One Giant Leap – GeoCoding in Facilities

One Giant Leap – GeoCoding in Facilities


By Kevin Smith, Chief Operating Officer

GeoCoding offers a generational leap forward for facility programs.

GeoCodingIn the year 2000, the ability to validate a service was as basic as the technology we used on a daily basis. VCRs, Walkmans, signed work order tickets and phone calls to the local store manager after every service — while rudimentary — were the benchmark of the industry.

In 2005, that process took a few steps forward through the use of IVR technology, allowing providers to call into a central phone system, confirming what services were completed. While not perfect, with the technology offering significantly less value for certain exterior services like snow removal and landscaping, it still provided an improved level of transparency to the services being delivered day in and day out at the local facilities. As the years progressed, IVR became a staple of any best-in-class facility program.

In 2015, the process has taken a generational leap forward through the use of GeoCoding, providing real-time and “100% accuracy” of location and time of services. How does this technology work and what are its implications to the industry as a whole? Let’s explore some of the more relevant applications.

Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based navigation system that provides location and time information. Created by the United States government, they maintain and allow access to the system as long as you have a GPS receiver. GPS technology has become part of the fabric of our day-to-day lives, supporting not just your ability to find your Aunt Susan’s house for that last-minute holiday party but allowing our entire financial banking system to transact business to securing our ability to protect our borders from enemies far and wide. Pick up the latest thriller in your local bookstore and an attack on our GPS infrastructure is a popular storyline. So it is no surprise that GPS technology has invaded facilities.

So how does it work and how might it work for your portfolio?

For retailers who partner with many of the larger third-party work order platforms, your service partners will be able to utilize their GPS systems to check in and out for every service. Wondering if and when your facility was serviced? Review the GPS data, and an accurate description of time spent on-site is received. If you don’t currently utilize a third-party platform, speak to your current service partners as many companies have launched their own GeoCode apps with great success. So what do most retailers hope to accomplish with the transition to a GeoCode app?

1. For those still trying to navigate away from the old school hard copy work order, this provides a clear line of sight into the services being delivered.

2. From a direct cost perspective, a retailer should expect to see a significant cost reduction in its own administrative costs now that it can stop reviewing thousands of hard copy work orders every month.

3. For the suppliers, the cost to distribute, collect and follow up on every work order ticket has a real cost — take that away and drive some savings back to your own service program.

4. If you have moved to IVR already, this next generation verification tool will provide an improved confirmation into who was there, when they were there and most importantly, what they did.

5. Looking for a direct line access to the crew on-site? An advanced GeoCode app will have “push communication” capabilities, allowing it to send real time updates to the techs in the field. Imagine sending a note to a crew alerting them to a blocked fire door that needs shoveling, which they can view as soon as they arrive on-site.

The list of applications is endless. As technology advances daily and companies continue to explore its use for facilities, the truly exciting part is what the next 3 to 5 years will bring. We’ve made the leap from IVR to GPS. What will the next leap from GPS look and feel like? While talk about drones has been a fun topic at some recent shows, my guess is the next great thing is something still in its infancy. Could a software application like Uber, for example, be the foundation for future computer code for suppliers to assign and dispatch service techs in the field? We shall see. Somebody may already be testing just that option!

In the meantime, I would encourage everyone to continue to explore the advances made in technology and push your own organizations forward as our industry continues to push for ways to become more efficient and more effective in the facilities we support and manage every day.

Published in RETAIL & RESTAURANT FACILITY BUSINESS – DECEMBER 2015 / JANUARY 2016 n © 2016 France Media, Inc.
Non-LED Alternatives

Non-LED Alternatives


By Dave Magill, Vice President of Program Management

How to reduce lighting energy and maintenance cost without retrofitting to LED

Lighting_02_WEB Although the cost of LED lighting has dropped over the last few years, it can still prove to be a costly investment. With lease requirements, location closings and lack of capital expense funding, an LED retrofit may not be a practical option for your facilities. The good news is that you can still reduce energy and maintenance costs without incurring the expense of retrofitting to LED lighting.

Let’s begin by discussing the option of retrofitting T12 lamps to T8 fluorescent lamps. If you haven’t completed this retrofit yet, it is a great way to reduce both energy consumption and maintenance costs. As most of us are aware, governmental regulations have made the T12 fluorescent lamp obsolete, and they are no longer being manufactured. This change will likely lead to increased replacement with the more efficient T8 linear fluorescent tubes. While this option will, in fact, deliver savings, it does not come without challenges as the ballast used for T-12 lamps are not compatible with the T8 tubes so the ballast must also be replaced in this process. Since both the ballast and the lamps are being replaced, the time and money spent maintaining the fixture will decrease significantly over the next 3 to 4 years.

As far as energy savings are concerned, by replacing a T12 four lamp fixture with a like T8 28- watt version you can anticipate an energy reduction of over 40%. Compare that to the more than 50% savings from the 25-watt T8 lamp and the numbers speak for themselves. The 28-watt version has comparable lumen output to the T12 and the 25-watt lamp’s lumen reduction is minimal. This is a relatively low-cost retrofit with incentive rebate funds available to offset your investment. Once completed, lamp and ballast replacement can be handled under warranty for premature failures, further reducing maintenance costs and concerns.

