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Posts from the ‘Supermarkets’ Category

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.

Retail and Foodservice 2025: The Future for Customers, Operators and Facilities

Ed_McKiernan Ed McKiernan | President, Emerson Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Food retail and food service environments are quickly evolving. As retail stores and restaurants adapt to changing infrastructure and facility requirements, it is important that operators understand where the market is heading and the impact these changes will have on their operations.

To help operators prepare for the future, Emerson commissioned global research firm Euromonitor International to identify trends that will shape the grocery retail and chained foodservice markets through 2025, and determine what impact these developments will have on retail store and restaurant design and infrastructure.

Euromonitor International is the world’s leading independent provider of strategic market research. With more than 40 years experience, the firm has offices around the world, analysts in over 100 countries and market research on every key trend and driver.

The research firm identified five megatrends that will have the strongest impact on retail and restaurant operations and facilities management over the next eight years:

  1. Digital Shoppers
  2. Focus on Convenience
  3. New Retail Formats
  4. Experiential Retail
  5. Omni-Channel Proficiency

These trends were shared at the Emerson E360 Annual Conference and on a global webcast. Over the next few posts, we will also take a closer look at each one of these trends, beginning with the first one.

Trend: Digital Shoppers

Consumers are becoming more connected, and expecting a connected experience when they interact with brands or purchase products. Currently, 3 in 4 U.S. households own a smartphone, and 47 percent of digital purchases in the United States are made through mobile devices. As the wireless infrastructure strengthens, the Internet becomes omnipresent and the prices of devices come down, these numbers will continue to grow.

We are already seeing a shift with many retailers moving toward mobile engagement with consumers within the store to create a better shopping experience and a stronger customer relationship. Also, more retailers in the U.S. are offering mobile order and pay capabilities to simplify transactions. Some retailers are even going beyond mobile and offering conversational commerce, where for instance, a virtual personal assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa can deliver your item within a short period of time.

So, what should retail and foodservice organizations do in terms of facility management and operations to stay ahead of this trend and customer expectations?

  • Facilities – Overhaul store layout (parking, checkout, dining area, etc.) to drive traffic and attract new trip types and consumers.
  • Supply Chain – Align online and physical inventory and offer real-time tracking of sources and orders to encourage repeat consideration and engage and inform customers.
  • e-Commerce – Implement digital order and payment platforms and offer a personalized, seamless experience to lower costs, reduce errors and increase customer satisfaction.
  • Human Resources – Make sure you have the training that focuses on the right skillsets and staff appropriately based on the different service models to improve customer experience and create stronger brand loyalty.
  • Customer Experience – Train customers for new protocols and offer a streamlined experience to minimize disruptions and serve more customers, faster.

Be sure to join us for our next post, which will take a look at the second megatrend: Focus on Convenience.

Advances in Supermarket HVAC Equipment

I was recently featured in an article on supermarket HVAC for the June issue of Progressive Grocer. Below are some key takeaways.

 According to Energy Star, food retailers spend more than $4 per square foot annually on energy, with a large portion for HVACR systems. This Progressive Grocer article addresses how supermarket HVAC equipment is becoming more sophisticated and efficient, with the ultimate goal of reducing those figures.

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We’ve seen that recent advances in grocery refrigeration have also led to advances in supermarket HVAC systems. For example, doors on refrigerated cases and air management systems are solutions that improve the shopper’s experience and comfort level, as well as help the HVAC system operate at the ideal temperature.

Another item that affects supermarket HVAC is dehumidification. Removing moisture from the air allows retail HVAC and refrigeration systems to work better, while also improving shopper comfort. For example, grocers in humid climates often deal with refrigeration systems that perspire, which can lead to the pooling of water on floors and cause safety risks for customers who may slip or fall. Reducing humidity can alleviate that problem.

And, a third advancement is the integration of all retail facility systems. Unlike a commercial building where HVAC systems are separate and distinct from lighting, the HVAC, refrigeration and lighting systems in a grocery store can be integrated through a facility management system for improved control and visibility across all equipment. If a retailer is only monitoring the temperatures in food cases, they are missing out on the potential efficiency and gains from also monitoring their HVAC systems.

