January 2012 Integrated Solutions For Retailers
By Ron Eigenbrod, president, Lightstat, Inc.
High-speed, ethernet-connected data networks have the capability and bandwidth to safely manage data for building and energy controls as long as it is packaged efficiently and securely.
The typical retail chain has invested capital and time in building a high-speed data network to bring POS and credit card authorization functions back to headquarters. Most chains have in-house support personnel to maintain this asset as well. Increasingly, retailers are finding that they can use this existing data highway to control and monitor their stores’ energy use, including lights, refrigeration, and HVAC. Energy management systems (EMS) can peacefully coexist with credit card transactions, inventory counts, and other POS functions. This adds more value to the existing data network. Energy management systems use two-way communications to set and read temperatures, see equipment operating status, troubleshoot problems, read meters, and more. Like a cash register, an EMS can be assigned a unique address on the network that will allow it to communicate back and forth with headquarters by using a common data protocol like TCP (transmission control protocol)/IP.