Managing a fleet of refrigeration units is a major challenge for those in the retail industry who sell cold products.

Many retail stores have to keep several different kinds of food at several different temperature ranges — think fruit, dairy, vegetables, meat, fish, flowers, ice, etc. Don’t forget about comfort cooling for ambient temperature as well.

How can a retail store manage it all and keep their consumers safe from spoiled food?

Could we put a temperature sensor on each cooling unit? This idea is already being implemented and it isn’t very accurate. The problem is that customers open and close the cooling unit doors with regularity, which disrupts the ability of the sensor to accurately track the in-cooler temperature from that of the surrounding ambient temperature.

How about we put multiple sensors on each cooling unit? Perhaps connect them to a computer, and have the computer send push notifications? This is a great idea, but it only solves one problem. Monitoring the performance and efficiency of a cooler is only half the battle. There is no way to know when the food has spoiled or how many times the cooler has been opened. Furthermore, there is no automated way to know when the cooler needs to be restocked.

What if we have an inventory supervisor check the inventory and temperature of the cooling units? The issue with this idea is inaccuracy. To be accurate, a store would need multiple people running multiple inventory and cooling checks. It would be more efficient to have an automated computer to run both checks simultaneously. Then if something intrigues a manager, they could investigate when needed.

How SAP Leonardo for Retail Can Help

The SAP Leonardo industry innovation kit for Retail, assets option, can help automate the cooling units along by automating inventory checks and improving consumer safety. Here are a couple benefits:

  • Maximize equipment uptime and ensure consistent temperatures within preset tolerances
  • Minimize or eliminate lost revenue due to spoilage or product expiration

By using SAP Cloud Platform and analytics with machine learning SAP Leonardo for Retail, assets option, can help regulate the temperatures in each cooling unit. It can adjust the inside cooler temperature after the door has been opened and closed. If the door is open for too long, it sends an alert through the cloud platform to get help.

What about open coolers? Like fruit and vegetables? For these coolers, the SAP Leonardo for Retail, assets option analyzes the ambient temperature and compares it to the cooler temperature. Once calculated through analytics, the kit will make the proper adjustments. Because of more consistent cooler temperatures, the foods can stay fresher longer. This means less spoiled food, money saved from consistent energy usage, and happy customers.

Other Uses for the Assets Option

SAP Leonardo for Retail, assets option, can also track how many times each door on a refrigerator has been opened. Oliver Grob, retail solution manager at SAP, explains: “When we can track door openings, we then can correlate these door openings to POS sales data and then see how many products have been sold from this cooler.”

This is valuable because it gives retail stores an insight into their customers’ behavior as well as retail rates. This means that retail store managers get a better understanding of what products are being sold and more importantly, which products the customers like. With this knowledge, retail managers can know exactly where to place certain products, which could prove highly valuable not when selling products but protecting goods. By tracking door opening and comparing them to products sold, companies can reduce money lost to theft.

Another use case is being able to accurately predict when assets need to be repaired or fixed. Instead of wasting time and money on monthly maintenance routines, each asset can be repaired separately when needed. This is extremely valuable because stores can maximize asset uptime. For example, instead of shutting down a whole row of coolers for maintenance, retail managers can shut down only the specific coolers that need maintenance, thus saving money on maintenance costs.

A Future with Smart Shelves

SAP is exploring extending this kit to retail shelving applications, with the goal to have a smart shelf that will know exactly how many boxes of food it is holding. It would also know what kind of food is on the shelf. With this information, you could track stock information, which is very valuable to retail managers. It could help with understanding why a shelf is empty.

Today the only way to track such information is through what is sold. But with a smart shelf, retail managers could know when customers take products off the shelf and it could reduce or eliminate stock-outs. Smart shelves could also provide tremendous insight into customer behavior.

SAP Leonardo for Retail, assets option, allows the user to monitor their assets within cooling units. This allows retailers to minimize money lost on spoiled food and energy, gives them the ability to predict when their assets need repairs, and it can help increase overall asset uptime. By tracking door openings, the assets option can help managers understand customer behavior and reduce theft.

Learn more about the assets option

Related: A Plan to Stop Food Waste with SAP Leonardo

This story originally appeared on Medium.