Five Keys to Success for Convenience Stores Using Control Systems
I’ve recently written about savings opportunities and the benefits of control systems for convenience stores. To follow up on these previous posts, I’ve included my thoughts below on three features to look for in state of the art systems and the five keys to success for convenience store controls.
In creating our new small format control system, ecoSYS Site Supervisor, we learned more about the way people interact with the product, which ultimately changed our design techniques from engineering-centered to human-centered design. We spent a lot of time talking to people who actually use the product to better understand their interaction to create a system that works for them. This insight helped me shape my views around a state of the art control system.
What does a state of the art control systems look like? The three key features you want to look for are:
- User interface: Ideally, the user interface is web-based, allowing facility managers the ability to view the technology anywhere, including on mobile devices. Customizable user interfaces and role-based user management give the person accessing the system a better user experience.
- Alarm flexibility: Remote alarm notifications, through SMS and email, can signal a problem when a facility manager is offsite. Smart categorization for alarms is also beneficial, allowing the user to customize the alarms with names used by the organization.
- Enterprise management: A web-based or server-based system provides the ability to capture data from all stores, which can be analyzed for operational performance. You can also view and control the systems in all stores across an enterprise.
Once you’ve identified the need for a control system within your enterprise, and you’re ready to implement controls, successful engagement with the system is even more important. Below are my five keys to success for convenience stores using facility controls:
- Think through who needs to interact with the system: Who would you like to have access to the control system – store personnel, on-site technicians, or maintenance and energy managers? Think about this first before deciding if access will be available for everyone.
- Standardize the system configurations: Make configurations for HVAC and lighting schedules, refrigeration control settings and additional monitoring points as similar as possible throughout all stores. There will always be some differences to account for, but standardization across an enterprise is helpful for everyone to understand the system capabilities and their actions.
- Determine how you want to handle alarms: It’s important to plan the way alarms will be managed before startup. Determine whether you will avoid nuisance alarms. Review thresholds and critical vs. noncritical alarms. Think through alarm notifications, schedules for off hours vs. peak hours, and the differences between HVAC and refrigeration alarms.
- Insure all data is used appropriately: Analyze the information collected through the system to identify problem areas. Alarms and other relevant data can be used to target maintenance and equipment replacement.
- Place a high importance on training: Do not underestimate the need for a thorough, simple training program for all people who will interact with the system. Set up training before the systems are installed, and schedule ongoing training as needed.
What have you found to be most successful? Please share your experience in the comments below.
Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions
Emerson Climate Technologies