If you already have T8 lamps installed at your locations and still find yourself replacing lamps and ballasts as needed, you may want to consider group re-lamping. Group re-lamping is a process in which every lamp at your locations is replaced simultaneously to assure adequate lighting and reduce maintenance costs. By replacing existing lamps with a lower wattage option, you can increase energy savings while still maintaining adequate light levels. Because most fluorescent lamps have a rated life of more than 29,000 hours, these lamps can last up to 4 years without having to be replaced. Relamping every 4 years gives you the ability to anticipate and budget accordingly. Since all lamps are being replaced at once, you can set the install date with the manufacturer to insure warranty term, allowing you to replace lamps under warranty and reduce material costs for failed lamps.

If you are replacing incandescent lighting, compact fluorescent lamps are still a viable and cost-effective option. Compact fluorescent lamps are available to replace most incandescent lamp applications and have long lamp rated life. You can source them in warm white and cool white color. Achieving energy reduction of up to 75% can make this a very appealing and cost-effective replacement option.

It’s no secret that the best way to save energy when it comes to lighting is to simply turn them off when not in use. For this reason, there is a wide range of lighting control options available to meet all of your interior and exterior needs.Lighting_01_WEB

Motion sensors are the most basic lighting control option available. They can replace a light switch or be mounted in a variety of locations, including offices, bathrooms, stock rooms and other areas where lighting is only needed when someone is in the area. Motion sensors are extremely cost-effective and many electric companies offer attractive incentive rebates for their installation and operation.

Another popular lighting control option is daylighting. Daylighting takes advantage of natural light during the daytime hours to illuminate interior spaces. This system allows electric lighting to be entirely or partially turned off during this time. Daylighting works best in facilities with existing skylights or large window applications. These systems are often more expensive than basic controls, but can be integrated into remodels or new builds.

When it comes to exterior lighting controls, photocells and time clocks are among the most basic and most popular options on the market. These options allow you to set on and off times for exterior fixtures, reducing costly maintenance calls and increasing energy savings.

While LED retrofits may be the most prevalent method to improve energy efficiencies, the costs associated with LED may not make that a viable option.

The solutions outlined within this article are just a few of many ways you can create efficiency within your lighting system. In order to maximize your energy savings and reduce your maintenance costs, we suggest consulting with a lighting services company. A company with lighting expertise can perform a location survey and lighting audit to best identify what solutions would best align with your goals and budgets.


Published in RETAIL & RESTAURANT FACILITY BUSINESS – DECEMBER 2015 / JANUARY 2016 n © 2016 France Media, Inc.
Sustainable Solutions & Recycling Deliver Savings

Sustainable Solutions & Recycling Deliver Savings

By Alex Dworkin, Senior Project Manager – Capital Projects

A recent project my firm was involved in illustrated that, with some creativity and a little extra effort, sustainable solutions can not only be achieved, but can also deliver savings.

Sustainable-SolutionsOne of our large national retail partners approached us with a challenging, yet simple project: Adjust the shelving layout throughout their entire portfolio, which consisted of over 8,000 locations. The goal was to remove specific sets of shelving components to allow for clearer lines of visibility to all areas of the store. Any project of this magnitude naturally comes with its usual challenges, including coordination with the local store managers, varying shelving layouts, and an aggressive timeline to complete the projects were all factored in. But this one took the concept of “complexity” one step further by adding an element of sustainability.

The story behind the project was very clear: The retailer’s stores were receiving less bulky merchandise, so there wasn’t any need for the extra shelving, which often obstructs sight lines on the sales floor. The scope of the project was simple: remove and dispose of the shelving units. Expectations were set high and included minimal impact to store operations, heavy communication, coordination and validation at the store level and individual billing per store. The budget was tight, and our client asked us to be creative in ensuring that all stores be completed within the fiscal year. Internally we identified this project as an opportunity to promote a sustainable solution through an aggressive recycling program.

Recycling Plan

In order to execute a recycling project of any size there must be a well-conceived plan, one that is communicated to the client and, most importantly, followed closely throughout the project. Our first step was to notify the client of our desire to recycle the metal shelving since we needed their cooperation and permission to use on-site storage space.

Our next step was to engage numerous local and national waste disposal organizations to best understand the most efficient options available for collecting and transporting the waste products to recycling facilities. By strategically locating recycling dumpsters at key locations within the retailer’s portfolio, we were able to centralize collection and easily coordinate pick up and removal. Internally, we recognized that managing the recycling program was a job in itself and tasked some members of the project team with solely focusing on managing this aspect of the job.

Having trusted vendor partners throughout the country enabled our operations team to source thousands of sites to those we knew had the capability and understanding of how to complete a project of this magnitude and within our time frame. Each vendor received a store list, a link to the instructional video and specific instruction on the recycling component.

Our team was split into three different groups: project execution, recycling and invoicing. The execution team was responsible for assigning and educating vendors, as well as coordinating with store managers. The recycling team held vendors accountable for delivering the waste materials to the appropriate collection points, to ensure coordination with our waste recycling partners, as well as tracking the financial returns from the process. In the end our invoicing team closed the loop by invoicing each location per customer-set criteria.

Watching any plan come together and delivering on a promise to the client is what this business is all about. But the sustainability factor meant adding a little more to both the client and us. Keeping 100% of the shelving, support posts and insert pins from landfills delivered a truly sustainable solution. By using local recycling locations throughout the country, we were able to help our client in their efforts to be continuously green. We also reduced the overall project cost by 15%, converting what may have been a disposal fee into a financial rebate.


Published in CHAIN STORE AGE – JUNE 2015

Sustainable Solutions Can Also Deliver Savings