Kroger Q&A


Getting on the Same Page with SENSEI Action Item Tracking
Q&A with Bryan Handy, Kroger Logistics Sustainability Project Manager


SENSEI: Tell me about Kroger’s energy program and goals.

Bryan Handy: The energy program at Kroger has been ongoing for several years, but initially, we didn’t really have a baseline to establish what kind of return we were getting from our projects. We made a decision in the Logistics group to establish a monitoring program to sustain the reductions we were able to get. We went out for bid about three years ago for that program: The first stage was monitoring, and the second stage was optimization.

We’ve established the baseline now and have gone back and compared to internal numbers. In the original program, we had targeted a 5 percent per year reduction. Though we didn’t get anywhere, we wanted to continue trying to do better. We thought we might do a facility optimization program combined with capital projects through audits done in 2004 and others more recently. We set some overall reduction goal for each site based on that information, and we’re tracking that data going forward.


SENSEI: What challenges and barriers have you faced along the way? What have you learned?

BH: Behavioral and training is the biggest challenge—getting people to shut doors between refrigerated spaces all the way and turning off lights on docks and rooms. Also, making sure that when we start doing a review, we get the buy-in of the upper management at the site and operations manager. When we show them how they can get involved and how they’ll get the support and tools they need, like the energy monitoring program, they can see the results.


SENSEI: Why is tracking operations and maintenance (O&M) activities important to your overall energy goals? And how does SENSEI help?

BH: We’ve found that the way equipment is being operated is not energy efficient. Specific pieces like valves and pumps aren’t working or aren’t 100%—they need maintenance. If they’re maintained, we can have greater efficiency at lower cost. Having a tool where we can see what’s being done and where the site folks who are implementing changes can see what they need to do next is very important. We can look at how complex each project is and maximize savings up front by knocking out the simpler tasks first.


SENSEI: What’s your method for knocking out these O&M improvements with SENSEI?

BH: We come up with the list of action items while we’re at each site and help them with a few to ensure buy-in. Then, later we’ll send a long list to the site. By using SENSEI, we’re not just able to give them a snapshot, but we can also categorize them by how difficult they’ll be to complete and also by the energy impact they will have. So we can look at cost, the efficiency benefit, and the length of the project. After we set deadlines for about half of action items up front, we do a conference call with everyone involved about a week after the walk-through. We break out the tasks that are easier to complete, as well as those that will have the greatest impact.


SENSEI: Do you think the SENSEI Action Item tracking helps with building momentum and buy-in?

BH: It really helps, also with accountability. It’s hard to get things implemented without accountability. In SENSEI, everyone can see the deadlines for upcoming projects. The facility staff and I can be on a call together and make notes in the task list. In some instances, we might want to change it on the fly with the site person and the engineer talking about the task over the phone.


SENSEI: Kroger has worked with Cascade Energy for some time. What has made that partnership so successful?

BH: The savings from the first few optimizations with Kroger were huge, but there was no follow up or sustainability program, which we were aware of. So we came back to Cascade, who was in the process of building that same kind of sustainability program for another customer. And we knew we were going to get results. Cascade has been really willing to adapt and put together some programs like SENSEI and custom changes to reporting that Kroger wanted.

Ben E. Keith Case Study

Compare Performance Periods Side-by-Side with SENSEI

Q&A with Ben E. Keith Amarillo’s Kavan Yarber, Facility Manager, and Scott Markham, Refrigeration Technician (plus, resident computer guru)


SENSEI: How long have you been trying to roll back the meter to save energy at your facility? What have you accomplished so far?

Kavan Yarber: We started an energy program with Cascade Energy in 2009. We’ve reduced our energy usage quite a bit. Our baseline was 2.5 million kilowatt-hours; now we’re at about 1.5 million kilowatt-hours, so that’s a 39% change. We’re continually dropping our energy intensity by adding LEDs and a new control system for refrigeration, which helps us a bunch.


SENSEI: Why does Ben E. Keith pursue energy efficiency as a corporate strategy?

KY: We’re looking to save energy, and also save money. Our electrical bill went down from $70,000 a month to $39,000. That’s a lot of money. And when you do that for six branches, it amounts to a lot of savings. The company as a whole is down 27.6%. It makes sense to save money and reduce our carbon footprint. We’re still looking every day at what we can do to reduce electrical, refrigeration, lighting usage.


SENSEI: How do you think SENSEI will help you achieve your energy reduction goals?

KY: By monitoring it, we’ll be able to view impact of the energy improvements we’re making. Without monitoring, we can’t see the effect of those changes. In the future, we’re going to be able to view some of the other corporate location’s logs, and see what they did to improve performance. I think that will be a great feature. We’ll be able to see other branches’ action items and how those items affected the energy use of that location. That will help us a lot.


SENSEI: Scott, what features in SENSEI have been most valuable to you?

Scott Markham: The comparison of data week-to-week and month-to-month [data overlay] can tell me whether a change has helped or hurt energy performance. With that intelligence, I can keep making adjustments to help lower energy use.


SENSEI: How does SENSEI compare to the other energy management software you’ve used?

SM: SENSEI is a lot more user friendly. It also displays information much faster and more clearly than others. And now that my saved views on the dashboard are set up, I just log in to look at what I need to see.


SENSEI: I have one more question for Kavan: You’ve worked with Cascade now for a few years. What is it about the partnership that you’ve had as a facility manager with Cascade that’s made your energy program successful?

KY: They’ve been a great help. It’s nice to get a second set of eyes to come in and see a little bit more than what I usually see. Any advice they give, we all go over it and look at implementing it.