The keys to protecting electronic equipment in a restaurant

As quick service restaurants face labor and supply chain shortages resulting from the pandemic, on-site technology solutions have taken on added importance to preserve business continuity and ensure a customer experience. transparent. Therefore, the consistent performance of POS systems, ordering kiosks, digital menu boards, refrigeration temperature monitors, kitchen printers, security cameras and countless other connected electrical equipment is essential. to the success of the business. Although people and products are necessary to operate, quick service restaurants that lack the ability to maintain inventory at required temperatures, fulfill orders in an organized and timely manner, and receive and process payments in a digitally optimized way are doomed to failure in today’s fast pace. rhythmic environment.

Unlike staffing or supply issues that are subject to external factors, maintaining the productive performance of on-site equipment is something that quick service restaurants can manage almost entirely on their own. In doing so is essential to maintaining the advantages of convenience and on-site availability that the proliferation of delivery restaurants and ghost kitchens have highlighted over the past two years.

Today, many fast food giants are progressing, improving and evolving by upgrading their equipment. Domino’s is testing new point-of-sale (POS) systems as an extension of CEO Ritch Allison’s search for innovative technologies that will allow them to “operate more efficiently, with fewer labor hours per unit of sale”. Other mega-chains like McDonalds are improve their kiosks for wider access, faster order times and easier customization. Digital menu boards and pro-AV solutions in general are another area of ​​growth, as the search for AVIXA projects that the global hospitality industry will spend nearly $9 billion on these technologies in 2021. Back-end automation software is another example of proliferating equipment improvements.

These approaches are ambitious and creative, but in this attempt to leave no stone unturned on the technological level, many fast foods have overlooked a common concern affecting every electrical equipment they address: the electrical environment. Taking urgent steps to condition the electrical environment before installing expensive and sensitive new technology solutions is a prudent preventative measure to stabilize equipment performance, extend life cycles, reduce downtime, minimize operating and maintenance costs and manage risk.

A quick service restaurant Power environment and its potential problems

The electrical environment includes not only the quality of power coming from the network and flowing through electronic equipment in a given space, but also how that quality varies and fluctuates, and the extent to which the connected equipment itself affects food quality. The power environments of fast foods are complex, noisy and volatile. This results in equipment facing day-to-day variability in the power needed to keep the service running. Inconsistent power, or dirty power, leads to inconsistent performance, and while many in the industry believe that power availability equates to power quality, it fundamentally does not.

In fact, it is when the power is “on” that connected systems can be most vulnerable. Experts believe that a large majority of electrical disturbances affecting the integrity of electrical power flowing through electrical equipment originate from the electrical environment itself rather than external forces such as dramatic blackouts. accompanied by inclement weather. Such incidents that can cause visible disturbances such as power outages are rare. In contrast, spikes, normal mode noise and common mode noise are present in varying degrees almost all the time due to the fact that any equipment, device or machine that consumes electricity creates electrical noise in the electrical environment . This means point-of-sale systems, refrigeration units, microwaves, HVAC systems, audio-visual products such as digital menu boards or other digital displays, and even overhead lighting can cause electrical disturbances. These continuous jumps, sags and bulges add up over time and can create seemingly abnormal errors that lead to costly and infuriating “no problems found” service calls. In an industry where time is money, these issues can erode fast food‘ profits due to the costs of replacement components, maintenance of additional equipment and especially downtime. In other words, dirty power translates directly into lost revenue.

Power affects every aspect of life in a quick service restaurant. A restaurant with a locked POS system cannot properly process payments or place orders. Losing power to refrigeration units can lead to huge amounts of wasted inventory and menu shortages down the line. Unable to bill completed orders, fulfill existing orders, or accept new orders, quick service restaurants must cease operations until the source of the problem is resolved. If this problem is power, the nightmare may repeat itself. Those digital menu boards mentioned earlier? While SeeLevel HX believes that everyone can save a fast food over $27,000 per location, issues related to the energy environment can reduce these savings throughout the operation. Of how many? Qquick service restaurants managers and franchisees can’t afford to sit down and learn.

Protect technology investments by protecting power

A key solution to maintaining uptime and protecting electronic equipment is a power quality management system that will filter and condition the electricity flowing from the grid to each connected device, ensuring clean and consistent performance. Even the most meticulously designed and carefully calibrated electronic equipment is inevitably impacted by what is put into it. So, in this regard, a power protection solution works the same way a fuel filter protects a car engine from impurities.

What should fast food property managers be aware of? The three key components that ensure a strong power quality system are a surge suppressor, a noise filter, and a low impedance isolation transformer. The majority of commercial solutions available today deploy a surge suppressor, a noise filter, or both. The low impedance isolation transformer is often overlooked, although it actually plays the most important role. This specialized feature acts to isolate the powered instrument from the power source and restores the neutral-earth bond without opposing or disturbing the current path, keeping unwanted noise out without negatively affecting the flow of power. energy. This ensures that only clean, reliable power is constantly flowing to and through the equipment. The most comprehensive solutions for quick-service restaurants include each of these features and function as stand-alone local power conditioners for an entire site. The best place to get information on these types of products would be through a professional power quality consultant or equipment dealer.

Labor and supply chain shortages, as well as the emergence in the pandemic era of concepts such as contactless payment, on-the-go dining and automated on-site experiences, have made the increasingly digital quick service restaurant experience for customers and employees. . Most of the digital infrastructure supporting these proliferating products and policies runs on electricity, which means it is vulnerable to power-related outages. These failures can undermine a quick service restaurant’s efforts to provide a positive customer experience, which means they have a direct impact on revenue and reputation. With the pandemic already squeezing QSR margins, any additional negative impact from food-related equipment issues is something QSRs absolutely cannot afford. Introducing comprehensive power conditioning is the best way to proactively mitigate power-related risks so that equipment continues to operate, revenues remain healthy and customers return.

Peagler chip, AMETEK Powervar POS Segment Sales Manager, has 14 years of experience providing power quality solutions to the POS industry. He also has over 30 years of technical sales experience. Connect with him on https://www.linkedin.com/in/chip-peagler-a664535/.

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