Opinion: Why are we still doing the same old things?

Flowrite’s CoolerResponse system monitors walk-in refrigeration equipment in real-time.

Tod Harrison, CEO of refrigeration and air conditioning servicing specialist Flowrite Services, believes the catering equipment industry should make full use of remote monitoring technology to improve both performance and margins:

In my opinion the catering equipment industry has been slow to embrace the new technologies which are now on offer. The development of the ‘internet of things’ gives complete connectivity between all equipment and associated infrastructures and is something that businesses need to embrace.

Our industry is well developed in its management of KPIs and performance levels and our customers are now demanding higher levels than ever. The question must be asked – how do we as service providers comply with the increased pressure of service levels and diminishing margins?

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The only clear way to improve is to utilise technology to deliver our core services in a more effective method. Through this, we can give our customers complete visibility of the service delivery on a dynamic real-time level. In addition, we can produce cost savings if these technologies are utilised correctly on service delivery and ongoing energy costs. In response to these industry demands, Flowrite has developed CoolerResponse technology system to provide a remote monitoring system to many of our customers’ appliances.

This is a web-based monitoring solution devised primarily for cellar cooling, walk-in freezers and walk-in refrigerators; however it has the capability to monitor any equipment which has an alarm output on a premise.

This means CoolerResponse can also be used to monitor additional items such as: statutory food safety checks to HCCAP standards; dishwasher cycles; water inlet temperature; energy consumption of specific equipment or even a complete premises. Thus giving a complete visibility of these items of equipment to our customers.

The smart hubs communicate with each other to help gain valuable insight into customers’ behaviour faster and more reliably than previously possible. It also allows us to develop what is a traditionally reactive approach to our service provision into a proactive one. This enables us to recognise and address common behavioural issues early on, such as equipment doors habitually left open, and the ongoing issues these create.

Real-time performance monitoring enables us to make informed improvements to our service processes we have developed for scheduling and customer support; it also can be used to help manufacturers improve their product or service offerings. The data is based on real-time information about actual performance, which means it can inform vital future product improvements in the quality and design process.

Due to the increased levels of connectivity CoolerResponse makes available to us, we can offer our customers: remote diagnostics and repair of their equipment; proactively address maintenance issues before they lead to costly downtime; and improve first-time fix rates by ensuring engineers arrive with the right diagnostic information, tools and replacement parts.

The future of service delivery and the industry in general has to be a more collaborative technology-led solution, as the current contractual and delivery models in my opinion are not sustainable. This issue has been highlighted of late by the number of companies that have failed due the pressures of a service sector in which we are still doing the same things we did 20 years ago. Flowrite’s aim is to equip our engineers with what they need to be a service expert; this means real-time data based on actual conditions, thus ensuring the resolution they offer is a quick, informed and effective solution.

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