In this episode of the IoT For All Podcast, Chief Customer Officer of Wellington Drive Technologies, David Burden, joins Ryan Chacon to discuss the role of IoT in commercial refrigeration. Wellington Drive Technologies is a leading supplier of IoT solutions for commercial refrigeration that has aided a number of companies in recovering lost assets and achieving ROI on their projects in less than two years. The use of IoT in the commercial refrigeration industry has been shown to increase product sales by 55 percent with the use of temperature tracking sensors, as well as aiding in the recovery of 40 percent of lost assets. David and Ryan discuss various other topics, including how Wellington builds their solutions, other use cases of IoT in commercial refrigeration, and challenges he’s observed as a Chief Customer Officer.
David Burden joined Wellington in 2018 as part of the iProximity acquisition. An Australian entrepreneur with 30 years of experience, David Burden founded and led what became Australia’s largest and best-recognized interactive and mobile services company, Legion Interactive. In December 2013, David Burden and Rohan Lean established an exciting new IoT company, iProximity, focusing on proximity marketing and digital information services. iProximity was acquired by Wellington in July 2018, and David Burden was appointed the role of Vice President of Group Marketing and IoT Products. In November 2021, David Burden was promoted to Chief Customer Officer.
Interested in connecting with David Burden? Reach out to him on Linkedin!
Wellington Drive Technologies is one of the world’s leading suppliers of advanced electronic IoT solutions for the commercial refrigeration industry. We help our refrigeration customers with quieter, more efficient equipment that is less expensive to produce, requires less maintenance and downtime. They design, manufacture, and sell cloud-based fleet inventory management solutions, smart refrigeration controls, refrigeration fan motors and digital marketing solutions
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(01:22) Introduction to David Burden
(03:09) Background on Wellington Drive Technologies
(04:52) How is Wellington Drive Technologies build their product
(05:51) Use cases of IoT and commercial refrigeration
(09:35) Biggest challenges seen in the IoT industry
(13:21) ROI’s companies are looking from IoT
(17:05) How IoT is affecting the overall strategy for adopters
– [Narrator] You are listening to the IoT For All Media Network.
– [Ryan] Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the IoT For All Podcast. I’m your host, Ryan Chacon. And on today’s episode, we have David Burden, the Chief Customer Officer at Wellington Drive Technologies. Who are a leading supplier in advanced electronic IoT solutions, designated and focused on the commercial refrigeration industry. So we actually dive a lot into that industry, kind of what it is. What opportunities exist when it comes to IoT. And how IoT is currently being used in the commercial refrigeration industry. And we also kind of break away and talk a little bit more high level around what customers need to understand when you are kind of embarking on your IoT journey. And the commitment that’s required to really see true potential when it comes to deploying IoT. But, before we get into that, if any of you out there are looking to enter the fast growing and profitable IoT market, but don’t know where to start, check out our sponsor, Leverege. Leverege is IoT solutions development platform. Provides everything you need to create turnkey IoT products, that you can white label and resell under your own brand. To learn more, go to iotchangeseverything.com that’s iotchangeseverything.com. And without further ado, please enjoy this episode of the IoT For All Podcast. Welcome David to the IoT For All Show. Thanks for being here this week.
– [David] Thanks very much Ryan, great to be here.
– [Ryan] Yeah, it’s fantastic to have you all the way from Australia. So let’s start off by having you give a quick introduction about yourself to our audience. They have a little more context on who they’re listening to.
– [David] Yeah, sure. So I’m the Chief Customer Officer for Wellington Drive. I’ve been involved in a number of technology startups over the years. And I got involved with Wellington Drive, which I suppose is a little bit of a different direction for me. But we got involved when we saw that business side proximity into Wellington. And since that time I’ve been working closely in developing their IoT side of the business. And now as Chief Customer Officer working closely with their customers and helping them adopt IoT.
– [Ryan] Oh, fantastic. My next question was actually gonna be, what does a chief customer officer do? But you already answered that. So is that, are you handling more of the early stage conversations and the educational components kind of how IoT can benefit their business and getting them all the way through to launching with the tech team? Or how does that work?
– [David] Yeah so we, within our customer team is all of those components, right. From the early stage team that help our customers understand IoT. And get their head around what they will get from in a return from investment from IoT commercial refrigeration. And a very large part of our solution is actually helping a customer through that journey, because as we all know, implementation of IoT is not easy. It requires a lot of change within a business to do it right. So we have our customer success team and we embed people from that team into a customer to help them adopt their solution Across the journey.
