HVAC and kitchen equipment running efficiently
53 restaurant locations across 2 states
HVAC monitoring and control as well as Smart Kitchen and Food Safety
Efficient equipment, while decreasing energy cost and service calls
Results: Since 2014, Powerhouse Dynamics’ Open Kitchen IoT-based enterprise platform has been an indispensable part of Brumit’s facilities management strategy.
About Brumit Restaurant Group
Brumit Restaurant Group is headquartered in Asheville, NC. The company was founded in 1988 with 13 Arby’s restaurants in western North Carolina. Today Brumit operates 53 Arby’s located throughout North and South Carolina. Keeping the HVAC and kitchen equipment running efficiently at multiple locations is a significant challenge for the Brumit management team. So is ensuring food safety. Since 2014, Powerhouse Dynamics’ Open Kitchen IoT-based enterprise platform has been an indispensable part of Brumit’s facilities management strategy.
Multiple locations: tough challenges for facilities management professionals
Drew Ponder is Brumit Restaurant Group’s Facilities Supervisor. Unlike most restaurant chains, Brumit handles virtually all maintenance tasks internally. Drew’s team of 6 maintenance technicians and a building technician works across 2 states, serving all 53 of Brumit’s Arby’s restaurants. Drew and the team are constantly busy, dealing with challenges that include:
- Responsibility for multiple, widely separated facilities. The team can’t be everywhere at once. With restaurant locations spread across two states, it just isn’t possible to physically check everything every day.
- Small problems with equipment can easily get “lost in the shuffle”, going unnoticed or unreported until they worsen. This results in down time and costly repairs or replacement. Drew and his team need to discover and deal with subtle, not-too-obvious equipment issues before they turn into big problems.
- Employee errors in equipment operation can cause costly malfunctions and lead to food safety problems. To reduce maintenance costs and ensure food safety, the team must quickly identify and correct these errors.
- When energy costs in some locations escalate due to unnecessary use of HVAC, lighting, etc., Drew’s team needs to pinpoint the causes of these problems and enable corrective action.
The solution: Powerhouse Dynamics’ Open Kitchen platform
In 2014, Brumit deployed Powerhouse Dynamics’ Open Kitchen cloud-based Enterprise Management platform at 3 restaurant locations. When these initial deployments proved effective Open Kitchen was installed at all Brumit restaurants, where the platform controls all HVAC equipment and monitors HVAC, walk-in freezers, and coolers. Some restaurants also have Open Kitchen factory-integrated in their fryers, dish machines, holding ovens, and food preparation tables. Whenever Brumit opens a new restaurant, Open Kitchen installation is standard.
A facilities supervisor’s view: benefits of Open Kitchen’s real-time monitoring and control
As Brumit’s facilities supervisor, Drew Ponder continually works with data provided by the Open Kitchen platform and relies on its alerts to notify him when problems arise. He’s in an ideal position to evaluate its effectiveness. Here are some of the ways Open Kitchen has helped Drew and his team improve their management of Brumit’s multiple facilities.
- Real-time monitoring of critical systems at all 53 of Brumit’s restaurants. Open Kitchen immediately alerts Drew and his team when problems arise. “We can’t physically check everything every day. Open Kitchen does that for us.”
- Lower energy costs. Drew estimates that thermostat control improvements have lowered Brumit’s energy costs by a full 10%. “Our electric bill has been going down for 3 years now. We’ve realized enormous savings from the control Open Kitchen gives us.”
- Fewer service calls for the facilities team. “In the first year with Open Kitchen, we cut call-outs in half. That number is still going down.”
- Earlier detection of malfunctions. “Open Kitchen has helped make us proactive, not reactive. Especially for HVAC equipment, it shows us very early indicators, subtle things that nobody would ordinarily notice. Now our team can get ahead of them and fix them before failure. For example, we used to change about 45 compressors each year—now we’re changing fewer than 15.”
- Clear indications when aging equipment needs to be replaced. “Open Kitchen gives us a better way to evaluate efficiency. Our equipment used to average 12 years old, but now it’s down to 9 years.”
- Easy detection of human error or poor employee behaviors. “The platform’s reports and alerts can tell us when employees are using equipment in ways that cause food safety issues or unnecessary costs.”
Drew Ponder, Facilities Manager, Brumit Restaurant Group
Another benefit: cultural change
The Open Kitchen installation is also responsible for what Drew refers to as a cultural change at Brumit. “Open Kitchen opened the door for us. It made us realize we had to get more energy conscious. It changed the culture of the entire team. Now we all constantly think about the possibilities for ROI on energy savings,” he said.
Conclusion: Facilities managers with multiple locations need to know about Open Kitchen
Drew has no hesitation in recommending the Open Kitchen platform to any facilities manager seeking to gain better control of energy usage and food safety at multiple locations. He’s also enthusiastic about his interactions with Powerhouse Dynamics. “The people at Powerhouse Dynamics have been great to work with. They’ve been accessible and responsive to any problems or questions that might come up. They absolutely believe in customer service.”