Greening Your POS

By Lisa Terry, Contributing Editor | February 14, 2011

LEED-certified buildings, recycled paper goods, energy management — all are grabbing green headlines in hospitality. Yet there is one area that is getting less attention: the point-of-sale. Although POS technology is traditionally associated with energy-consumption rather than energy-conservation, there are a number of steps and solutions on the market today that can help hospitality organizations to conserve both cash and natural resources. In fact, Energy Star reports that a modest 10% decrease in energy costs has an impact on operating income equal to a 1.26% increase in sales for the average store. Cutting power consumption lowers electrical bills and reduces heat dissipation. This helps to improve overall system reliability because a cooler operating environment typically increases system stability and extends equipment lifetimes, according to Posiflex (www.posiflex.com).

Taking care with POS selection can go hand-in-hand with a green strategy. For example, Eat’n Park (www.eatnpark.com), an anchor food service company headquartered in Pittsburgh, carries its green commitment from energy use and paper goods, to its use of lower-power-consuming POS equipment, says Rich Liebscher, VP of information technology at Eat’n Park. “We selected the MICROS WS5 for its increased security and reliability afforded by its design, which has no hard drive and includes an OEM embedded operating system.” MICROS (www.micros.com) WS5’s use of flash memory and passive cooling reduces the risk of costly mechanical failures and improves system reliability and uptime.

“The Micros WS5 deployment is just one example of our commitment to make sure sustainability is incorporated into information technology decisions,” adds Liebscher. “Other examples include our use of thin clients at our corporate headquarters as well as ensuring we are partnering with a DEP permitted e-Waste company for disposal of used equipment. We take the entire product lifecycle into account, not just the initial purchase,” he says.

Similarly, Sheetz (www.sheetz.com), which operates more than 365 stores throughout six states, chose Epson (http://pos.epson.com) receipt printers due to “a ‘recycle/rebate’ program to properly dispose of our old printers, an Energy Star rating to save on electricity usage, and a savings of approximately 40 percent on our paper costs (and waste) by reducing the size of our printed receipts with their vertical compression technology that did not require changes to our POS system,” says Mark Michrina, Sheetz’ senior analyst. “Feedback from our stores has been very positive.”

What options do operators have when looking to reduce their POS’ carbon footprint? Here are just a few of the latest hardware advancements and best practices.

Select energy-efficient processors. NCR’s (www.ncr.com) RealPOS 70XRT POS workstation, for example, uses up to 50 percent less energy with its Intel Core 2 Duo processors than the Intel Pentium 4 processors in the previous version. That adds up to an estimated cost savings of $150.90 over five years, assuming 10.06 cents per KWh. Epson says its TM-T88IV and TM-T88V consume significantly less energy (68 to 89 percent fewer kilowatt hours) than same-class competitive models, and reduce paper usage by 25 percent or more.

Avoid fans. Fan-free POS terminals came onto the market in 2006. Posiflex says its fan-free KS-6215 POS terminal saves $164 in energy expense in one year compared with a typical fan-cooled POS terminal.

Look at power supplies. Many power supplies are only 50 to 60 percent efficient when the system is idle or lightly loaded. More efficient power supplies generate less heat output, which increases system reliability and minimizes the need for loud, high RPM cooling fans, according to NCR. For example, Wincor-Nixdorf’s (www.wincor-nixdorf.com) BEETLE POS terminals are equipped with 80 PLUS power supplies with an 80 percent efficiency rate, up to one-third better than that of conventional power supplies, in addition to using various power-saving modes and powering peripherals from the system. Citizen Systems’ (http://citizen-systems.com) printer power supplies are Energy Star and California Energy Commission Compliant.

Look for sustainable manufacturing practices, including packaging. Many or even all components of a POS can be composed of recycled material and may also be recyclable. IBM (www.ibm.com/products/retail), for example, says its SurePOS 300 is manufactured with plastics and metal parts that are totally recyclable. European Commission authorities are developing a set of guidelines for Energy Using Products; to comply, manufacturers are moving to LED backlight panels for touchscreens, eliminating mercury contained in cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs), as well as non–halogen printed circuit board coatings, according to Posiflex. The standard will also address power consumption in suspend mode.

Citizens’ packaging is made from recycled products and is recyclable. Logic Controls (www.logiccontrols.com) says its low-power-consuming PCs use reduced packaging to allow more items per truck, lowering costs as well as unnecessary fuel consumption.

Set monitors to use sleep mode. IBM uses a deep sleep mode in the SurePOS 300 and other models, asserting it can reduce energy consumption by 47 percent. The system gets up and running faster and more reliably from sleep mode than it would if it were powered down. Squirrel Systems’ (www.squirrelsystems.com) POS units can automatically power-off the system at closing and then power on at pre-scheduled times to assist customers with further energy savings.

Look for credentials. Many manufacturers have complied with RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive) requirements to sell in Europe. RoHS bans the marketing of new electrical and electronic equipment containing more than the agreed upon levels of six toxic materials.

The EPA and U.S. Department of Energy have taken the first step toward an Energy Star rating for POS equipment by conducting a Scoping Report, but currently have no plans to proceed with a specific set of POS standards. But Energy Star does apply to uninterruptible power systems, displays, and a wide range of computers including servers; this is a standard that some POS vendors use. For example, Panasonic’s (www.panasonic.com/business) Lite-ray POS Workstation and PAR’s (www.partech.com) EverServ 6000 POS terminals are among POS terminals earning an Energy Star qualification.

Buy sustainable energy credits. Consider buying renewable energy certificates to support use of wind, solar or water-based power generation, suggests Jennifer Fleck, spokesperson for the Green Restaurant Association. One place to start: www.sterlingplanet.com.

Minimize paper use and use recycled paper. Strategies include sending orders to the kitchen via low-power monitors to avoid printing tickets and using mobile device coupons and electronic receipts.

Deploy mobile or wireless POS. Mobile terminal makers such as Motorola (www.motorolasolutions.com/US-EN) must design for energy efficiency to make their products last an eight-hour shift despite resource-intensive components such as touchscreens and radios, so their energy consumption is comparatively lower than a stationary POS terminal. As even stationary terminals go wireless to improve flexibility, their design could take a page from mobile terminals’ books.

Reuse/recycle. Fujitsu’s (www.fujitsu.com) FP510 receipt printer is designed with reduce/reuse/recycle in mind and is part of the company’s “Super Green Product” designation for products with the highest energy efficiency and non-use of hazardous substances. Epson, Motorola and Verifone (www.verifone.com) are among vendors offering end-of-life waste management programs.
 
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