– [Ryan] Fantastic and so tell us a little bit more about Wellington and kind of the overall focus that you all have. What you’ve built kind of your role in the IoT space and kind of go from there.
– [David] Yeah well, we’re pretty proud to be one of the leading innovators in terms of hardware and software for commercial refrigeration. We work with some of the world’s leading food and beverage companies. And we develop these solutions that really focus on, helping them lift sales. Reduce their service and maintenance costs and overall fleet costs around commercial refrigeration. And, also improve their sustainability which is a very important aspect. We have three main areas that we focus on. Which is our connect IoT platform, where we bring together both the hardware that we build and create with the software and the solutions to really develop that valuable data stream to keep customers informed and drive their business decisions. That’s one element. We also have, a business stream which uses and develops ECR motors. So these are a highly efficient, electronically controlled motor for commercial refrigeration. And this is often up to 300 times more efficient in terms of energy use. And that’s a popular product that we have. And lastly, we get involved in consumer engagement. Again for food and beverage mainly Where we’re helping our customers talk to their consumers right at the point of sale.
– [Ryan] Gotcha. And are you all building these solutions completely in house? Do you have a partner network that you work with? Kind of how have you structured the software and the hardware components together? Which is usually a tricky thing for a company to do all themselves.
– [David] Yeah we’re again, pretty lucky to have one of the world’s, largest teams of refrigeration engineers on board based both in New Zealand and in our global offices. And, all of that design work, Ryan is done in house. So our team design everything from hardware through firmware, through all the software we develop. We partner with a number of different manufacturers because that’s an element that’s a little bit difficult. So, we have manufacturing partners who we work with in China, Vietnam and Mexico and the US to whom actually be build the product. But all the design work is done in house at Wellington.
– [Ryan] Gotcha. And when we’re talking about commercial refrigeration for our audience that maybe are not as familiar with the space. Talk a little bit about, more specific use cases and how the technology, the IoT technologies applied to commercial refrigeration units. Or that whole process just to kind of, more in like layman terms where they can understand it.
– [David] Yeah, so we started off back in 2015 on this journey where our team invented the first, IoT based electronic controller for what we call a bottle cooler. So a bottle cooler is what you would see in a supermarket or the corner store. And often branded by the beverage company Coke, Pepsi or a beer cooler. And these are refrigeration units usually put in into these stores to sell the product at obviously the optimum temperature. So, I mean, you might be thinking, well, why do you actually need IoT in those devices? And what’s the payback for the customer? Well, essentially these are assets and usually a beverage company in a country would have hundreds of thousands of these assets. Scattered around the place. And at a cost of between 500 and 1,500 dollars it adds up quite quickly. So, one of the biggest, paybacks on the investment is knowing where they are. That’s often, a case because they’re an attractive asset. They look good in your backyard next to your barbecue. So knowing where all your assets are is often a very important use case. Being able to get information back from the, coolers on their performance is also really important. Because it helps the company tune their service and maintenance around keeping these equipment operational. One of the biggest factors too is also controlling temperature. So when you’ve got a distributed fleet of several hundred thousand units selling your product at the right temperature is absolutely vital. And, a case study we’ve just finished for a bottler in South America has shown that, by keeping the product at the right temperature, they will increase their sales by 55%. So, controlling a fleet of several hundred thousand coolers becomes pretty important to understand what the temperature for all those units are.
– [Ryan] That that makes a lot of sense. That’s really good insights into a space that I don’t think a lot of us are that familiar with. But we see commercial refrigeration units. I’m sure we come across the them, but, there’s a lot of technology in things like that, that really provide value that we kind of maybe take for granted at times and don’t realize is actually occurring.
– [David] Yeah, that’s right. And you’re right. It’s not a space that people think about a lot, but it’s really important ’cause it maximizes the sales. So, this little bottle cooler that stands inside your corner shop is really the window for that brand. It is their sales outlet, so Having the product at the right temperature, it’s set out and laid out in perfectly having the planogram optimized. So people know exactly where the product is on what shelf from store to store is also really important. And then being able to use some technology to interact with the consumer and help them choose our customer’s product over a competitor’s product is also one of the features that we provide.
