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Sports giant turns to WEMS wireless building energy management system

19 July 2013

UK fitness club and retailer DW Sports is in the process of adopting wireless building energy management systems (BEMS) designed, installed and commissioned by WEMS International. Trials have been completed at three sites, with average energy savings of over 17% and DW Sports are now embarking on a phased roll-out programme.

Dave Whelan Sports was founded in 2009, when Dave Whelan (the company’s founder and the current chairman of Wigan Athletic Football Club) bought out the remaining 53 JJB fitness clubs and associated retail stores. In just three years, the company has established itself as a thriving industry leader, in both the fitness club and sports retail markets. However, as a young organisation with a largely inherited estate, the company wanted to initiate a project that examined its energy use with the aim of delivering greater efficiency and savings.

“At a board level DW Sports is committed to energy reduction and sustainability in a very real and proactive way,” states Dan Hubbard, the company’s Utilities & Property Systems Manager. “We had made some inroads by addressing the ‘low hanging fruit’ but knew the real energy efficiency solutions involved taking greater control of plant.”

DW Sports’ ready-built estate featured two BEMS, controlling some kit, plus a lot of independent control.The company wanted to “remove human error from the equation” in terms of more efficient operation and control of the estate. The WEMS solution was able to bring all of the controls together.

A wireless future
“We went through a phase of evaluating and re-evaluating the available energy control technology that could help us achieve our targets,” says Mr Hubbard. “For us, technology must be a safe investment, must not affect the customer experience in our fitness centres, and must go on in the background so as not to cause distraction or disruption. For these reasons, the installation of a wireless solution such as WEMSystem made perfect sense.”

Simple, fast and low cost retrofitting of wireless BEMS is now a reality. WEMSystem uses a frequency below the regular range to avoid interference with other office or retail wireless equipment, and uses a narrowband signal that gives the distance required (up to 8km) to cover even the most challenging of building structures.

At the centre of the system is WEMSprogrammer, which communicates with wireless controllers and sensors placed throughout the estate to create a virtual ‘mesh’ network across the controlled space. The programmer is constantly receiving valuable environmental data from sensors that enables the building stock to consume energy in as lean a manner as possible.

Instant ROI
Trialled at three locations,initial data has showed an average and immediate reduction in energy of over 17%.

“The WEMS wireless install was very clean and non-disruptive,” confirms Mr Hubbard. “In fact, intelligent control and the integration of ventilation and air conditioning systems could soon deliver even greater savings. We are now looking forward to an exciting future of energy savings as we move forward in the process.”

Mr Hubbard and the team at DW Sports have worked closely with WEMS to scrutinise the initial data and optimise the trial sites to achieve maximum savings. Wherever waste is identified, a solution is presented to rectify the situation. This of course demands staff engagement and project ownership. Employees at DW Sports are therefore required to work alongside the process to make the plant and buildings more energy efficient.

Rags to riches
Dave Whelan is one of the nation’s most admired businessmen. He took a single sports shop in Wigan and built it into the 400+ retail superstore giant that was JJB, before selling the business in 2007. Today, DW Sports boasts membership levels in excess of 250,000.

Mr Whelan also bought his local football team, Wigan Athletic, and was responsible for the club’s fairy-tale rise from England’s bottom division into the Premier League. If this level of ambition is anything to go by, the future of DW Sports, albeit with a little help from WEMS, is in good hands.

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