Can you tell the best restaurant energy management systems from the run-of-the-mill systems? By knowing what to look for and expect, you can see positive returns and real benefits before and after implementation.
Making the decision to deploy a restaurant energy management system should not be an afterthought. Energy costs often make up a restaurant’s overarching expenses, 80 percent comprised of inefficient cooking, holding and storage equipment costs. Consider the ever-growing number of energy management systems on the market. Restaurateurs need to know how to tell the good systems from the bad. Rather than leaving the decision to chance, take these five considerations, inspired by Gus Ezcurra of Snips, when selecting a restaurant energy management system for your establishment
It Needs Both Remote and On-Site Access
Remote and on-site access are basic principles in every modern restaurant energy management system. Think of the lost value in systems that would require you drive to the facility to make a change. Obviously, some changes require you to be physically onsite, like shutting a door on cold-storage that was left ajar or during an emergency. However, modern systems that enable remote monitoring and control of your facility can save both time and headache when issues arise.
Make Sure the System Monitors More Than Your HVAC and Lighting Systems!
Some of the first restaurant energy management systems available were nothing more than computerized clocks that would turn lights on and off. With time, the system gained control over HVAC systems. While HVAC control should be a core focus of the system, reports FastCasual.com, that is only the tip of the iceberg in today’s world of energy management.
Your system should have broad access and interoperability to connect all energy-using points in your restaurant. The connections one expects to see in a restaurant energy management system include fryers, ventilation, temperature sensors (for both ensuring food safety in cold storage and climate controls for consumers and staff), and sensors to identify possible maintenance risks, like damaged or malfunctioning equipment.
Are Analytics Part of the Package?
Ah yes, the benefits of a connected restaurant energy management system center in on a deluge of data that lead to analysis in order to gain actionable insight that allows a building manager or owner to take smart and effective action towards desired outcomes. Imagine having a system in your facility, but you are stuck with figuring what to do with changes in temperature flows. What do you need if you see an HVAC unit is malfunctioning, or worse, how can you tell that a problem exists simply by a change in the unit’s energy use?
This is where analytics come into play. When things go wrong, slight changes in cost and energy use may go unnoticed. Also, how can you turn a table of energy costs into better scheduling and practices in saving energy within a restaurant? Do you hire more people, let some go or ask them to keep the lights off unless it is dark? These questions can be answered when data collected is put before your eyes by an account manager or dashboard, as with ENTOUCH.360.
What Will It Take to Set Up?
Implementation costs are a hurdle for restauranteurs considering an energy management system. The best systems will offer interoperability with your existing systems, and someone should help manage the integration process. Most importantly, you should not experience any disruptions in standard operations at the time of implementation. However, problems identified by the system bring up a final point to consider.
Downtime and Disruptions May Occur
This is the most important thing to remember about restaurant energy management systems. If you have never used one, or if you are upgrading an existing system, the system may identify problem areas that need fixing. While you may want to avoid disruptions, some may be inevitable. However, once fixed, the system should enable predictive, preventative maintenance. In other words, disruptions may be possible soon after implementation to correct existing problems, but with time, disruptions will become outdated.