– [Ryan] Oh, that’s fantastic. So, talk to me, let’s move out a little high level here and talk to me about the biggest challenges you all have seen in the IoT space. And you could take this from any angle you wish. Whether it’s, challenges you all have encountered that you’ve worked overcome. Challenges you’ve seen in the space from maybe your customer’s perspective. Just where you seeing kind of the biggest challenges that are I guess are hindering or affecting adoption within IoT.
– [David] Yeah, I suppose I’ll come at that more from our point of view. And I’ll steer clear of the common COVID problems that we’re all facing The availability of components et cetera. But really on our adoption curve, it’s been able to, firstly convince customers about the return on investment from adopting IoT. And as we said, many of our customers focused in food and beverage think about technology within their manufacturing plant. But they don’t often think about technology outside in their distribution plant. So, by using our technology distributed in each of their bottle coolers, it allows ’em to get a pretty clear view of that. We find that customers adopting technology is probably one of the greatest challenges. And this is why over the years, that we’ve really developed our customer success team and embed this team with our customers to help them on the journey of adoption. To do this correctly and successfully, you really need to make some changes within your business to get the benefit from IoT. To understand the insights that have been delivered from your fleet in the field. And then putting in place programs that take action on those insights and help develop your business. Especially around service and maintenance of a fleet of 300,000 units in a country. It takes a little bit of effort to bring all that together. So, that’s been one of the, big learning items for us. And it’s where we focus a lot of our time and just helping the adoption process by a customer and integrating it deeply into their business.
– [Ryan] I think that’s a very common, challenge and thus focus for organizations when it comes to IoT implementation and adoption across the board regardless of industry. I talk to tons of people on here about the educational component. What does IoT actually do for their business? How is it gonna implement change? What do they need to do to adopt? What kind of buy-in do they need? How does the whole process work? And all of those things are super important to, getting this through, to the finish line to be something that they can actually utilize and see the value of on a daily basis. So, I completely understand where you’re coming from with that.
– [David] Yeah and they all want to know, okay, so what is return on investment? How soon, am I gonna get payback on this investment? That that’s probably our most common initial question. And, because we can roll out our solution in phases, many of our customers choose to start with the simple solution of knowing where their assets are. And regularly getting the temperature of those devices. And we’ve shown most of these customers now that they can get a complete payback just using that particular facility with inside two years of their investments, so There is definite ROI. If they roll out all the rest of the advantages they can get payback even quicker. But generally we try and stage it because just of the learning curve inside that business.
– [Ryan] So let me ask you then, as it relates to the commercial refrigeration kind of industry as a whole and the companies that you deal with. I guess, what are the biggest ROIs that they’re looking for when it comes to IoT. Or maybe they don’t know they’re looking for but you kind of push, you kind of educate them on what IoT can do as it goes to, potentially finding lost assets. Helping increase sales. What are kind of the, what does it look like on the ROI side that really, makes this success for those companies?
– [David] We start off usually on the asset side, asset location side. And, that can be around two things. One, most of these large comp and we’re talking large global brands here. Sure. You’ve got operations in many different countries and some, even have many bottlers. Many different bottlers of their brand within those countries. So we normally start off with, knowing where the assets are. That’s really the first big one. Most of these companies run an annual audit of their assets. And this is the fleet that’s offer worth hundreds of millions of dollars. So knowing exactly where they are is one of the first things their auditors ask. And normally our process, which takes them a lot of time and costs them a lot of money. So, we do that regularly about 20 times a year per cooler, on average. So they know the location. So that sort of solves problem one. Recovering loss coolers, lost or missing coolers is the second aspect of that. And, we’ve got a company that, recently recovered 40% of their lost coolers saving them tens of millions of dollars of new investment, simply because they turned on a feature that we have that allows ’em to locate them. And, for them that was a great win in not having to invest in new coolers ’cause they found their old ones. The service and maintenance side is often where these companies will see the greatest benefit. So we’ve got, one customer in actually down here in Australia who, is focused. They’re gonna say 40% of their service and maintenance cost across their fleet in a year through the introduction of IoT. And that is a huge saving. That’s many tens of millions of dollars for them. And they’re automating a lot of that process, tying it into their, existing systems and delivering an on time, maintenance schedule. And really lastly, Ryan the sales component is really, really important. So, we’re able to work with our customers and right size of cooler for a location. So, based on on how often consumers are interacting with that cooler and the size of it. Sometimes a, refrigeration unit is too big or too small for a particular location. And, if it’s too big it’s costing money, ’cause it is too big. It’s an asset that’s wrongly, poorly located. And if it’s too small, normally the product temperature is increasing ’cause the door is open so often. So and the other side of that is really that product temperature were, We’ve shown that you can improve sales by 55% if you’re constantly selling product at the right temperature. And that’s sometimes a challenge in some of these smaller stores where you’ve got the store owners saving electricity by turning the coolers off at night thinking they’re doing the right thing. But of course, when they come in in the morning, it takes a while for the, product to be optimized. So, often they’re not selling the product at the best at the best spec.
