IMS Evolve, the scalable IoT and machine management solutions specialist, has won co-funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to lead a project in collaboration with Tesco PLC, Lincoln University and the Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education (GIFHE). A total sum of £5.2 million will be invested to further develop IMS Evolve solutions into facilitating grid level demand side response (DSR) across the food production and retail industries. Of this, Innovate UK will contribute £3.5 million.
With a National Grid generating margin of just 5.1 per cent during winter 2015/16, demand side response tariffs were devised to financially incentivise businesses to lower electricity use during periods of peak demand. DSR measures reduce network constraints, while supporting broader plans to integrate large-scale renewable energy loads with inconsistent generation output, but have so far been sporadic in uptake.
Up to 14 per cent of UK electricity is consumed by cooling alone*, highlighting cold chain energy consumption within the food retail industry as a significant opportunity for the application of DSR. The IMS Evolve Dynamic Monitoring solution, a real-time edge-based deployment that enables the collection and management of data from machines at an enterprise level, currently enables retailers to automatically configure refrigeration systems to suit its specific contents. Traditionally, supply chain complexity made it more convenient to constantly chill all food to the minimum temperature required by the most susceptible food product (meat), rather than the correct temperature for the products within the units. This resulted in an annual over-cooling of millions of degrees and compromised quality of some food produce.
Through the incorporation of DSR into the solution, IMS Evolve can further leverage the vast amount of available data to determine an operational buffer utilising the thermal inertia of refrigerated products. This will enable retailers to continue cooling using reduced electrical load at peak times, and resume cooling when demand is low. The project, which will involve massive networks of food retailing refrigerators, will represent the largest global demonstration of DSR application.
Jason Kay, Chief Commercial Officer, IMS Evolve, comments: “We’re excited to have been awarded co-funding from Innovate UK, which has created a platform for the best possible team to unite on something that, ordinarily, would not have been able to happen – an SME working in conjunction with an academic body and a large retailer, such as Tesco, to formulate and develop an innovative concept and take it to market.
“As the only scalable solution to manage hundreds of thousands of legacy machines in real time, IMS Evolve’s unique Dynamic Monitoring capability adds value to a business’s core purpose, while removing inefficiencies from its operating model. Within the food retail industry, for example, it addresses the critical customer considerations of food safety and quality, while also reducing energy consumption, improving waste management and transforming the cost of asset ownership.”
*Carbon Trust, The Emerging Cold Economy