Ayers Rock Resort

Total Energy Management System: Ayers Rock Resort

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Courtesy of Ayers Rock Resort

Ayers Rock Resort operates in the semi-arid conditions of the Central Australian desert. Since electricity is a major component of running costs, the Resort has installed a computer based preventative maintenance monitoring system, which links all facilities at the Resort and enables tracking of energy costs by process and item of equipment. A monthly energy audit process, together with the newly installed monitoring system, has greatly enhanced the Resortís ability to identify energy reduction opportunities.

Background

Located in the 'Red Centre' of Australia, Ayers Rock Resort is an oasis in the midst of semi-arid desert. To cater for the many visitors that come to explore Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), the Resort provides a wide range of accommodation, from the luxury Sails in the Desert Hotel to backpacker dormitories.

Given its remote location far from any other township, the Resort provides visitors with an extensive range of facilities, including three hotels, five restaurants, four bars, three swimming pools, a visitors centre, hairdresser and child care, observatory, conference centre, amphitheatre, camping ground, medical centre, service station, police station, two art galleries, designer shops, post office, bank, bakery, supermarket, newsagent, gift shops, ice creamery and tour centre.

As Uluru is one of Australiaís national icons, Ayers Rock Resort has been designed with low-rise architecture and desert colours in keeping with the natural environment. However, at the Sails in the Desert Hotel, immense white sails provide shade for guest comfort, and lush green lawns are bordered by abundant native plants and trees.

The Process

Environmental design features incorporated in the original development, included key tags in the rooms to conserve electricity, water-efficient shower heads and dual flush toilets to conserve water, and solar panels to reduce domestic water heating energy consumption.

Recycled sewage water from the hotelís own water treatment plant is used to maintain the Resortís vegetation, thus helping to conserve water abstraction from the Dune Plains Aquifer.

A profitable recycling program for glass, office paper, cardboard and cooking oil has been in-place at the Resort since January 1997, returning on average about $4,000 per month.

In early 1997, Ayers Rock Resort won the Environmental Achievement Award at the national Australian Federation of Travel Agents Awards. The award was based on evaluation of the key areas of environmental design and construction, training and marketing, waste and energy management, conservation and protection, and environmental policies and procedures.

Cleaner Production Initiatives

While environmental features had been incorporated from the outset in the development of the Ayers Rock Resort, management considered a more disciplined approach was needed to ensure continuing improvements in environmental performance.

Given the extreme temperatures of Central Australia, energy conservation is a high priority. Energy costs are a substantial part of operating the Resort, with electricity costs averaging $1.2 million per annum.

The challenge faced by Ayers Rock Resort was to conserve energy by eliminating waste and utilising energy more efficiently, while at the same time maintaining the Resortís high attraction to international visitors.

Installation of the FIDELIO Preventative Maintenance Computer System

An effective monitoring system was required as the first step in identifying areas of energy wastage. By tracking energy costs and allocating them directly to processes and equipment, managers can identify cost reduction opportunities that can improve environmental quality. Reducing energy consumption and energy waste not only improves the Resortís efficiency and price competitiveness, but minimises environmental degradation and consumption of non-renewable resources. The goal of the Resort is to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent by the year 2000.

To achieve its aim, the Ayers Rock Resort installed in December 1997 a computer based preventative maintenance system, known as FIDELIO. The system was chosen because of its compatibility with the hotel reservation computer system already in-place at the Resort and its wider use in the hospitality industry as a management tool.

The maintenance plan used by FIDELIO incorporates equipment specifications provided by manufacturers, and is then configured to the specific needs of the Resort. For monitoring purposes, the Resort is divided into three zones based on individual hotels and associated facilities.

FIDELIO enables all maintenance tasks and the priority of each task (ie urgent, high, normal) to be centrally itemised. The system lists when preventative maintenance tasks need to be completed. Instead of assuming that routine maintenance tasks will be undertaken, FIDELIO identifies which items of equipment need to be checked and when. By generating simple checklists, the system ensures that preventative maintenance tasks are performed at regular intervals.

