This blog summarizes an article from ACR News, entitled “Advances in Facility Controls Keeps Food Fresher, Consumers Safe and Comfortable.” Click here to read the article in its entirety (pg 42).
We’ve noted that technology continues to evolve and expand its role in the commercial refrigeration market. In the food retail and foodservice sectors, this is inherently true for facility controls. Due to an ever-expanding network of shopping and dining options available to consumers, stores have struggled to determine how they can distinguish themselves from the pack and attract customers for not just one visit, but recurring visits.
This struggle has shifted stores toward a concept called experiential retail, a mix of traditional shopping with entertainment features that provide consumers with a more engaging and unique experience. Offering an inviting, comfortable and safe environment is now just as essential as maintaining productivity and profitability, meaning advanced facility management and supervisory controls are necessary tools for any retailer who wants to stay relevant in the minds of consumers.
Formerly, facility controls were primarily used for energy management. While that is still incredibly beneficial (even the slightest energy reduction can greatly improve a supermarket’s profit margins), modern facility controls can be used for much more to help diversify business without risking food safety or quality.
For example, an emerging theme in the modern supermarket is the availability of freshly prepared foods and full meals to entice customers, bringing food safety even higher on the priority list. The latest control technologies implement the power of internet of things (IoT) connectivity, granting managers greater control and real-time monitoring of their entire facility, which decreases risk.
While energy efficiency and food safety are standard priorities for any retailer, consumer comfort and engagement factor greatly into experiential retail. Modern facility controls allow operators to manage the more aesthetic factors of their stores, helping to create more comfortable experiences for customers. Air quality controls allow for the control of fresh and recirculated air to maximize comfort levels, while lighting controls allow for more ambience in different areas of the store.
Modern facility controls offer behind-the-scenes benefits that allow managers to mine data from their stores, while smart alarms allow for quick action on faults and provide high-level explanations for future prevention. Comparing this data with historic records allows both facility managers to optimize store performances and enterprise managers to determine which stores are operating well and which have room for improvement. All a facility manager needs are a phone, tablet or laptop, and a Wi-Fi connection to access these operational insights.
As consumer wants and needs continue to become more complex, it is necessary for food retailers to optimize their stores to remain profitable from a business perspective and desirable from a consumer perspective. Modern facility controls are one of the best ways to leverage the power of data and IoT control to maintain a competitive edge.