In an ever-changing world, businesses are continuously evolving to keep up with inherent consumer behavior and desires. Over the last decade, online sales have seen a quantum jump with e-commerce sales in 2019 capturing 14.1% of total global retail. This percentage is expected to be up to 18.1% in 2021 and 22% by 2023.
To counter this trend, retailers are scrambling to protect the foot fall in their brick and mortar chains. Keeping customers at the center, they want to create a seamless shopping experience where all enablers are directed towards helping the customers make desired sales.
The retail space is designed, and the infrastructure is developed towards creating a great experience for customers. Whether it is product mix, location of the product stack and cash registers in the design, promotions, branding, etc. in the front, or warehouse, supply chain, IT systems, etc. in the background, retailers want to put together a seamless and cohesive consumer centric environment.
In the US alone, 657,000 commercial spaces spend almost $21 billion in energy costs. 38% of these costs are claimed by the retail spaces’ heating and cooling systems. Hence, retailers are giving more and more importance towards lighting, heating, cooling, and other consumer comfort related parameters.
The on-going pandemic has shown the importance of having ‘healthy buildings’ and businesses have increased investments in newer technologies - to provide cleaner air, more efficient energy, and a more sustainable way of delivering value to customers. With new infrastructure and evolving building management systems (BMS) retailers are engaging with cutting-edge IoT-based energy management companies.
The goal is to use machine learning and AI-driven intelligent analytics to achieve consumer comfort, employee safety and energy cost optimization.
The CORTIX™ platform powers energy management services by EcoEnergy Insights
From the onset, EcoEnergy Insights has always focused on providing a world class energy management service to clients.
A great differentiator is the context-based approach which makes the core of the solutions, and a highly intelligent CORTIX AI and IoT Platform that is used by analysts and domain experts, with a track record of saving millions of dollars in energy by enabling data-driven decision making.
The CORTIX platform can digest data, understand the context, and translate it into meaningful information. This information helps retailers and commercial spaces to operate with improved efficiency. In return, this efficiency results in improved equipment health and lower energy consumption, thus offering more comfort and safety to customers. It also builds customer loyalty - thereby growing the topline while improving the bottom line through energy savings.
The 4 key takeaways from retailers’ experiences are:
- Predictive maintenance is the new normal
Buildings have inherently been maintained in the past through reactive maintenance or break fixes. When a rooftop unit (RTU) is not working, a technician is called to fix the issue, or if the power outlet is not working, an electrician is called for repairs.
The next stage of evolution includes preventive maintenance where retailers undertake scheduled tune-up / repair of the building infrastructure a few times a year. Unfortunately, reactive repairs or break fixes can continue to occur.
The CORTIX platform uses data to communicate with different systems and exchange vital stats on health and operation parameters. Based on these numbers, the platform’s intelligent analytics deciphers relevant information through a series of complex algorithms and big data analytics.
The platform offers an AI assistant for different connected equipment, typically installed in buildings such as HVACR equipment, lighting systems and building controls. The platform understands the context in which the connected equipment operates and that changes in context can cause changes in equipment performance. This comprehension enables the platform to identify or predict an issue correctly and then recommend precisely the appropriate action to be taken, in simple actionable steps.
The platform supports smart buildings with predictive and proactive repairs, thereby ensuring smooth running of business operations and optimized costs. In 2020, for one retailer, for with 1,976 connected stores in North America, the platform enabled reducing maintenance costs by 16%, compared to the base year of 2015.
- Smart buildings are healthy buildings
The COVID-19 pandemic has given us more reasons to transform buildings and retail spaces into smarter and more intuitive buildings. Retailers are adding new air quality equipment in their stores and buildings. These air cleaning devices use bipolar ionization or HEPA filters and come as portable air cleaners or in-duct air cleaners for existing HVAC systems.
The quality of air is further augmented with better engineering controls over the infrastructure and the equipment, to reduce the risk of airborne transmission of viruses in an individual building or space.
The CORTIX platform helps analyze the external weather & air health parameters – including particle pollution (also known as particulate matter, including PM2.5 and PM10), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, temperature, humidity, etc. – and uses the information from intelligent sensors to determine the most ideal settings for building infrastructure and equipment.
Furthermore, the CORTIX platform integrates seamlessly with the external weather feed to monitor heat waves, cold snaps, forest fires, etc. It analyzes the impact of natural phenomenon on internal building environments, determines course corrective steps, makes automatic adjustments to building infrastructure, and finally, reverts the system back to the original state once the stress period has passed.
- Efficient energy management creates value
Given an exponentially increasing demand, the cost of energy has been one of the key cost elements, and hence, one of the focus areas for businesses, to optimize energy utilization while simultaneously improving business operations.
The CORTIX platform helps retailers view and understand their energy consumption pattern, identify gaps in operations, and recommends ways to optimize it by eliminating inefficiencies - thereby reducing the overall energy cost.
The intelligent platform breaks down the energy consumption into context-based data. For example, the captured data is broken down into - time of the day (typically unoccupied hours, partial / employee hours, and customer hours), asset category consumption (lighting, HVAC, other loads), and other industry specific factors.
This information allows retailers to generate more value, reduce costs and contribute towards a more sustainable world.
- The more connected the systems, the greater the efficiency
Imagine driving by a commercial location at night when most part of the city is asleep. We have all seen retail stores with lights on despite being “closed” for business.
How wonderful it would be if buildings became smarter and identified such instances, made informed decisions, cross-validated the accuracy of those decisions, and executed the decisions by turning off the lights - without any human intervention.
The CORTIX platform helps retailers achieve these exact results and save millions in energy by optimizing the use of their building infrastructure and equipment through an interconnected network of systems with intelligent analytics.
It monitors building operations and takes corrective actions to maintain comfort and ensure operational efficiency at the same time. Whether it’s compressors, heaters, interior lights, parking, or outdoor lights – the CORTIX platform, when connected to the systems, creates a larger, smarter network of communicating systems and uses the “CORTIXact” automation package to auto correct most of the deviations. Examples include releasing the light command when there’s an occupancy off signal or turning the HVAC fan system off when the building is in an ‘unoccupied’ state, or intelligently operating a group of RTUs to manage comfort for customers efficiently, even with some inefficient RTUs.
The platform collects data across multiple endpoints and drives relevant information at each layer of communication. The system is equipped with machine learning (ML) algorithms and applies them to the stores’ operational requirements such as schedules, customer hours and security panel inputs.
These complex, rule-based algorithms then analyze, cross-validate the findings, and recommend actions to be triggered through the building / retail space control set-up.
Future-proof your retail business with the CORTIX platform
The CORTIX platform enables retailers to change the way they work.
In summary, some of the interesting learnings from retail spaces and buildings using the CORTIX platform are:
- Smart buildings communicate! We need to use systems that can listen and understand what they say. If we can decipher buildings’ languages and intuitively make sense of them, then we can run buildings optimally, maintaining healthy and comfortable spaces for the occupants.
- Smart buildings can take course-corrective action without any human intervention to accommodate for any anomaly.
- Smart buildings can be set up for predictive and proactive maintenance, thereby reducing time and maintenance costs