The tracking capability of the system allows emerging problems, both of a specific and general management nature, to be identified and solutions such as energy reduction initiatives to be formulated.

Training of hotel managers and maintenance engineers was accomplished by requiring them to complete a monthly report using the system.

Preventative maintenance tasks are now a high priority at Ayers Rock Resort and maintenance engineers are required to report on any preventative maintenance not undertaken.

Implementation of Monthly Energy Auditing

Implementing monthly energy audits was the second step to improving energy conservation at Ayers Rock Resort. While energy audits have been conducted at the Resort since July 1997, introduction of the FIDELIO system has greatly enhanced their usefulness.

The audits involve two to three people for half a day each month. The Assistant Technical Services Manager, along with the individual food and beverage and/or hotel manager of the three hotels at the Resort undertake a walk-through review, identifying major energy consuming areas, obvious areas of energy waste and inefficiency, and priority areas for further investigation. The auditing team works to a checklist, covering items such as: whether lobby lights are left on during the day; whether food warming lights are left on in the dining room when not in use, or that cold storage doors have a good seal. The team also investigates problem areas listed by FIDELIO.

On the basis of these monthly energy audits, energy reduction initiatives are put in place. Through this process, for example, it was found that, while lights were necessary for safety reasons when guests returned to their apartments after dark, leaving the lights on all night wasted energy and disturbed residents closest to stairways. By installing motion-sensor lights in the outside stairways of one hotel apartment block, not only was guest safety improved but a saving of around $10,220 per annum in electricity costs was achieved as a result of approximately 6 hours less operation each night.

In another example, lights left on all night in the ablution blocks of the camping ground attracted hordes of insects, making the building harder to clean. Furthermore, the lights upset campers, who were keen to experience the natural darkness of the desert night. By fitting the ablution blocks with movement detectors, an annual saving of $122,660 in electricity costs was achieved.

The staff canteen at the Sails in the Desert Hotel used a large amount of energy since all lights were controlled by a single switch. Simple rewiring and provision of a second switch allowed half of the lights in the canteen to be turned off, with natural daylight through the canteen windows maintaining light levels during the day. Savings in electricity costs of $336 per annum resulted from this simple and minor initiative.

An on-going project at the Resort involves the replacement of 40-50 watt incandescent light bulbs with compact 11 watt fluorescent lamps. Around 240 light bulbs, or 70 percent of total light bulbs at the Resort, have been replaced to date, with an average annual saving of $151,200 in electricity costs.

On the basis of the energy audits, the FIDELIO tracking system allows the monitoring of electricity consumption against hotel occupancy rates. While it was presumed high occupancy would significantly increase kilowatt usage in hotel operations, occupancy had in fact very little effect on overall operating costs. The outside ambient temperature had greater influence on kilowatts used. This has prompted investigations into window tinting and better insulation.

Advantages of the Process

Installation of the FIDELIO Preventative Maintenance Computer System


Installation of the system cost approximately $20,000 and had an expected payback period of less than two years.

Preventative maintenance is expected to halve the number of equipment breakdowns and lessen any inconvenience caused to guests.

FIDELIO complements the Resortís Honeywell Building Management System in implementing process changes in both standard procedures and equipment modifications. FIDELIO tracking led to changes in procedures for operating water chillers used to cool guest rooms. By setting start and stop temperatures closer together, energy use was reduced while optimum guest comfort was maintained. Equipment requiring frequent maintenance can either be modified or replaced to improve energy efficiency.

Implementation of Monthly Energy Auditing


In addition to the savings derived from energy reduction initiatives, the monthly energy audit report helps to improve awareness and build support for energy reduction projects. The one-page report generated for each hotel manager lists the energy costs of that hotel for both the current and the previous months. Armed with this information, managers are able to assess the performance of their respective operations and the recommendations made by the audit team.

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