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Posts from the ‘Retail Solutions’ Category

An Ounce of Prevention Could Help Save Lives, Reputations and Revenues

Dean Landeche_Blog Dean Landeche | Marketing Cold Chain Leader
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog is a commentary on an April 2018 article published on Science Daily’s website at which evaluated a recent study on the costs of food borne illnesses in restaurants.

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It seems like every month there’s a new story of a high-profile food recall or restaurant shutdown due to food borne illness outbreaks. As if food retailers need to be reminded of the damage these incidents can inflict on a brand, too often we hear of major chains and manufacturers having to close their doors — in part due to food poisoning judgments. Even if these companies do manage to stay in business, the potential for financial, reputation and human costs is significant.

And if those weren’t enough incentives, restaurants also have regulatory drivers for food safety. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), for example, seeks to push for improved traceability throughout the food supply chain.

Foodborne illness outbreaks can certainly be major setbacks for restaurants, but to date, the impacts of these incidents on bottom lines have been difficult to quantify. Many restaurant retailers are not fully aware of the potential financial costs of these incidents. Knowing this information can help them determine how much to invest in appropriate food-safety measures.

Study shows costs are proportionate to the size of the outbreak

A recent study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests that just one outbreak can cost millions in lost revenue, fines, lawsuits, legal fees, insurance premium increases and more.

Based on computer simulations used in the study, a foodborne illness outbreak can have a large impact, regardless of the size of the restaurant or the outbreak. A fast food restaurant could incur anywhere from $4,000 for a single outbreak in which five people get sick to $2.5 million for a single outbreak in which 250 people fall ill (taking into account lost revenue, lawsuits, legal fees and fines).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the annual occurrences of foodborne illness are more common than we may think:

  • Approximately 48 million people get sick
  • 28,000 are hospitalized
  • 3,000 die from food-related illnesses, which are often referred to as food poisoning

Pathogens that caused outbreaks in restaurants from 2010–2015 include listeria, norovirus, hepatitis A, E. coli and salmonella.

Preventative actions are the cure

The question then becomes: What’s causing these pathogens to arise? Often, the leading causes can simply be traced to not adhering to basic food safety best practices: cross-contamination; time and temperature excursions; cleaning; and sanitation.

Of course, Emerson can play an integral role in helping retailers minimize temperature deviations and maintain optimal conditions throughout the supply chain. We know that out-of-tolerance temperatures over prolonged periods of time can contribute to many of the threats posed to food quality. Our capabilities in temperature management, tracking and recording at all stages of food’s journey have become increasingly important for cold chain operators.

Our GO Real-Time temperature trackers for the cargo space provide live monitoring and reporting of perishable product cargo container temperature and location from anywhere in the world. The solution captures and stores data in a cloud-based monitoring portal, then sends alerts and status reports via email or text message to help stakeholders ensure product freshness and safety at every step.

Designed for restaurants and supermarkets, our Cooper-Atkins products and solutions offer temperature management and monitoring products for both spot inspections and fixed locations where food is handled, prepared and stored. These powerful products give people the ability to access food conditions and predict, preempt and control any issues related to quality or safety. These real-time temperature trackers can be accessed anytime, anywhere with a network connection, helping retailers ensure only the freshest and safest products reach customers.

Potential loss outweighs the cost

The Johns Hopkins study reinforces what we already knew: that there is a significant potential for health, human and revenue losses from outbreaks of foodborne illnesses. With today’s advances in digital, connected technologies, operators all across the cold chain have the tools at their disposal to prevent these incidents.

As one of the experts cited in the report, “Paying for and implementing proper infection control measures should be viewed as an investment to avoid these costs, which can top a million dollars.”

Refrigerant Leak Detection and Regulatory Update

JohnWallace_Blog_Image John Wallace | Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Proper refrigerant leak detection is essential for retailers, potentially saving them thousands of dollars annually and helping to meet regulatory requirements. For the full article, click here.

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Refrigerant leaks can cause both economic and environmental disruptions for retailers. Today, the average supermarket has two to four refrigeration racks charged with approximately 3,500 pounds of refrigerant. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) GreenChill research, about 25 percent (875 pounds) of that refrigerant is lost each year due to leaks. At $7 per pound, this loss equates to an annual expense of about $6,100 — more than $600,000 annually over a chain of 100 stores. And that’s just the financial aspect. In the same 100-store example, nearly 70,000 pounds of refrigerant are leaked into the atmosphere.

Introduced in the 1990s to address emissions of ozone-depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerants used in stationary refrigeration and air conditioning units, Section 608 of the Clean Air Act was revised in 2016 to include hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants. This revision also introduced more stringent requirements for repairing leaks in larger appliances as well as new record keeping, reporting and disposal mandates.

Per the 2016 revision to Section 608, the next iteration of these requirements will take effect on January 1, 2019, and include the following changes:

Lower leak thresholds. The new thresholds are 30 percent (from 35 percent) for industrial process refrigeration (IPR), 20 percent (from 35 percent) for commercial refrigeration equipment (CRE), and 10 percent (from 15 percent) for comfort-cooling equipment.

