IoT and Cloud Computing Meet Restaurant Refrigeration
The Internet of Things (IoT) is uniquely poised to transform the restaurant refrigeration industry worldwide. The ability to connect refrigeration (and other restaurant equipment that is critical to operations) to the public cloud for the purpose of sending and receiving data is at the core of this transformation.
Consumer and B2B hard goods — from refrigerators, motors and pumps to hospital grade respirators and conveyor belts on manufacturing lines — are a treasure trove of underutilized data. To date, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the restaurant refrigeration industry aren’t readily harnessing this data for real-time monitoring, automated decision making and monetization (or business intelligence).
Enter the intersection of IoT and cloud computing and you have the true evolution restaurant refrigeration. What do these key industry trends mean for refrigeration manufacturers and restaurant operators? Below are some important considerations as you begin to transform your business with IoT and get into the cloud.
IoT and Connecting to the Cloud is an Affordable Proposition
Oftentimes, new technology is not quickly integrated immediately into a business. This is because people fear the potential costs and losses associated with new technology as pain points are worked out, costs are reduced, and the product(s) is ready for prime time.
Geoffrey Moore, Managing Director of Geoffrey Moore Consulting and a Venture Partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures, wrote a book called Crossing the Chasm. In it he lays out the technology adoption lifecycle, which is the evolution of any given community’s acceptance of a disruptive innovation and is organized into five categories. The categories include the first group of people to use a new product or the innovators. They are followed by the early adopters, early majority, late majority, and the last group to eventually adopt a product, the laggards.
IoT and the cloud are in the early majority cycle. More and more customers are adopting the technologies and costs have significantly reduced. For example, IoT equipment that includes sensors and a processor gateway can be connected to the cloud for around $20 to $30. The cost of cloud computing is also affordable and in the region of $15 per GB of data sent and stored.
Affordability and ease-of-use is making it much easier to adopt these technologies and begin to transform your restaurant refrigeration business.
Harnessing Data and Analyzing For Business Intelligence has Never Been Easier
You’ve connected your refrigerators, so now what? This is the part that many people have questions about. Once machinery is fitted with sensors and collecting data, what can be done to ensure that the data is driving business intelligence and decision making? Not to worry, high performance tools are already available to analyze and make use of the data you’ve collected and Google BigQuery is a great example of these products.
BigQuery is Google's serverless, highly scalable, low cost, an enterprise data warehouse designed to help you be more productive as it relates to data analysis. With no infrastructure to manage (this is handled by the team at Google), you can focus on analyzing data to find meaningful insights without needing sometimes costly IT Personnel. BigQuery enables you to analyze data by creating a logical data warehouse and makes it easy to securely share insights within your organization and beyond.
Saving Dollars With Predictive Maintenance and Machine Learning is Now a Reality
Predictive maintenance is one of the key value propositions associated with data that is sent from machinery to the cloud. With an events-based alerts engine in place to monitor the data, you define the conditions that trigger an alert, from refrigeration temperature and humidity levels to outright power failures and more. The alert would immediately be sent noting that maintenance may be necessary, which would help avoid food waste and potential closures when equipment fails.
Over time, machine learning supplements human perceived failure conditions and uses pattern recognition to determine potential failures or the need for proactive maintenance. Machine learning harnesses cloud computing and the troves of data collected to spot patterns in equipment that a human wouldn’t notice.
This is where data becomes very powerful and highly valuable in terms of overall cost savings via reduction in manufacturing or systems downtime.
Take the Big Bottom Market, a gourmet deli and marketplace in Sonoma County as an example. Last month Donna Prowse, operating partner and general manager, opened the store to a failed refrigerator housing more than $1000 worth of deli meats and cheeses. “We had to throw everything away and scramble to find more meat and cheese to feed our hungry customers. Having a system that connects to our refrigeration and alerts us when something fails would have saved us money and valuable time.”
Earning Money Through Subscription Services is the New Revenue Stream
As a refrigeration manufacturer, your customers would likely pay a monthly fee to have sensors connected to their machinery, ongoing data collected, and alerts sent when equipment fails or goes offline. Subscription services, never thought of in the world of OEMs, are now becoming a new revenue stream.
Additionally, as more and more data is collected about equipment, ‘big data’ analytics starts to offer other insights. Data analytics has the ability to look more closely and analyze when a failure occurred and the environmental conditions that correlate with failure conditions. For example, an older compressor may click on and off as a result of a start relay problem. The result could be a compressor that bursts and ends up costing hundreds if not thousands of dollars to fix. Data analytics could help determine when and why this happens. Insights from the resulting data can be used to reengineer the product and reduce the incidence of such failures.
It all comes down to this. The simple act of connecting sensors to equipment can revolutionize how your business operates. The time is now to adopt IoT and cloud computing and take advantage of these transformative technologies.