Fort Worth, Texas-based Ben E. Keith Foods is the nation’s eighth largest broadline foodservice distributor and one of the world’s largest independent distributors of Anheuser-Busch products. The company operates six distribution centers distributingin 11 southwestern states, serving customers that range from white tablecloth and casual dining restaurants to hotels, schools, health care facilities, and other institutional businesses.

To support rapid growth in the southeastern Texas region, the company is building a new 475,000-square-foot distribution center on an 82-acre site in the Houston metro area that is expected to be operational this year. The design of the new facility highlights the company's commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency.  Innovations range from an underground water retention pond for cooling the refrigeration system to specialized cold dock loading areas and crane-operated aisles to an ultra-efficient, LED-based smart lighting system from Digital Lumens. 

View the installation photo gallery here.

The Ben E. Keith Foods management team was determined to find lighting for its new distribution center that was significantly more flexible and efficient than the traditional HID and HIF lighting currently deployed in other company facilities.  A system that, for safety and productivity reasons, would also deliver light levels to facilitate its 24/7 warehousing operations. 

After a rigorous evaluation of options, it decided on the LED-based Intelligent Lighting System from Digital Lumens. Compared to traditional lighting alternatives, the Intelligent Lighting System in the new Ben E. Keith facility will:

  • Dramatically reduce lighting-related energy use. The Digital Lumens system with integrated sensors and software controls is expected to save more than 90% of the lighting used by the fluorescent lighting considered, and 75% over plain LED alternatives.
  • Achieve consistent performance and durability in all temperature environments.  Unlike traditional lighting, repeatedly cycling fixtures on or off, dimming or continuous cold temperature operation will not degrade or otherwise impact the longevity of the Digital Lumens fixture. For the Ben E. Keith facility, this means that lights can be routinely turned off whenever a space is unoccupied for a specified period of time, even in areas where temperatures consistently reach -40°F.
  • Significantly reduce refrigeration loads. By offering an extremely low heat dissipation fixture, the Digital Lumens system will significantly reduce the thermal loads placed on its new refrigeration systems, saving additional energy and shortening refrigeration duty cycles.   
  • Eliminate routine maintenance costs. By eliminating re-lamping, re-ballasting and other maintenance costs, the facility will eliminate those expenses from annual operating budgets.

In selecting lighting for its new showcase facility, the Ben E. Keith Foods management team was driven by one unassailable fact: the rapidly rising cost of energy is a growing liability that can take its toll on facility budgets. Gaining control of energy use through efficiency will have long-term impacts on profitability and energy security, as well as making a meaningful contribution to the company’s sustainability efforts.

View the installation photo gallery here.

So when the management team began evaluating lighting alternatives for the new distribution center, energy efficiency was at the top of their agenda. Using existing facility costs as a guideline, this led them to the following conclusions:

  • While the upfront costs for traditional fixtures were lower, the energy savings associated with the Digital Lumens system were so significant that the payback period was only marginally extended.
  • With occupancy and daylight harvesting sensors built into each fixture — fixtures are wirelessly networked and centrally managed through integrated software controls — the Digital Lumens system offered the highest level of savings.   
  • The addition of the system-wide intelligence and reporting in the LightRules lighting management system will provide additional insight and control so that the team can better analyze and adjust lighting settings to meet facility needs and energy goals.

“Distribution operations — from facilities to fleet operations — are particularly energy-intensive, which is why efficiency is a primary consideration in every aspect of our business,” said John Fershtand, director of fleet operations and energy, Ben E. Keith Foods. “With this new project, we had the opportunity to identify products and technologies that will create a state-of-the-art facility from both the operations and energy-efficiency perspectives, and lighting was a key decision.

"After reviewing numerous lighting alternatives, including fluorescents and plain LEDs, we selected the Digital Lumens Intelligent Lighting System for its energy efficiency, including the ability to provide light only when and where staff are working, maintenance-free operation, long lifetime, excellent light quality, and rugged design. Add the benefits of extremely low thermal heat loads and better lighting at a fraction of the energy cost of other forms of lighting and the decision to deploy the Digital Lumens system was remarkably easy.”

View the installation photo gallery here.