To read more about how supermarket HVAC equipment is becoming more sophisticated and efficient, read the full article on pages 188-189 of the June 2016 issue of Progressive Grocer.

 For more than 20 years, Emerson Retail Solutions has been helping businesses like yours safeguard food, reduce energy consumption, protect the environment and optimize business results. To learn more about our technology solutions and services for retailers, visit our website.

Paul Hepperla
Director, New Solutions Development & Enterprise Product Management
Emerson Climate Technologies

 

Equipment Investments for Increased Customer Engagement

I was recently featured in an article for the Grocery Headquarters 2016 Equipment, Design and Operations Handbook. Below are some highlights around in-store equipment investments.

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We know that the demands of today’s consumers are increasing while their time is decreasing. Food retailers are addressing this trend by focusing their efforts on fresh, specialty and convenient offerings – which has prompted a need to think about the impact on store-level equipment.

In this Grocery Headquarters article, the editor discusses the criticality of the “fourth wall of retailing” – a term coined by the theater industry about the separation between the audience and stage. Grocers are aiming to break down the wall with consumers by focusing on their senses. They want to create “a more interactive, community-centric shopping experience.”

More supermarket consumer engagement is happening in perimeter departments, especially where fresh foods are on display. Safe, efficient equipment is needed and downtime is not an option.

We’ve seen that when retailers use a “cost-focused” mindset to procure equipment at lower prices, it may not last. Grocers should use a lifecycle approach in reviewing equipment to retain its value and achieve better operating levels. With attention on maintenance and upkeep, equipment performance will be extended and staff training costs can be reduced.

To read more about how grocers are investing in equipment and lighting to better engage with shoppers, read the full article here (subscription required).

 For more than 20 years, Emerson Retail Solutions has been helping businesses like yours safeguard food, reduce energy consumption, protect the environment and optimize business results. To learn more about our technology solutions and services for retailers, visit our website.

Paul Hepperla
Director, New Solutions Development & Enterprise Product Management
Emerson Climate Technologies

 

Make the Upgrade to Digital

The use of a digital compressor as the lead compressor in a fixed capacity refrigeration rack is becoming a preferred method for supermarkets seeking to meet varying refrigeration loads. With the ability to modulate capacity from 10 to 100 percent, digital compressors are now being written into the design specifications of many big-box retailers.

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Digital Upgrade Kit for Traditional Rack Systems

This option is also available as an upgrade to existing refrigeration systems that are based on traditional parallel rack architectures. Many technicians are being called upon to retrofit these systems with a digital compressor upgrade kit. Although there are some newer technologies and electronic controls involved with the transition, the upgrade process is relatively straightforward:

  • Identify the compressor
  • Verify the system controller
  • Choose the correct upgrade model
  • Select the digital controller
  • Install upgrade kit

Digital Technology Yields Indisputable Results

A single digital compressor with 10 to 100 percent capacity modulation enables continuous variable unloading that delivers immediate and significant benefits. While results vary per application, operators can expect improvements in three major categories:

  • Reduced compressor cycling — the average compressor cycling is reduced up to 50 percent, but some scenarios have seen cycle counts go from 900 starts per day to 12 starts across a four-day span
  • Improved temperature control — digital modulation is capable of temperature control within +/- 1 °F
  • Tighter suction pressure control — operating suction pressure ranges are significantly reduced, moving from double-digit suction pressures (psig) to single-digit levels

These results make an open and shut case for a digital compressor upgrade. As awareness of this option becomes more well-known, many supermarket operators will opt for capacity modulation using this relatively simple upgrade to their existing rack systems.

Other Methods of Capacity Modulation

The challenge of modulating capacity in centralized rack refrigeration systems is not a new one, and system designers have made several attempts to solve the problem. Though none are as effective as digital capacity modulation, technicians still frequently encounter uneven rack and variable speed drives.

One digital compressor per suction group can provide precise capacity modulation from 10 to 100 percent. The results are up to 50 percent reduction in compressor cycling, improved equipment reliability and precise temperature control.

This blog is a summary of the article Make the Upgrade to Digital from our recent edition of E360 Outlook. Click here to learn more about the benefits of upgrading to digital compressors.

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