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Kühlschrank

Intelligent Monitoring of Refrigerators at the Point of Sale

Monitoring of refrigerators for a Latin American beverage manufacturer

The customer is an international producer and bottler of beverages based in Central America. To increase sales and for advertising purposes, the branded refrigerators are made available to his customers free of charge within the framework of distribution partnerships.

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Challenge

The operation of these refrigerators posed two major challenges for the beverage manufacturer.

» Impeccable and constant functionality

It had to be ensured that the refrigerators functioned perfectly at all times, as the beverage manufacturer complained of lost sales due to the faulty operation of its refrigerators. This includes both the optimal cooling of the beverages and the constant illumination of the brand advertising on the device itself. If problems occurred, the service teams had to be informed and dispatched as quickly as possible to prevent any adverse effects on beverage sales. In the past, however, since service staff had to travel to each individual sales partner location to inspect or repair the refrigerators, even in the case of mere suspicion of problems, this often resulted in high and avoidable costs in the past.

» Ensuring correct use

It was also necessary to ensure that the refrigerators were neither stolen nor misappropriated, for example by stocking them with products other than those of the drinks manufacturer, or by removing them from the points of sale to use them for purposes other than the intended cooling of drinks.

Solution

Together with an American system integrator and a world-leading manufacturer of IoT gateways, azeti developed a comprehensive solution for remote monitoring of beverage refrigerators for the customer. For this purpose, individual gateways were developed based on the project requirements. In addition to a large number of interfaces for connecting sensors, the gateway has a mobile radio modem and GPS for data communication, as well as a rechargeable battery which continues to supply the refrigerators and thus also the gateway with energy when there is no power supply. The finished gateways were installed together with the following sensors and relays:

  • Temperature sensor in cooling area
  • Temperature sensor for the compressor
  • Ambient temperature sensor
  • Door contact sensor Sensor for measuring the power supply
  • Sensor for measuring whether illuminated advertising is switched on
  • Relay for interrupting the power supply to the refrigerator

Part of the azetis software runs on the IoT Gateway to collect the sensor data and evaluate it directly locally. If, for example, the temperature in the refrigerator is too high because the door has not been closed properly, the azeti software automatically sends out an alarm and informs the relevant employees. The azeti software can also determine whether the refrigerator requires maintenance. This is done by means of various measuring points such as the running time of the device, the heat pattern of the compressor in the refrigerator or deviations in power consumption.

In addition, the built-in GPS and the battery can also be used to determine whether the refrigerator is still in the intended point of sale, for example, or whether it has been moved to another location and therefore no longer serves the purpose of selling drinks. If this is the case, the beverage manufacturer can send a signal via the azeti platform to permanently interrupt the power supply to the refrigerator and thus the functioning of the refrigerator.

In addition to the opportunities for the beverage manufacturer's service teams, marketing and sales also receive valuable information. All data is made available to the respective departments of the beverage manufacturer on individually adapted dashboards on the azeti platform. Depending on the position and responsibility, the data can be made available and further evaluations can be carried out. In this way, the marketing and sales department can look together with the service department to see which sales partners should be focused on.

Benefits for technology and service

The customer was able to plan his service assignments in a more targeted manner, resulting in enormous time and cost savings in the area of maintenance. The service technicians receive all information on a specific device on a specially adapted dashboard and can determine in advance whether a fault is present and what the probable cause is. As a result, maintenance teams can better plan and optimize both the time required for repairs and the associated recommissioning by diagnosing faults in a targeted manner and bringing the right spare parts to the service call.  

The use of refrigerators that were not used to sell the manufacturer's beverages was also eliminated. Since the built-in battery allows the refrigerator to be powered even without a direct connection to a power source, it is possible to locate the device via IoT Gateway and initiate measures such as the permanent interruption of the power supply. This function led to a minimization of the unwanted misuse.

Benefits for marketing

The data provided offers enormous added value for marketing. For example, by opening the doors, the sales volume or monthly agreed quotas can be determined more precisely. Based on this data, targeted marketing and sales measures can be determined and aligned with sales forecasts.

 

Likewise, measurements of temperature and power supply of illuminated advertising can provide individual information on whether branding guidelines are being adhered to. At the same time, by comparing historical data, it can be analyzed whether strategies are successful or need to be changed.

 

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