March 21, 2022
Running a successful restaurant means making a million decisions daily. Ordering, staffing, menu planning, the list can seem never-ending. What if I told you that simple changes to your HVAC system could not only make it easier to operate your building’s energy systems, but could also save money?
Automating heating and cooling using remote connectivity provides a host of benefits. Adding remote connectivity into your restaurant gives facility managers an easy way to monitor and control everything from building temperature and humidity, to programming optimal indoor and outdoor lighting, to ensuring your freezer door hasn’t accidentally been left open. And the savings can be profound. Studies show that energy management systems (EMS) provide a comprehensive solution that can result in the reduction of energy bills of up to 41% in standalone retail.
Given the resounding advantages, it’s common for owners to think switching to a remotely connected system requires cumbersome and costly new equipment. In reality, new equipment requirements are minimal. According to Greg DuChane, Restaurant Vertical Leader for Trane, “Many small-to medium-sized buildings can see a return on investment within 18 months or less.”
When you don’t have a comprehensive view of your heating and cooling equipment, any minor issue can result in a truck roll. At $150-$500 each, this troubleshooting can add up quick. With remote connectivity, an initial diagnosis can often be done by your own team, no matter where they are located and on any device.
For starters, your facility manager can receive automatic alerts if an issue arises. Then, they can remotely assess and diagnose the issue to understand exactly what’s wrong and what steps to take to fix it. If it’s a simple fix that you can repair on your own, you won’t have wasted valuable time and money on an unnecessary truck roll. This means you’re back up and running quicker and you only pay for external help when required.
When operating a restaurant – whether it’s a single standalone building or multiple QSRs – the more you can automate, the more efficient your operations become.
Consider for a moment, a system that is pre-configured to automatically adjust based on daily business needs. In the morning, the lights come on and the heat (or AC in the summer) kicks in as your first employees arrive to start their day. At the start of the lunch and dinner rush, the system automatically adjusts to keep temperature and humidity at optimal levels for ideal customer comfort. Finally, at closing time, you don’t need to rely on an exhausted, part-time employee to remember to turn the lights off and the heat down; the system does it automatically. Meanwhile, your facility manager can set alerts and check controls remotely to make any tweaks to account for real-time changes.
If you’ve ever had a freezer door accidentally left open overnight, you know how simple mistakes can add up to significant unplanned costs. The average restaurant can waste up to 10% of its inventory before it even reaches the customer. Using better inventory monitoring, and ensuring refrigerants are kept at optimal levels, means less spoilage and more money in your pocket.
What’s more, with remote connectivity, mistakes are mitigated by setting alarms to alert the store manager and facility team for anything out of the ordinary. For example, with real-time monitoring, your business protects itself from the following:
If a lightbulb on your business signage goes out, it can deter customers from coming in. Make sure your business is always shining bright by quickly replacing burned-out bulbs.
Improve safety by ensuring that outdoor and parking lot lights are working properly.
Pre-configure temperature setpoints for both the kitchen and dining room to ensure all areas of the restaurant stay within the optimal range.
Real-time monitoring of freezers, refrigerators, and HVACs means you can respond quickly if something is left open or malfunctions.
During the pandemic, an already volatile industry was forced to become even more resilient. Remote connectivity proved an invaluable tool to help restaurant owners be nimble when facing constant, uncontrollable changes.
Remote connectivity provided restaurants the flexibility required to save costs while maintaining service. For example, restaurants could configure different modes to adjust their heating and cooling to quickly adapt to changing government regulations – i.e., Full Capacity, Limited Capacity, and Take-Out Only. This means they weren’t wasting energy and money heating an empty dining room.
Remote connectivity streamlines FDA reporting requirements by automatically capturing and saving a comprehensive record of your operations. You can configure the system to create a track log to capture temperatures within the refrigerator and freezer, as well as any thermal wells on daily, hourly, or half-hour intervals. This log can be easily exported to submit for HACCP reporting.
By creating alerts and putting trackers on cooler doors, you can monitor what’s happening within the restaurant at any given time to help ensure you comply with regulations.
Setting up a remotely connected HVAC system can dramatically improve the efficiency of your restaurant operations. And given the cost savings a smart system helps you achieve; you can quickly recoup setup costs. It’s also possible to recoup upfront costs through various incentive and rebate programs. Utility companies often offer incentives that restaurants can take advantage of to offset costs for installing certain types of HVAC and lighting controls. In addition, there are programs that require verification of the reduction in utility usage or simply reward restaurants for participating in demand response programs.
Get in touch with us (713-266-3900) to learn what incentives you might quality for, and how you can build remote connectivity into your restaurant to start realizing savings today.
Blog by Trane.com.