Interview with Ulrich Hieber, Divisional Manager Retail at Toshiba Tec
Point-of-sale terminals without fans and Digital Signage without a player – those were some of the new presentations by Toshiba Tec at the last EuroShop. Retailers can save energy with these solutions. What’s more, former NCR director Ulrich Hieber sees Toshiba already well on its way in conserving resources during the production process. He also views a longer equipment life cycle with replacement parts that are available for a long time as a contribution to the subject of Green IT.
What has to change in IT for it to turn into Green IT?
For changes to happen, market participants always need to reap a benefit from it. That’s why by no means will we achieve a Green IT by somebody just flipping a switch. In fact, what’s important are concepts for environmentally friendly action, that tie many individual activities sensibly together and thus lead to significant, economic advantages. This does not just include IT solutions that lower operating expenses, since they consume less energy or consumable material like paper. By now, innovative IT solutions can also for instance contribute to reduce food waste and thus conserve the natural resources as well as simultaneously reduce the write-offs of retailers.
Keyword energy saving: Which power consumption reduction was achieved in the past 10 to 20 years?
In the previous years most notably requirements for the performance of point-of-sale systems have increased, which now for instance can be monitored online from afar and oftentimes eliminate having to call a repair technician.
Given the same amount of electric power consumption, this would therefore already represent a considerable increase in energy sufficiency. Despite the improved performance with each one of our new models we bring on the market, our terminals also require less energy than the respective predecessor model. For example, the current Toshiba WILLPOS B20 and A20 terminals consume almost a mere half of the energy their predecessor models did.
What do you expect in the next 5 years – for point-of-sales systems, printers and in the digital signage sector?
The digital signage sector is a good example. In this area, we currently offer a solution that gets by without the traditional player hardware. Less hardware of course primarily means less cost and also less service expenses and in the end result this solution also requires less energy. In terms of energy efficiency, ventilation plays an essential role for point-of-sale systems. With our new, compact terminal, which we introduced at this year’s EuroShop, retail and food service get a point-of-sale system that actually gets by without a ventilator and thus uses little power. All of these improvements achieved so far towards more sustainability are the result of a continuous innovation process, which certainly still has a lot of potential for further modifications, even if those are not yet foreseeable today.
Green IT also means using resources during the production process sparingly. What exactly can manufacturers do so their products are manufactured with less expense to the environment?
To just pay attention to sustainability in the operation of IT solutions, is indeed inadequate, since looking at the entire product life cycle, approximately 80 percent of energy consumption are incurred in the production process. That’s why at Toshiba Tec all aspects from the development and logistics all the way to proper product disposal are being analyzed with regard to consumption of energy, water and chemical substances as well as other materials and continuous improvements are being sought after. For example, we use reusable metals free from chromium as well as halogen free synthetic materials and we package our products in recyclable outer packaging. The products meet the demands of the RoHS guidelines; old equipment is being collected and recycled under the WEEE Directives.
How has the life cycle of today’s point-of-sale system changed during the course of the past 10 to 20 years? Are items more quickly replaced and discarded, because progress is made ever faster?
Since the manufacturing of new equipment requires lots of energy, water and other natural resources, a long product life cycle significantly contributes to environmental protection. By choosing robust, reliable point-of-sale systems, users can make an important contribution to the environment. Our customers pay very close attention for new systems to also have sufficient capacity for upgrades so that during the implementation of new applications, protection of investment into the hardware is ensured. As manufacturers we contribute our share by for instance stockpiling replacement parts for up to seven years after production stop to make a long period of application possible. We can guarantee a long life cycle for our products, because we also manufacture all components for our systems. Sometimes we are even surprised ourselves if we see one of our older models at a customer, which apparently still works smoothly.
How environmentally conscious are retailers when they purchase IT– in Germany, Europe and overseas?
The difference between German retailers and retailers in other countries isn’t that some act more and others less environmentally conscious. In conversations with German retailers I often hear that it goes without saying for them to implement environmentally conscious solutions as much as possible. In contrast, in Great Britain many companies refer to their commitment to the environment also in their external presentation and thus make strategic use of this for their benefit.
How can retail with modern IT in its range of products conserve the environment?
Large amounts of natural resources are needed for manufacturing and transportation of food. That’s why their sale doesn’t just result in total revenue, but decreased write-offs also mean a responsible handling of these resources. With modern IT solutions such as intelligent digital signage, sales can be increased before groceries have to be disposed due to reduced quality or them reaching their expiration date. If at a certain point in time too many items of a specific product are still on the shelf, they can for instance be especially advertised by flashing the price; and in another step the price can then also be reduced.
How was the topic of Green IT presented at your last trade fair presentation at the EuroShop?
From a distance all visitors to our trade fair booth could see the poster with the green eye, which points to our commitment and obligation to protect our environment. We showed this more palpably with our new products such as the already mentioned fan-less POS system as well as the new label printer, which prints on both sides of the label and therefore uses less paper. In addition, at their own trade fair booth the Toshiba Tec Division for Lighting Systems presented innovative solutions for lighting with LED.
Interview: René Schellbach, EuroShop.de