wilko, one of the UK’s largest family owned DIY, homeware and garden retailers, has confirmed it will start rolling out a nationwide upgrade programme for all the electric motors that drive HVAC air conditioning systems in its stores. 

Following an extensive and successful trial period, the retailer has invested in a new patented IoT-driven Switch Reluctance Smart Motor system, manufactured by Silicon Valley-based SMC Motors and supplied and installed by ‘green tech’ start up, Future Motors Limited, SMC’s exclusive distributor in the UK.

The staged installation of nearly 400 SMC motors in over 100 wilko stores across the UK will commence in July 2020 and be completed within five months, helping to ensure the fastest possible return on investment for the retailer.

Daniel Stanton, Group Facilities Manager, wilko, said: “We have worked closely with Future Motors over the last six months and intensively trialled the SMC Switch Reluctance Smart Motor system across a select number of stores including Grimsby, Hemel Hempstead and North Shields, comparing its productivity, efficiency and energy and cost savings against our incumbent HVAC electric motors. The results have been extremely impressive and we are very pleased to now be announcing the start of a nationwide installation programme.”

The SMC Switch Reluctance Smart Motor’s built-in software and connectivity provides constant real-time monitoring of energy use, speed, torque, and temperature which allows automatic diagnosis of HVAC system issues. This connectivity also means remote controllability, maximising energy efficiency as well as enabling demand-side management to avoid higher energy tariffs and enjoy demand side response revenues.

The wilko stores selected for the trial were chosen on the basis that they all presented a diverse range of challenges in terms of installation, measurement and environmental conditions – so wilko could see how the motors would perform in a variety of conditions. Stores were also selected if they were nearing the end of their lifecycle, to see whether the energy and subsequent costs savings made by the SMC Motors could help ensure the longer term viability wilko’s tenancy in these premises.

Says Simon Potts, Managing Director, Future Motors: “The SMC Switch Reluctance Smart Motor system has been designed to integrate seamlessly with existing BEMS systems, so within the first two weeks of the first trial, it was clear the results were going to be very positive.  The average C02 saved per unit in the trial equated to 2.4 tonnes, with a kilowatt saving per unit of 7,780 KWhrs, when compared to the incumbent electric motor systems. When you scale these savings to take account of the total install base of electric motors across all of wilko’s retail estate, the estimated savings are substantial – 918 tonnes of C02 and 2.97 gigawatt hours throughout the lifecycle of the SMC motors.

Concludes Mr Potts: “As we start to emerge from this pandemic over the next few weeks and
months, many retail and commercial property groups will be assessing how their operations
can become more efficient to help mitigate the commercial effects of the pandemic. The
SMC Smart Switched Reluctance Motor offers these businesses a chance to significantly
reduce a considerable ongoing cost at the heart of their business – their energy

“Our ultimate aim is to provide businesses with the most energy-efficient green technologies
on the market so they can both save energy and secure a strong commercial return on
investment in the process. This installation will deliver both for wilko, enabling the
business to more confidently work towards its ambitious environmental targets and save
money in the process. We consistently refer to the SMC motor as the LED of electric motors,
and for wilko, it has certainly helped shine a bright light on an hidden area of the business
that offers so much potential for cost and energy savings.”

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