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Commercial Refrigerators With AI Benefit Food And Beverage Retailers – What You Need To Know

Image on the Due North website with the word AI

There’s a lot of talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) applications in commercial refrigerators.

Commercial refrigerators with advanced technologies are being considered by business owners and operators in the kiosk marketplace, micro markets, pet food retailers, high-end department stores, supermarkets, and convenience stores to improve the customer experience, but also for operational efficiencies, business growth and sales performance.

AI and ML are split into two categories: descriptive analytics and predictive/adaptive analytics with the latter being far more representative of AI and ML. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and users of large commercial refrigerator systems (industrial, superstores, grocers, and the like) have adopted descriptive analytics to a great degree through their control monitoring systems as part of their operations. OEMs and users of small commercial refrigerator systems, such as self-contained commercial fridges and commercial freezers, are still in infancy in that respect.

In terms of true AI and ML adoption and implementation through predictive and adaptive methods and analytics, the entire commercial refrigerator industry is starting to invest in it. They are starting to conduct better and more comprehensive research on actionable insights that come from AI/ML for commercial refrigerators and communicate the benefits to their customers.

Does Minus Forty offer AI commercial refrigerators? Yes, we do.

Minus Forty and QBD Corp already has an Internet of Things (IoT) platform consisting of SmartConnect commercial refrigerators and commercial freezers, gateway hardware, web-based portal for your use with OEM’s backend monitoring and control. Also, for use with Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for Machine-to-Machine communication (M2M), and related software.

Among other features you get from our systems:

  • Full operational monitoring of commercial refrigerator cabinet temperatures
  • Remote commercial refrigerator and commercial freezer locking and unlocking
  • Remote parameters change such set temperature
  • Events logging
  • Alarms logging
  • Notifications via emails and/or Short Messaging Services (SMS), etc…

Our future development efforts are concentrated on predictive analytics such as remaining time before compressor failure and other critical components like remaining operational life.

What are the main benefits of having AI in commercial refrigerators?

There are several benefits to having commercial refrigerators and commercial freezers outfitted with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). Contractors and end users can save on energy, gain longevity of their equipment, and get access to predictive service and maintenance. This intelligence can then be fed to Minus Forty’s design and development teams to consider, evaluate, and enhance product design for customers.

The benefits to you? Owners and end users can expect significant reductions in operating, service, and maintenance costs for their commercial refrigerators. A reduction in downtime, as a result, of AI/ML outputs allows for optimization of operational parameters through preemptive service and maintenance calls. This translates to your commercial refrigerators and commercial freezers living a longer and healthier life – smarter investment for you and better sales.

There’s less time spent on troubleshooting because AI/ML intelligence can provide service and maintenance contractors pinpoint accuracy on failed component(s) or expected to fail ones.

Service and maintenance contractors can conduct proactive maintenance rather than a scheduled or reactive approach. Such advanced and predictive maintenance means lower commercial refrigerator component failure count and peace of mind for owners and users.

What does AI look like in commercial refrigerators and commercial freezer equipment?

Part of the Minus Forty and QBD Corp vision, AI will be distributed between the hardware and the cloud. For example, the AI that helps with preventative maintenance is incorporated into the equipment while those that provide insights for you is available on web dashboards and mobile applications.

As for User facing AI/ML, analytics is mainly executed on cloud servers. While commercial refrigerator and freezer analytics will be performed on field devices to optimize equipment parameters, performance, and visual on-site diagnostic.

Retrofitting existing larger systems for IoT can be doable to some degree, while smaller self-contained commercial refrigerator units would not be retrofittable for the most part.

Are there any challenges to utilizing AI in merchandising units?

We expect within the next five years that all major players in the market will have some form of IoT systems with varying degree of sophistication.

IoT systems development is a long process and typically quite expensive. Additionally, such systems require ongoing monitoring, continual bug and glitch fixing, updates and enhancements as this technology is evolving rapidly. As a result, ensure the commercial refrigerator and commercial freezer manufacturer that you partner with has the knowledge, resources and IoT space to develop, work and help maintain such complex systems.

How does AI help your business?

 There are some early adopters out there who know all about AI in commercial refrigeration and what it provides to them from a business standpoint. They are familiar with or have experienced all the benefits first-hand. However, there is a large portion of you, who may have never heard of AI, are very skeptical, or there’s a willingness to stay status-quo. AI and ML can help solve your pain points by:

  • Significantly reducing equipment operating, service and maintenance costs
  • Eliminating downtime and perishable product spoilage
  • Providing predictive equipment behavior
  • Improving overall user experience

In conclusion, AI and IoT is the new frontier for commercial refrigerators and commercial freezers. The insights generated from AI can be utilized to optimize the efficiencies in procurement of raw materials, distribution of labor, targeted marketing, and sales strategies. The costs involved in maintaining such a valuable resource is quite minimal and the Return on Investment (ROI) is quite significant. Commercial refrigerators and freezers with AI foster collaboration with sharing of knowledge and information and provide holistic solutions in the micro market and vending industries. There is no doubt that AI brings significant benefits to your industry. Learn more about Minus Forty’s SmartConnect™. It is the evolution of IoT connectivity.


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