– [Ryan] Makes a lot of sense. And as we kind of relate it back to the data that’s being able to be collected from these solutions. How are you seeing that really affect the overall productivity of these organizations or for their strategies. Or, how is that leading to maybe what it allows them to now do, to grow their business. To invest in other areas, bring in other types of IoT technologies. How are you seeing that kind of I heard the granular, more granular level of data really, kind of perking up their ears and getting them excited for things like that.
– [David] Yeah, I suppose the biggest action that we first see is a degree of proactivity. And, again, we’re talking about the interesting niche of commercial refrigeration. But, as we know these are the major sales outlets for these particular big brands. So, when they see things like the compressor of a cooler, being overworked and the product temperature start to increase. They can be a little more proactive in terms of helping the storekeeper first up solve that problem. Sending him information around, is the cooler blocked? Have you got stock stacked around it, which is blocking the airflow into that cooler. Or so they can start to take proactive action first with the storekeeper directly saving the service call. And then, if they need to make a service call, we can give them some pretty strong direction about what is going wrong in that cooler. So, the technician can arrive with the parts that he needs to be able to do a one time fix on on that product. So, that’s a level of proactivity being able to give them alerts, firstly, about what’s going wrong in their fleet. And secondly, helping them make the right decision about what type of service and parts may be required to rectify the problem.
– [Ryan] So it’s a very multifaceted kind of value prop for these organizations, not just the tracking of. But it helps with the preventative and predictive maintenance. It helps really understand what’s happening to be more efficient on the support and technician side of things. It helps them get more . the control or the quality side as well. So, it either there are a lot of interesting touch points that the IoT technology really influences with any of these refrigeration units in the commercial space.
– [David] Yeah, exactly. And, it’s also driving adoption of always on connectivity. In a lot of the cases in the countries where the workforce is quite large and relatively inexpensive. And the workforce for our customer is offered in the stores working with customers directly. We use Bluetooth generally on their devices that runs in the background and just pulls the data out of the cooler room and sticks it into the cloud. This is no cost, extra cost with that solution.
– [David] And the customers are very cost conscious. Increasingly, because of the insights that they’re generating, many of these customers want the data more quickly. And many of them for their prime locations are turning to an always on solution where any alerts or issues with the refrigerator assets are notified immediately. So we’re starting to see that shift. So, it sort of means that the customers are now accepting the importance of IoT in these assets and, really getting behind it and saying, “Well we want this information now in real time.”
– [Ryan] Yep, makes a lot of sense. David this has been a fantastic conversation. This is, you know, whenever we’re able to dive into a particular area, particular kind of more niche focus rather than going super broad, I think our audience is a ton of value out of it. So I really appreciate you spending time kind of sharing your insights into the commercial refrigeration used space because I think it really is a good testament to what IoT is and what it’s trying to solve. So, thank you for sharing that. And, I wanted to make sure we had a second here to share with our audience where they can learn more about the company. Where they can ask any questions. Any follow up information, just kind of stay up to date on everything going on, on your end.
– [David] Yeah, absolutely. Well, thanks for the opportunity, Ryan. Our website is wdtl.com. Wellington Drive Technologies, and you’ll find all our information there. We’ve got a global team that’s ready to help anyone who’s got an interest.
– [Ryan] Fantastic, well David, thanks again so much for your time. This has been a great conversation. Appreciate you being here.
– [David] Thanks very much, Ryan. Have a great day.
– [Ryan] Thank you, you too. All right, everyone. Thanks again for watching that episode of the IoT For All Podcast. If you enjoyed the episode, please click the thumbs up button. subscribe to our channel and be sure to hit the bell notifications. So you get the latest episodes as soon as you become available. Other than that, thanks again for watching and we’ll see you next time.