes to managing their energy usage which lead to sustainable and more efficient operations. However, energy and subsequent building management are not only reserved to big conglomerates; smaller business have a lot to gain from implementing proper energy management solutions, scaled to their specific needs.

The reality is, irrespective of your business size, running your operations as energy efficient as possible is a must in time when power provision challenges and costs are escalating at an alarming rate.

Importantly, energy management enable smaller businesses like petrol convenience stores to make the make most of their investment in alternative energy resources, particularly when generators form part of the mix – the cost filling up with diesel or petrol alone can be exorbitant.

While convenience stores don’t provide vital, lifesaving services like hospitals, energy-related issues can still accumulate substantial costs. Think about fridges running at maximum capacity or ovens left on overnight. Every bit of wasted energy translates into higher electricity bills that impact the business bottom line.

As another example, a sector that might not immediately come to mind when it comes to energy efficiency initiatives is microbreweries. These small-scale beer producers have specific processes that demand precise monitoring of temperatures and flow rates. Surprisingly, many of these critical processes are still not digitised.

However, these breweries’ operations can be optimised by introducing digital monitoring solutions. By doing so, microbreweries can enhance their energy efficiency and reduce operational costs.

BMS scaled to smaller business

The reality is countries’ economies are the sum of its parts and small business plays an important role. By implementing a building management system (BMS) business such as retailers, microbreweries, and restaurants have a lot to gain.

A BMS eliminates manual interventions when opening and closing the store, automating lights, ovens, and other equipment. During load shedding, a BMS can control which equipment is on and off to manage the load profile efficiently.

Remote monitoring is another significant advantage. It allows businesses to stay on top of their energy consumption, especially during unexpected changes in electricity supply.

For example, if a business is using a battery backup system, it’s important to amend recharging times particularly when the weather is intermittent or the load shedding schedule becomes more frequent. Automation simplifies this process and allows remote monitoring even when you're not on site.

The good news is smaller businesses can start with a basic retail solution and then customise it to address pain points. These solutions can include technologies such as sensors and meters that monitor and manage alarm systems, pressure and temperature. The key is to provide businesses with the information they need without overwhelming them with data.

In terms of market uptake, there's still a bit of misconception that BMS’ are too expensive. However, increasingly service providers are providing tailored solutions that meet smaller business’ needs without the associated price tag, offering good return on investment.

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