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Why do Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) need building automation solutions?

Garima Bharadwaj
Garima Bharadwaj

20th April 2023

Introduction

Even in a world where technology is rapidly expanding, most consumers are generally unaware of workplace automation. Similarly, building automation is frequently prominent and largely customer-facing in the retail and quick-service restaurant (QSR) industries. The objectives of this type of building automation, which come in a number of factors like touch screen kiosks, self-checkout terminals, and mobile apps, all work to accomplish similar goals: to improve the customer experience, meet consumer demand, and increase office productivity. On that note, we will further discuss why QSR requires building automation solutions in this blog.

What are Quick Service Restaurants?

Quick service restaurant, often known as QSR is an eatery that serves certain cuisine items that need little to no preparation and is delivered quickly. QSRs typically specialize in fast food items over a small menu because they can be prepared with the least amount of variance in the least amount of time. The foundation of a quick-service restaurant is the process of preparation and the use of technology. QSR restaurants are renowned for having standardized, flexible, and effective processes that enable them to shorten the lead times needed to complete orders while maintaining the level of quality that consumers expect.

What are Building Automation Systems?

Building automation systems (BAS) are systems created to link and automate specific building functions. One set of controls was used to link together all of the building’s control systems, including the lighting, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), fire, and security systems. The BAS’s intelligence comes from the fact that it monitors the performance of associated systems, assisting in the maintenance of indoor air quality and energy efficiency. With BAS, all of the buildings on a commercial property that you manage can be controlled from a single interface. This makes it easier for your property management team to work more efficiently. The advantages of a functional building automation system are numerous. Here are a few of those advantages: 

  • A comprehensive BAS reduces the chance of human error by controlling many systems (such as ventilation, security, and fire and flood protection) simultaneously. 
  • Different systems’ performance can be tracked via a BAS system. 
  • A building automation system can offer fail-safe features that activate when there are mechanical or electronic faults. This is especially crucial in risky, hazardous workplaces.
  • The energy management feature of the BAS can lower energy use, which in turn lowers operating costs for all of the connected systems. 
  • BAS can lengthen the lifespan of different utilities, so you get more utility for your money and need less maintenance. 
  • A BAS can offer inhabitants a constant level of comfort. Lockouts can be managed by a building automation system, ensuring that equipment doesn’t start up until it is supposed to. 
  • BAS is capable of performing diagnostic tests to track various systems’ temperatures, pressures, flows, etc. 
  • The redundancy that can develop when too much of a building’s automation overlaps is removed by a BAS that is properly integrated.

Some of the systems that BAS regulates include: 

  • HVAC: BAS controls the most energy-efficient HVAC. This is the method via which BAS is most frequently incorporated into a building’s electronic and mechanical systems.
  • Lighting: Based on the actual occupancy, BAS can control the lighting in a space. Additionally, it may control illumination according to daytime versus nighttime hours.
  • Security Systems: When security systems are activated and when they are not can be managed by BAS. They can control keyless entry, remote access, passcodes, and video surveillance.
  • Systems for ventilation and air purification: BAS regulates ventilation and air purification, especially in buildings where these functions are absolutely important and, as such, shouldn’t be subject to human decision-making or management.

Why are Building Automation Technologies necessary for Quick Service Restaurants?

Are customers prepared to forgo any human contact when dining out? Owners and operators of quick-service restaurants may be startled to hear that many patrons across demographic categories are prepared to make this significant change, with one particular segment uttering a resounding “yes!” 

The word of the year right now is automation, and because of innovation in automation, several industries have seen significant growth. In fact, automation is becoming a more alluring alternative for fast-food companies due to the declining cost of machinery and the rising cost of manpower.  

According to QSR magazine, worldwide drive-thru sales were reported to be 46.96% greater than they were the year before, demonstrating consistency in the channel’s growth. As QSR operations grow more and more efficient and straightforward as a result of constantly improving technology, digitalizing ordering, administration, sales, and inventory procedures has emerged as the key to ensuring the satisfaction of both customers and employees. Technology is paving the way for QSRs as it aids in company continuity and scaling up at a time when it is most needed, from quick and easy ordering to increased consumer convenience with mobile apps. Customers are looking for individualized shopping experiences that offer more value and connection as the digital world expands. Brands that stay up are rewarded with loyal customers, higher levels of satisfaction, and a productive workforce.

Technology innovation is a factor that propels QSRs to change continuously. Meal ordering kiosks, food delivery applications, and electronic payments have become more popular on the front end. Similarly, smart building systems like BAS offer QSRs lighting controls, submetering, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), real-time performance monitoring at a low cost. Additionally, it offers a cloud-based data analytics platform that reduces maintenance costs by sending out notifications about concerns, sending out service personnel, and tracking performance to locate and fix any problems. Digital technology promotes a proactive approach to food safety, increases consumer convenience, and improves operational operations.

Key Benefits of using BAS in QSRs

Energy Efficiency

One of the most significant benefits of using a BAS for energy efficiency is the ability to control and monitor the HVAC system. With a BAS, owners can set a schedule for the HVAC system to turn on and off based on the occupancy of the building. This means that the HVAC system will only run when necessary, reducing energy consumption and costs. Additionally, a BAS can automatically adjust the temperature in the building based on occupancy or schedule, further reducing energy consumption when the building is not in use. BAS can also control lighting systems in QSRs. 

