Integrating systems and smart facility insights lead the way.
By Ron Chapek
As 2016 enters its final days, it’s time to start planning for 2017. For convenience store operators, it’s often a broken record: reduce costs and increase sales while maintaining high standards and happy customers. Easier said than done. One way to improve store operations is to utilize facility controls to better understand store systems like HVAC, lighting and refrigeration and manage facility processes.
HVAC, lighting and refrigeration systems represent a significant cost associated with the operation of a convenience store, but there is a growing need to integrate store systems. This assimilation will provide insight into the overall operation of the facility as convenience operators continue to focus on customer service. In addition to controlling critical store systems, convenience store management needs to support an inviting environment for consumers while ensuring that fresh and frozen food products are maintained at the appropriate temperature. With continued emphasis on maximizing revenue and profits, retailers can’t afford lost sales, or worse, the loss of valuable customers. By incorporating integrated facility controls, paired with remote monitoring services, retailers can gain visibility and control of their stores and provide an optimal customer experience. .
Integrated Facility Control
As food retail stores become more complex, scalability of systems is imperative. Retailers need inclusive facility solutions that fit a variety of formats, new technology and equipment. Many food retail enterprises are comprised of many sites featuring all different types and brands of legacy systems that might have compatibility issues. An integrated facility control system provides HVAC system control, monitoring of complex refrigeration systems and lighting management, connecting existing equipment, or new versions of devices functioning on different operating systems, throughout the store.
Retailers looking to improve operations and increase energy efficiency should also consider an integrated facility management system. Some systems can monitor and report energy consumption as well as provide alerts when there are potential issues like equipment out of temperature range or energy usage above set parameters. Retailers can use that information to reduce the energy demand during peak periods, minimize energy usage and directly impact utility bills by reducing total energy costs.
Remote Monitoring Insights
Remote monitoring services offer detailed tracking of convenience store conditions and issue alerts when equipment is not operating properly. Retail end users are able to access real-time performance data and receive analytics reports about what is happening at the store level—as well as across an entire chain—and take appropriate action to remedy problems. Third-party remote monitoring centers are staffed around the clock to remotely process, triage and resolve alarms. Monitoring and evaluation of this timely information on energy expenditure, maintenance costs, refrigerant leaks and shrink causes provides retailers with powerful insights to help with everyday decision making for operational improvement.
Remote monitoring can oversee and improve energy consumption at individual locations or enterprise-wide using setpoints and alarm management. These services enable centralized data collection and real-time views into HVAC, refrigeration and lighting systems, allowing retail management to identify potential issues and diagnose system problems early before shoppers notice—or it affects food quality.
By pairing facility controls and remote monitoring data can be collected on important performance indicators, including refrigerated case and product temperatures, energy usage and HVAC discharge and space temperatures, store managers can quickly respond with detailed information to issues that may impact the customer experience, food safety and reduce store shrink totals. This information will also help retailers comply with industry regulations like the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), as well as create an economical advantage in today’s increasingly competitive industry.
Monitoring also allows retailers to see that store equipment has been installed properly and is maintained at the correct specifications to avoid future maintenance issues. Segregating these potential problems and shrink sources allow convenience store retailers to make operational improvements that can result in significant cost savings. Retailers can also use preventive maintenance measures to reduce equipment downtime and avoid expensive issues that could negatively affect the customer shopping experience.
As retailers prepare for the New Year, taking the time to consider facility controls could be a smart resolution. Implementing the latest integrated facility systems along with remote monitoring will help convenience store leaders to deliver simple, more flexible control of their system architecture. Better control of HVAC equipment, refrigerated cases and lighting will be beneficial to improving efficiency, reducing costs, enhancing store operations and optimizing the customer experience.
As senior product manager of Enterprise Software and Services for Retail Solutions, Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions, Ron Chapek is responsible for leveraging new software tools and platforms to better serve the multi-site retail segment. Over his 30-year career in sales and product/strategic marketing management roles, Chapek has focused on bringing new products to market for the PC-based data acquisition, industrial automation and process control-SCADA and intelligent building segments. For more information, visit Emerson.com.