Required inspection and monitoring. Section 608 now requires quarterly/annual leak inspections or the use of automatic, continuous monitoring devices for refrigeration and air conditioning equipment that have exceeded the threshold leak rate.

 New reporting requirements. Owners and operators must maintain hard or electronic copies of reports documenting the full charges of appliances and the types of automatic leak detection systems used. For chronically leaking appliances, owners/operators must also submit reports if their systems contain 50 or more pounds of refrigerant and leak 125 percent or more of their full charge in one calendar year.

 Disposal requirements. Technicians must keep a record of refrigerant recovered during system disposal from systems with charge sizes ranging from 5 to 50 pounds.

With all of these revisions on the horizon, it’s important to note that the EPA takes enforcement very seriously. The consequence of noncompliance can be significant: the agency is authorized to assess fines of $37,500 per day for violations.

We recommend that companies implement effective refrigerant leak detection programs to minimize refrigerant leaks and plan a response strategy in the event of a leak. Direct leak detection technology includes fixed or portable monitors installed on-site, which detect the concentration of refrigerants in the air. These can be set close to the anticipated leak airstream, in enclosed spaces and in areas near the floor where leaked refrigerants collect.

 The renewed regulatory focus on reducing refrigerant leaks has caused retailers to put more emphasis on developing efficient and effective leak detection strategies. Leak detection programs not only allow retailers to stay on top of regulations; they can potentially save costs associated with lost refrigerant, the degradation of refrigerated system performance and food loss.

Understanding Your EMS and Identifying Trends on the Horizon

JohnWallace_Blog_Image John Wallace | Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Squeezing the most efficiency out of your energy management system (EMS) can be a pivotal part of your operation. Many store and franchise operators are only using around 10–20 percent of the overall power of their EMS. Optimizing your systems and getting your “money’s worth” out of your EMS can reduce energy and maintenance costs and potentially lower energy consumption.

Understanding Your EMS and Identifying Trends on the Horizon

To fully understand what an EMS does and how it can benefit you, a helpful comparison can be made by looking at the progression of automotive technologies. For example, today we are accustomed to our cars nearly being able to drive themselves (some can). That evolution began as industry leaders started incorporating electronics into vehicles to benefit drivers — things like an analog braking system that was connected to engine control modules which were connected to traction control systems. Manufacturers are blending these systems together, improving communication and thereby optimizing vehicles.

An EMS, essentially, follows the same sort of ideology, tying together key systems and the architectural layers of your operation. These start with the control layer, where electronics take sensor inputs and determine what actions to take with that information (turning on/off compressors, fans, etc.). Next, the supervisory layer handles things like data logging, bringing the data from different systems together and storing it for you to evaluate and analyze over a given time frame (days, weeks, months, etc.) — and generating alarms for anomalies and other problems.

Finally, the remote layer, or remote system, is a software platform (or something similar) that communicates with your on-site equipment and gathers data that you can view via a remote user interface to see trends in your operations. Obviously, this is key to your ability to manage all this information from a location away from your actual operation.

As your EMS continually collects data, it is important for you to make the most of that data and understand how your EMS can help you identify trends and improve the way your facility operates. Optimizing your EMS grants you visibility into what’s happening at any particular site within your building/enterprise. Average operational expenses for a supermarket are incredibly high, so knowing how to interpret data provided by an EMS allows you to solve your problems quickly and efficiently.

Several trends regarding smart buildings and EMS technology have emerged in recent years, including: building energy management hitting the “cloud,” increased demand for smart building products, the convergence of building communications protocols, and the blurring of the interface between smart buildings and the smart grid. These trends tend to drive innovation in four key areas: user interface and usability, integration, cloud connectivity, and extensibility and apps.

For a more in-depth look at what an EMS can offer your operation and to hear more trends, be sure to watch the full presentation here.

Beyond IoT to Digital Transformation in the Modern Supermarket

Ed_McKiernan Ed McKiernan | President, Cold Chain

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Accelerate America recently published an article about how the Internet of Things helped a New York- based supermarket, Price Chopper, facilitate data acquisition and operate more efficiently. This blog provides additional perspective on that article and the evolution from IoT to true digital transformation.

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It’s nearly impossible to discuss best practices within the supermarket industry without bringing up the subject of the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is a network of electronically connected systems and devices (refrigeration cases, ovens and other facility systems) enabling cross-platform data sharing through embedded electronics, sensors, software and network connectivity.

IoT-connected facility technologies can remotely monitor store equipment which, in turn, provides system data and equipment analysis. This can then be used to generate reports and create an operationally efficient ecosystem of devices and machinery.

Initially, these connected technologies were used to set up operating alerts and alarms that indicated system faults or equipment failure. Then, after more sophisticated sensors and controllers were engineered, the focus shifted to advanced analytics, which allow facility managers to predict system failures and other problems hours or even days in advance. As a result, retailers have improved system reliability and energy efficiencies while preventing costly equipment failures.

