With the effects of climate change beginning to become much starker, how can food retailers use IoT to help prepare for the heatwaves of the future while being energy and cost efficient?
The UK recently experienced its hottest day on record, with the highest temperatures ever recorded. Continental Europe, too, is facing extreme heat, with many countries suffering weeks of temperatures well over 40 degrees. Food retailers, in particular, have been feeling the heat, with refrigeration units and HVAC systems working extra hard to keep food safe and customers cool. With the effects of climate change beginning to become much starker, the reality is that retailers must be prepared to face extreme weather more frequently.
The very core of a food retailer’s business is to keep produce safe, fresh, and available. In order do this, refrigeration devices must work – and work efficiently – even during extreme heat events. Ensuring the health and optimal performance of refrigeration assets is key. Over-cooling to combat external heat or machines that break down in high temperatures is far from ideal and causes excess energy consumption, a loss of stock and sales, and puts a big strain on maintenance teams. As the cost of energy rises and the drive for sustainability continues, retailers should be turning to digitalisation to ensure their machines are working smarter, not harder, and to build resilience in the face of more extreme heat in the future.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is being used by food retailers globally to monitor and manage critical machine health and performance and could be leveraged even further to help build resilient and robust strategies for the industry. So, how can food retailers use IoT to help prepare for the heatwaves of the future while being energy and cost efficient?
Advanced IoT solutions, such as IMS Evolve’s, enable large amounts of raw data from machines to be collected, monitored, and managed. The software gathers and understands everything from health and performance to historic maintenance data, which can then be further contextualised with third-party data, such as weather reports. By using these insights and leveraging machine-learning capabilities, action is automatically taken by the solution to ensure assets are fully optimised and working efficiently. Importantly, these changes are made in real-time without the need for human intervention, meaning huge refrigeration estates can be effectively managed while a food retailer’s time is freed up to focus on other business areas.
This effective management of refrigeration assets has been proven to safeguard stock, optimise energy consumption and enable a 99.98% availability of assets – even in the warmest of months. Complete visibility and enhanced control is critical when it comes to establishing resilience through the ever-changing climate.
There is also an important maintenance benefit to using IoT to support operations during a heatwave. Excessive heat, or even extreme cold, can have a significant impact on operations, and machines often have to work harder in these sorts of conditions and are therefore more susceptible to faults. IoT solutions use advanced monitoring capabilities to identify issues in real-time. Automatic alerts are triggered when performance anomalies are detected, and maintenance teams automatically called out when necessary. By enabling real-time intervention and identification of the root cause of errors, corrections are made before stock is lost or trade is disrupted. By sorting out quick fixes, these solutions can also prevent the need to replace unfixable hardware or pay for more costly repairs.
Through these enhanced maintenance regimes, IMS has delivered a reduction in stock loss from machine failure by 49%, and a reduction in reactive maintenance calls by 40%.
Crucially, this doesn’t have to be expensive. Thanks to controls agnostic solutions that can integrate with any machine, regardless of age or manufacturer, such as those offered by IMS Evolve, food retailers can digitally upgrade existing hardware without the need for huge upfront costs and time-consuming, disruptive machine upgrades.
Get in touch with us today to find out more about how our controls agnostic solution could prevent you sweating about coping in the next heatwave.