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What Do You Find in a Smart Restaurant?

Jun 22, 2017 12:03:41 PM


There is more than energy savings in smart building controls or building automation. Smart buildings provide proactive solutions, as opposed to reactive energy management systems. Smart restaurant solutions can significantly improve guest comfort, air quality, productivity, employee turnover and profitability.

We're talking about the many additional benefits and back-of-house productivity gains that are enabled through the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing.

Think about the type of data you're collecting and the controls you're using in your restaurant(s) today...

  • Are you able to see building temperature, air quality, pressurization and equipment performance from multiple building zones in real time?
  • Do you have visibility to the data and proactive system actions remotely?

Smart buildings need minimal new hardware installation because almost everything depends on the quality of the software, the power of cloud computing algorithms and the predictive capabilities of the whole package. Issues are identified and corrected before they become problems, which translates to significant maintenance cost savings and prolonged equipment life.

Restaurants are perfect for smart building automation upgrades. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey, the average restaurant consumes about twice much energy as the average office building.

Five Ways Smart Building Automation Can Benefit Your Restaurant

  1. Energy Savings — It really all boils up into energy savings, which coincides with environmental impact. Depending on the energy needs of your restaurant, a smart building solution can save you between 30% and 50% in energy utility costs between more efficient HVAC, lighting, refrigeration and other equipment that can be monitored and/or controlled remotely.

  2. Equipment Sequencing — This is a vital piece of optimizing the performance of your HVAC system. Any system should operate in accordance with the owner's project requirements (OPR), which detail use of the facility, occupancy, energy performance, environmental performance, thermal comfort, indoor air quality, and quality of materials and equipment. Appropriate equipment sequencing optimizes the OPR through the smart building automation system (BAS).

    For example, in a constant air volume (CAV) system, the outside air damper is controlled by an economizer on the rooftop unit (RTU) based on the outside air temperature and quality, the individual zone heating and cooling needs, and the comfort control setpoints of each zone. A hot water valve, a chilled water valve and fans are each activated at different points in the sequence to optimally balance a variety of setpoints.

    In restaurants, pressurization is often a significant factor in indoor air quality and comfort. Air pressure imbalances can push unwanted odors or smoke into the dining area or make doors difficult to open. 

    Differential pressure sensing, as a solution, can communicate to an RTU economizer to modulate the outside air damper and prevent damage to fans whether or not you have a dedicated makeup air (MUA) unit.

  3. Comfort — Guests are comfortable when thermal comfort control is optimized through proactive management. Cloud computing data points collected via wireless sensors throughout your restaurant makes your entire BAS predictive. It can incorporate the local weather forecast, the effect of solar gain as sunlight exposure changes throughout the day and varied optimal thermal comfort preferences in any number of zones in your restaurant. 

    When employees are comfortable, you get higher productivity, improved customer service and less employee turnover, according to a 2014 Harvard School of Public Health study on indoor air quality.

  4. Fresh Air — Customers and employees benefit from high indoor air quality. Customers will return again and again to restaurants in which thermal comfort and indoor air quality are noticeably superior. A smart BAS measures and communicates in real time CO2, CO, NO2, particulate matter, humidity, air pressure and air temperature levels to your RTU economizers and delivers airflow and outside air optimization efficiently to each zone of your restaurant.

  5. Custom Solutions — Two examples of the many customizations a smart BAS will allow:
    1. A temperature sensor can be placed in the plenum space where water lines feed a soda machine. If the plenum space cools to a point that breaches the system set point, heated air can be applied to the water lines to ensure they don't freeze, saving your restaurant time and money.

      The concern of frozen water lines is alleviated. Your staff is relieved of the task of having to remove ceiling tiles to warm the plenum space.

    2. Freezer and cooler (both walk-in and reach-in) temperatures can be monitored and controlled wirelessly and remotely with no need for drilling or wires. Additionally, meat temperatures in ovens can be similarly monitored.

      Your staff is relieved of monitoring temperatures manually and recording them by hand every hour.

Consider the Future of Your Restaurant

Smart restaurants immediately improve guest comfort, air quality, productivity and employee turnover rates. Imagine never needing to manually adjust the thermostat or the lights again. Imagine your HVAC system managing itself and alerting you of issues before problems surprise you. Word-of-mouth among customers and within the service industry travels quickly, and your restaurant's top and bottom lines will be the beneficiaries.


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