Matalan goes wireless with its new building energy management system and achieves 20% energy savings.

BEMS designed by WEMS and installed & commissioned by Learnd is paying significant dividends for retail giant Matalan.

The world’s first truly web enabled wireless Building Energy Management System (BEMS) has been installed at 206 of Matalan’s 216-store estate. Impressive average energy savings of 20% have been reported from a recent measure taken across all stores, while the annual financial saving is estimated at a staggering £1.5m.

  • Retail giant Matalan selects Learnd & WEMS for 206 of its 216-store estate
  • Average electricity savings of 20% achieved
  • WEMS’ wireless systems are 50% cheaper and 75% quicker to install

The Matalan management team identified the need for a more robust level of control over environmental comfort, varying levels of lighting and electro-mechanical equipment.

With the Matalan estate registering a combined energy cost of over £12m per year, energy consultants Inenco suggested that the company consider the UK-manufactured WEMS’ wireless system and Learnd as the installation partner. Opting for wireless is a big deal for a retail organisation where the floor space is populated by customers, as a conventional hard-wired system would undoubtedly disrupt trading.

Wire-free technology

In a bid to revolutionise the market and remove the expense attached to cabled BEMS, the WEMS System is an innovative wireless BEMS designed to be as simple to install and use as possible. The system is completely wireless, infinitely scalable, developed using open source platforms and can be controlled from anywhere in the world via the internet.

Matalan decided to implement the WEMS system, installed by Learnd at five trial stores. At the end of the trial phase in May 2012, the company was suitably convinced that a full roll-out would deliver significant savings. Obviously an investment such as this must compete with other important capital projects, but with “incredibly sharp payback periods” of only 6-7 months, justification was straightforward.

Matalan has made the commitment to install WEMS system in all our retail outlets. The installed stores have shown a considerable reduction in energy consumption of circa 20% and this is reflected in our energy bill which has decreased dramatically since implementation.

Environmental Manager – Matalan

The project

The ‘WEMS System’ directly controls and monitors Matalan’s lighting, heating and cooling plant, removing the possibility of human error and minimising waste energy. This incorporates sales area lighting, back-of-house lighting, external lighting, air handling units (AHUs), over-door heaters, gas-fired heaters, split air conditioning units and electric panel heaters.

Among the innovations at Matalan, is a wireless key switch to ensure a minimal overnight base load with regard to lighting. When the keyswitch is unset, the system enables a level of lighting adequate for stocking and cleaning prior to the store opening. Furthermore, modulating control oversees any heating or cooling actuators and dampers with regard to the AHUs, while gas-fired heaters are manipulated on a trading time versus temperature dead band basis.

This means that when the stock temperature drops to a level 2°C below the set point, the heating is activated to heat the room back to the required temperature.

The results

In terms of financial return, measuring across all 206 stores, financial savings to date are estimated at a staggering £17,016,813 (May 2019), whilst annual savings are projected to be in excess of £1.5m.

…financial savings to date are estimated at a staggering £17,016,813 (May 2019), whilst annual savings are projected to be in excess of £1.5m.