U.S. retailer Grocery Outlet has deployed artificial intelligence (AI)-based refrigeration maintenance and energy-saving apps at 79 stores in California, said the apps’ provider, Axiom Cloud, in an announcement yesterday.

The apps are designed to “enhance refrigeration uptime, reduce refrigerant leak rates, and generate new revenue through automated demand response,” said San Jose, California-based Axiom, adding that in the first three months of operation, the apps have helped Grocery Outlet stores save US$418,000 in energy bills and maintenance costs.

“Grocery Outlet has been interested in using cloud analytics for things like predictive maintenance, energy commissioning, and demand response for a few years now, but we hadn’t found the right technology partner” said Frank Davis, Senior Director of Refrigeration & Sustainability at Grocery Outlet. “We are looking to install Axiom apps in more stores throughout the U.S. if results continue to be so positive.”

Emeryville, California-based Grocery Outlet has 430 locations, owned by Independent operators, in California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington. The company recently announced that transcritical CO2 (R744) is now the refrigeration specification for new stores in California.

Real-time data access

With Facilities Analyzer, which Axiom calls its “foundational app,” Grocery Outlet has real-time access to refrigeration data across all enrolled sites in one dashboard. Grocery Outlet’s independent operators also receive “highly-contextual notifications” alerting them to urgent maintenance issues, refrigerant leaks, and energy-saving opportunities, said Axiom.

Axiom’s Virtual Battery app provides Grocery Outlet with “a completely new revenue stream” by utilizing low-temperature refrigeration and HVAC loads in utility demand response programs, said Axiom. Additionally, Virtual Battery allows Grocery Outlet to take advantage of Automated Demand Response incentives, which help reduce costs and improve the ROI on the apps.

“We’re thrilled to announce that Grocery Outlet has progressed from a pilot to a major regional rollout,” said Amrit Robbins, CEO of Axiom Cloud. “Their franchise model means that energy and maintenance costs at individual stores are always subject to additional scrutiny, and we’re looking forward to helping independent operators increase their margins and better serve their communities.”

Axiom’s apps are also being employed by other grocery retailers, such as Sprouts Farmers Market.  Axiom recently announced its first warehouse customer, meal-kit provider HelloFresh, which has saved US$71,000 in refrigeration energy and maintenance costs over six months at one of its U.S. cold storage warehouses by using Axiom’s refrigeration management software.

“We are looking to install Axiom apps in more stores throughout the U.S. if results continue to be so positive.”

Frank Davis, Grocery Outlet