Beyond facility and asset management, IoT-based technologies are applied every day throughout the food supply and distribution chain. From the farm through processing, transportation, distribution and — ultimately — retail outlets, a broad range of connected technologies helps extend and ensure food safety. They validate and manage temperature, humidity and other conditions, track transportation time and location, automate record-keeping and improve other handling processes. This sophisticated cold chain management helps maintain fresh food to the point of consumption, reduces food waste, improves food safety, and drives compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and other regulations.

Now, the challenge is to move from the functional benefits of IoT to the true digital transformation of businesses. In this emerging state, businesses rely on IoT as a foundational element for rethinking and reinventing their processes, while also redesigning their physical presences.

Price Chopper, a supermarket chain based in Schenectady, N.Y., is a real-world example of how food retailers are engaging in this transition. An early adopter of IoT solutions, Price Chopper installed electronic expansion valves (EEVs) on its case controllers, then deployed multiple temperature, pressure and valve sensors to gather data on EEVs, defrost, lighting and fans. The data revealed opportunities for energy optimization and provided Price Chopper’s facility managers with performance insights to predictive analytics.

The success of this effort prompted Price Chopper to install sensors in every energy-consuming load in its stores — including refrigeration, lighting, ovens and ventilation systems — and link them to a building control system. The initiative produced a tremendous amount of data, which allowed managers to fully optimize energy efficiency while quickly alerting them of servicing leaks and other malfunctions.

Executive leaders at Price Chopper have indicated that they’re planning to extend their IoT initiatives with the goal of meeting the organization’s other operational objectives.

To learn more about how supermarkets are leveraging the power of IoT, read the full article here on pages 26–27.

As you read the article, think about how foundational IoT can enable a reinvented approach to the grocery environment: transforming consumers’ shopping experiences, building customer loyalty and creating new business opportunities. Can facility and system data be consolidated with and correlated to other information within the retailer’s domain? If so, how could that be used to create new operational insights and profit opportunities? What data can be harvested from food’s long journey to stores, combined with store traffic information, and blended together with consumer preferences or menu trends to attract shoppers more frequently to their favorite retailer?

Those are among the possibilities as we move from foundational IoT to true digital transformation of retail.

Modernizing the Middle of the Store

JohnWallace_Blog_Image John Wallace | Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes an article from our E360 program, entitled Cooling the Middle of the Store to Heat up Sales.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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The perimeter of most grocery chains has always been at the forefront of the customer experience, occupied by shopper-friendly delis, fresh produce and bakeries, among other things. The middle of the store? That’s where you’d find the less sexy necessities like canned goods and other grocery staples.

Emphasizing the perimeter and stockpiling the middle with necessities was a dependable strategy. But times are changing. Case in point: a major food retailer discovered that in recent years, as the middle of the store began to shrink, so did overall revenues, with some major brands seeing as much as 2.8 percent drops per quarter. It needed a way to boost profits in the middle of stores.

The solution was to add new, low-profile refrigerated units to showcase more exciting products and packaging, bringing the pizzazz and flair of the perimeters to the middle of stores. But keeping these units working properly and monitoring their performance in this central location was the real challenge.

The necessity of maintaining consistent temperatures in refrigeration units exposed to ambient air meant stores would have to hook up sensors to monitor and control the temperatures in free-standing cases. However, these sensors required wiring that would need to be encased inside the stores’ walls — which would disrupt customers and cost stores a decent amount of money.

Emerson Retail Solutions presented one client with another option, which required no wiring at all.

Emerson’s Wireless Sensor System allowed the grocery chain to connect temperature probes, product simulators and other refrigeration sensors in critical refrigeration equipment throughout their stores, running around the perimeter and filing into the middle. This system also allowed the chain to collect key data that helped store managers monitor perishables which, in turn, allowed for maximized shelf life, reduced shrinkage and ensured safety.

The wireless module inside the cases transmitted data from the probes, product simulators and other sensors to a remote wireless gateway overhead. That gateway then converts the wireless signals into usable, real-time information, allowing for constant monitoring and data that can be used for supervisory controls. The signal sent from the module is strong and reliable enough to reach up to a 100-foot radius, all while using a minimal amount of energy. Repeaters can boost this signal even more, allowing for reach across the entirety of stores.

The Emerson Wireless Sensor System can, oftentimes, be installed in just 3.5 hours, potentially accumulating a 70 percent savings in installation costs when retrofitting stores, and cutting construction costs on new retail stores by up to 15 percent. Savings continue after installation by allowing the grocery chain to avoid fluctuating temperatures and reduce energy costs with their highly efficient wireless systems.

This particular grocery chain firmly believes that maintaining food quality is their top priority. Recent changes in the Food Safety and Modernization Act establish that it should be every chain’s top priority. Solutions such as the Emerson Wireless Sensor System allow chains to monitor free-standing refrigerated equipment in their stores, ensuring proper merchandise temperatures and giving customers the confidence in the retailer’s ability to consistently provide fresh and nutritious products — regardless of where product is located.

 

 

 

 

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