This includes automatically turning lights off when they are not needed, reducing energy consumption and costs. By setting up occupancy sensors, the BAS can detect when a room or area is not in use and turn off the lights automatically. Moreover, a BAS can dim lights based on ambient light levels, reducing energy usage and providing a more comfortable environment for customers. The BAS can detect the amount of natural light coming into the building and adjust the artificial lighting accordingly, ensuring that the lighting is always at the optimal level for the customers’ comfort while minimizing energy usage.

Effective HVAC Monitoring

Quick-service restaurants frequently use cutting-edge technology nowadays to improve their operations. However, there is one important factor that has a direct impact on restaurant chains’ bottom lines, and that may be readily addressed through technology but is frequently disregarded. Due to ineffective energy management, the majority of quick-serve restaurants lose hundreds of dollars each month. A quick-service restaurant often uses three to four times as much energy as an office building of comparable size, with HVAC expenditures accounting for as much as 35 percent of their monthly energy costs. Any HVAC system must deal with a tremendous amount of heat generated just from the kitchen.

Due to “leakage,” up to 40% of the energy used by restaurant HVAC systems is lost. This includes heating or cooling an area that is empty as well as improperly regulating setpoints that might force the HVAC to work harder than necessary. This is particularly costly during periods of high demand when energy is the most expensive. An automated energy management system feature of BAS can take control and optimize HVAC energy consumption with the simple installation of a “smart” thermostat and a few strategically positioned sensors, lowering energy expenditures with no upfront investment and instant payback. Also, crucially, the system can spot minor flaws with HVAC equipment and fix them before they worsen.

Equipment Maintenance

Equipment maintenance is critical for QSRs as it ensures that all equipment is working correctly and efficiently, reducing the risk of equipment failure, downtime, and costly repairs. BAS can help automate and streamline equipment maintenance tasks, making it easier for QSRs to keep their equipment in optimal condition. 

Furthermore, BAS can help optimize equipment performance by tracking equipment usage, identifying energy inefficiencies, and suggesting ways to reduce energy consumption. For instance, the system can track how often the HVAC system runs, the temperature setpoints, and the time when the equipment is in use, providing valuable data that can help facility managers adjust the equipment settings to reduce energy consumption and increase equipment lifespan.

Occupancy Tracking 

IoT sensors synced with BAS can detect occupancy within the restaurant, build a heatmap and give notifications to the business manager. This will assist in managing the crowds during peak seasons, queue management, providing customer wait-times, and promoting social distancing for everyone’s safety. In the long run, the same technology can be used for HVAC controls and occupancy-based lighting for effective energy management. Additionally, it aids with  hygienic upkeep, improving services for clients who order food to go, and crucially, it offers feedback for recurring layout adjustments and advertisement placement inside the store.

Real-time Monitoring

Real-time monitoring refers to the delivery of continuously updated information. Real-time monitoring systems are designed to provide immediate feedback on the status of various processes or systems, allowing for quick and informed decision-making. In the context of QSR operations, it refers to the delivery of continuously updated information from various sensors installed throughout the QSR’s building and equipment. The data is then analyzed to identify trends, patterns, and anomalies, which can be used to improve operational efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance the customer experience.

Real-time monitoring allows for the early detection of equipment failures, enabling maintenance teams to quickly identify and resolve issues before they escalate. This reduces equipment downtime, improves operational efficiency, and prevents the loss of revenue due to equipment failure.

Real-time monitoring also helps QSRs identify areas where energy is being wasted and implement measures to reduce consumption. This can include turning off equipment when it is not in use, optimizing heating and cooling systems, and identifying equipment that may need to be replaced with more energy-efficient models.

Data-driven Decision Making

Building automation systems are capable of collecting and analyzing vast amounts of data on various aspects of QSRs. This includes data on energy usage, equipment performance, and customer behavior. The ability to collect and analyze such data enables QSRs to make data-driven decisions to optimize their business operations and increase revenue. For instance, QSRs can use data analytics to optimize staffing levels. This involves analyzing data on customer traffic to determine the busiest times of day and the number of customers served during those times. By utilizing this information, QSRs can adjust staffing levels to match customer demand, ensuring adequate staffing during peak hours while reducing labor costs during slower periods.

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Conclusion

It is really obvious that full automation is a process, therefore it makes sense that many quick-service restaurants are making thorough considerations and extensive pilot initiatives in that direction. Based on their own preferences and company identity, owners will need to decide on the ideal ratio of technology and human engagement. They will likely continue to get accustomed to well-executed automated services by using BAS that are simple to use, quick, and preserve their health and safety because their habits from the past two years seem to be enduring. To effectively profit from IoT, the QSR sector needs to embrace and integrate IT systems and applications more swiftly. In the meantime, digital transformation and cutting-edge technologies are separating average QSRs from outstanding ones because they capitalize on customer experience and provide significant value to brands and operations. The importance of streamlining all operating procedures has increased as a result of the problems posed by a global epidemic and a subsequent scarcity that affected the whole business. Sales, customer support, and employee satisfaction may all rise as a result. Looking to streamline your restaurant and QSR management and increase profits? Look no further than Know Your Building™! Our intelligent energy management solution and asset optimization tools make managing multiple restaurants a breeze. Start analyzing and improving your profits today.


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