Point of Sale (POS) functionality is vital to supporting sales in retail and food service. When the POS equipment goes down, so does revenue. Customers may leave temporarily or permanently, moving on to a competitor. Maintaining POS equipment is a significant expense — but it’s also crucial.
Many companies rely on a reactive maintenance model, responding to equipment failure when it happens. Other companies prefer the predictive maintenance model, anticipating service needs based on the calendar or equipment usage. Anticipating problems before they happen can greatly reduce downtime and, thus, increase equipment availability and sales. However, this can also be a costly approach that, at best, makes guesses about a piece of equipment’s servicing needs. It is not an accurate reflection of a particular location’s usage or its operating environment. This type of servicing can be more costly, wasting time and financial resources.
Dodging Unplanned Downtime
A better approach is one that’s focused on eliminating unplanned downtime altogether. This “zero downtime” approach relies on on-prem cloud computing in tandem with predictive maintenance. This powerful combination is now available, thanks to the 5G rollout and widespread availability of high-speed connectivity. It’s a great option that’s now a reality for retail and food service operations.
Using a zero-downtime strategy, retail and quick-service restaurants (QSRs) can expand the scheduled maintenance window, intelligently anticipating and forecasting service issues and equipment lifespans. It’s like a smarter, more efficient version of predictive maintenance, which can now incorporate the establishment’s local operating environment with enterprise-wide data. This allows the system to reduce and even eliminate equipment failure, so the companies experience zero downtime with their systems.
The Zero-Downtime Checklist
With this goal in mind, we’ve developed a zero-downtime checklist for potential clients to help them determine how to self-assess their needs and their current situation. Each company comes into the process with its own experiences, readiness level, and timeline. There is no right answer, just those reflecting a company’s unique circumstances. This checklist can be used as an internal work document for leadership when evaluating the situation and potential optimizing solutions.
1. Define your goals.
Why are you embarking on this process? What outcome do you envision? What does success look like?
Some companies want to increase and capture sales typically lost with equipment failure or equipment servicing time. Some companies want to avoid the frustration, chaos, and disruption of that POS downtime. Other companies are looking at maintenance costs, seeking ways to decrease them. Losing sales and handling equipment service with unanticipated downtime can impact staffing, and companies want to avoid that. But most often, a company is seeking a combination of these benefits.
2. Assess the current situation.
Any plan should include an assessment of the current status. Identify how POS maintenance and repair work in your organization currently. Then, calculate current costs, maintenance intervals, factors affecting the predictive maintenance, how these factors differ between locations, current performance, and uptime. Use this information to identify gaps for improvement, which will help you develop return on investment (ROI) forecasts for this project.
3. Develop key performance indicators (KPIs).
Combine the goals you identified with Step 1 with the improvement gaps in Step 2 to develop your KPIs. Lay out benchmarks to establish your performance goals that will demonstrate success and improve operations. KPIs might include measuring scheduled or unscheduled downtime, as well as uptime. It can include revenue processed or sold per POS system. Another KPI is the mean time between failure (MTBF), which measures reliability, as well as mean time to repair (MTTR), which quantifies the time it takes to get your equipment back in use. Overall equipment effectiveness is another possible KPI to adopt.
4. Research technology solutions.
It’s now time to see what technology is available to help meet your goals. It involves seeking out new technologies and vendors to optimize the data you’re collecting now to bring in additional functionality. You might need to make additional investments to implement a zero-downtime plan. That could mean using your existing assets and connecting them to monitoring systems or it can mean investigating an “as a service” (AAS) offering that manages hardware, software, and networking with a single point of contact.
5. Assess internal expertise.
You may need to bring on additional staff to implement a system, as expertise will be required not only to develop it but to run and maintain it. If you had the internal expertise to develop a zero-downtime goal, would you have already done it? That’s why another option is outsourcing the implementation and management to a provider that offers an end-to-end solution, which saves your human resources and capital expenses for other projects.
6. Develop a relationship with a predictive maintenance solutions provider.
If you go the outsourcing route, it is time to select your predictive maintenance provider. With the AAS model, you would rely on a single platform that covers services, infrastructure, and platforms to deliver increased uptime at a lower cost than managing in-house with separate providers. Find a provider with expertise in this area, who can walk you through the process and show how you will realize the needed savings and meet your goals.
The zero-downtime approach can be a win-win experience for the customer and the provider. The customer has fewer service disruptions, leading to a better shopping experience. The retail or food service establishment enjoys greater loyalty and sales revenue. They also experience fewer frustrating disruptions and equipment downtime.
Maven Wave / Atos’ predictive maintenance solution provides other advantages to the retailer and food service company: an easy way to outsource pain points, with lower capital expenses. The solution brings the infrastructure, hardware, platforms, and business applications, all managed with a monthly service expense model. The single platform means that all stores in a market or across the company’s global footprint can work in sync with visibility into the maintenance monitoring. Onsite staff can take equipment malfunctions off their plates, improving the work situation and lowering stress levels, while also improving customer service.
To learn more about zero-downtime and how to approach it, download our new white paper “Transitioning to ‘Zero Downtime’: Edge Computing in Retail & Food Service Environments”.
RETAIL AND FOOD SERVICES
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