THE FOOD RETAIL BUSINESS IS UNLIKE ANY OTHER. In some ways, it is better: while other etail businesses have to wait for their customers to wear out
their shoes or styles to change before
they will step foot in a store, grocery
store customers are customers for life,
showing up week after week, constantly
refilling their baskets.
Despite a neighborhood’s inherent
need of grocery stores, owners of food
retail businesses face unique challenges.
The industry is very crowded, highly
competitive and simply maintaining a
profit is often an uphill battle.
There are two ways
to increase profit in any
business: increase sales,
But with lower costs so often comes
lower quality. It is a bit of conundrum
really; that is unless the cost saving
efforts actually increase operational efficiency and bear no ill effect whatsoever
on quality or the customer experience.
In food retail, profit margins are typi-
cally very narrow. On top of obvious
expenses such as supplier payments, rent
and employee salaries, there is a myriad
of other expenses that are seldom exam-
ined and even more seldom controlled.
For example, a typical food retail chain
incurs more than $500K annually in operational expenses related to energy, maintenance and food loss. Refrigeration systems and associated issues make up the
lion’s share of that burden. Far from a
set-it-and-forget-it asset, a properly functioning refrigeration system requires
vigilance against a host of potential hindrances, including: low coolant levels,
over-cycling on and off of compressors,
colder than necessary default settings,
under-attended maintenance schedules
and over-attended maintenance schedules, etc.
With smart energy management, you
can widen your margins by overcoming
the energy and operational pressures
that have always plagued food retailers.
These pressures are not the unavoidable
results of technological limitations, but
of inefficiencies stemming from a lack of
operational insight into the health and
performance of critical machine assets.
Your machines can and should work better; you just need visibility into the performance of your operation’s critical assets.
Years ago, most businesses relied on a
reactive maintenance model. If the air
conditioning broke down or a refrig-
erator stopped cooling, they would
be fixed. Of course, by the time they
were fixed the company would have
already lost out. The move to predictive
maintenance was only natural, with com-
panies saving on repair costs by trying
to predict system failure before it had a
chance to happen.
Today, we are seeing another shift.
Prescriptive maintenance is like preventative maintenance, but with intelligence. Just imagine a small sensor
placed on every circuit in your store
that feeds a critical asset. By measuring a baseline electrical signature, the
subject’s operational state and general
health can be deduced in real time. If
that signature deviates from manufacturer specifications, or even machine-specific historical benchmarks, the relevant manager will be informed of the
According to Energy Star, the average
commercial building wastes 30 percent
of the energy it pays for. With refrigeration and lighting making up more than
half of the energy used by food retailers,
there is plenty of room for savings.
Every dollar saved through a smart
energy management system can be
compared to a sales increase of $59. You
know exactly how much work is involved
in selling $59 worth of product, and that
is a far cry from the simple installation of
smart energy sensors that will find these
savings for you.
Maybe your business is suffering from
off-hours electricity consumption, or
from refrigeration units that are prone
to breaking down or that allow the
temperature to bounce back and forth.
Wherever your waste is, a smart energy
management solution can find it.
A NEW DIMENSION IN FOOD RETAIL
With smart energy management, food retailers can widen margins by overcoming energy and operational pressures.
By Jon Rabinowitz
Jon Rabinowitz is head of
marketing at Panoramic Power.