Border Foods, one of the largest Taco Bell franchisees in the nation, had been trying to solve a vexing problem in their restaurants for years. Extreme heat imbalances in the kitchen led to a very hot working environment for employees in some areas, while other areas were sub-cooled. Cooks working the taco line in the summer took regular breaks in the walk-in cooler for relief. For Border Foods, employee retention, training and productivity were key business drivers. In addition, the new bright and cheery décor meant lots of windows in the dining area that led to solar gain challenges that move with the sun throughout the day.
Border Foods tested the 75F Dynamic Airflow Balancing solution at their Taco Bell store in Richfield, MN. 75F installed internet-connected airflow balancing devices to solve the problem in the kitchen and dining areas. By obtaining a live weather feed and collecting empirical data about everything going on inside and outside the building, the 75F cloud-based algorithm was able to rapidly learn and adjust the balance of airflow, so that temperatures became uniform throughout the day. Equipment included 2 Central Control Units, 10 Zone Controllers, and 19 Modulating Dampers that were all installed and commissioned in less than a day.
Within 24 hours, the kitchen staff noticed immediate relief from the heat island in the center of the kitchen. “We have never felt this good,” said store manager Naomi H. Temperatures leveled out between the front and back of the kitchen to create a uniform, comfortable environment. The dining area also leveled out so that morning and evening diners did not have to choose between East and West facing tables. To prove the point, Border Foods authorized a short test whereby the 75F balancing activity was briefly suspended so they could observe what conditions were like with the previous static balancing equipment. Within minutes, the old heat islands shot up in the kitchen and the imbalance rose 10 degrees before the test was concluded.
The below analytics dashboard provides an example of how we have been able to keep guests comfortable and save energy. The graph showcases the temperature drifts in an area consisting of 6 zones, from December 22-24. The lines that display average desired temperature and average current temperature are practically indistinguishable. Not only that, during unoccupied times the system was automatically set to temperatures that would drive energy savings. Without the 75F system, the restaurant would have been commissioned to respond to the “typical” Minnesota Winter, warming up the building whether or not the area was occupied. With the 75F solution, the system was able to take weather forecasts and proactively commission the building appropriately. Since installation, both staff and guests have enjoyed consistent comfort throughout the building.
If you are interested in learning more on how we can increase your restaurant's bottom line, call Patrick Mulroy at 952-239-8603.