SCHOTT solutions no. 1/2014 > Glass Door Systems

SCHOTT Thermofrost
A clear view and easy access to refrigerated food products – SCHOTT Termofrost® Smart Access scores points by offering the convenience of open shelves and the energy efficiency of closed refrigeration cabinets. Photo: SCHOTT/A. Stephan

Magical Shopping Experience

The glass refrigerator doors at select REWE grocery stores in Germany now open without being touched, as if by magic, for the first time ever. The world debut of SCHOTT Termofrost® Smart Access developed in partnership and initiated by SCHOTT sets the stage for refrigerated foods in an exciting way and creates new buying impulses.

Thilo Horvatitsch

Apleasant ”Aha!” experience can be observed ever more often these days when customers take food out of the refrigerator at the REWE market on Pariser Strasse in Frankfurt/Main, Germany. The handle that customers once used to open the glass doors has now been replaced by a mere symbol. As soon as a customer moves his hand toward it, the door silently slides open before it is even touched. This new buying experience is still a rarity. Of all the world’s stores, only a couple of REWE stores in Germany currently feature this innovative, sensor-controlled door function. The complete system consisting of the refrigerator unit, doors, sensor and control technology, as well as LED lighting, has been given the name SCHOTT Termofrost® Smart Access and is a joint project between SCHOTT and several other development partners. ”We wanted to turn shopping for refrigerated products into an intuitive, visual and exciting experience,” says Michael Lammel, one of SCHOTT’s partners and co-owner of the renowned German design agency Noa, in describing the vision behind this product.
SCHOTT Thermofrost
Photo: SCHOTT/A. Stephan
It also follows key industry trends: rapid technological change, the growing popularity of online purchasing, the growing trend of creating shopping experiences and service-orientation have an increased impact on people’s buying habits. These factors now demand greater creativity and openness to innovation from the brick and mortar retail trade. Setting the stage for products and integrating technology and design into the design of the store is becoming increasingly important. According to leading industry organizations, the German food trade invested 800 million euros in shop fittings for new stores in 2013, 37 percent more than in 2009, a clear indication of the need for store design to be creative and innovative.
SCHOTT Thermofrost
The opening and safety sensors located above the doors monitor an activity zone that can be set precisely. It is therefore virtually impossible to open the door by accident. ”Smart Access” offers two operating modes: automatic opening and closing, but also ”stay open” mode that allows for easy shelf filling. Photo: SCHOTT/A. Stephan
REWE Group’s decision in favor of the innovative "Smart Access" project is of significant strategic importance against this backdrop. After all, the automatic doors meet the current demands of both customers and food retailers alike. Thus, the opening and security sensors above the doors precisely monitor an activity zone. This basically rules out unintentional activation of the automatic opening and closing mechanism. Automatic opening is also more convenient and more hygienic than using the manual door function because the customer always has both hands free to pick up food products. Nevertheless, this isn’t the only aspect that offers greater freedom, similar to that of open shelves. The glass doors swing into the cabinet and do not protrude out into the aisle. The special design also prevents open doors from blocking space for shopping carts, strollers and walkers. The customer has direct access to the products in his immediate vicinity. The frameless, transparent, and thus high-quality presentation of products behind CONTURAN® glass, which is virtually invisible thanks to its anti-reflective coating, is yet another advantage.

Customers of all ages have welcomed this new approach from the start at REWE’s test stores. The employees are also quite pleased with it because a special operating mode holds the doors open. This makes it much easier to fill or clean the refrigerators. Thanks to the glass doors, "SmartAccess" can also lower energy consumption by up to 60 percent compared with open refrigerator units and thus supports the trend toward greater sustainability in retail.

”'SmartAccess' offers a solution for presenting food products in a future-oriented and responsible manner. The system meets important customer and market needs, presents products attractively and contributes to higher sales by offering more convenient access,” explains Dietmar Nilles, Sales Manager at SCHOTT Termofrost, responsible for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. These are also convincing reasons for REWE Group; the company will decide on whether to equip other stores after the test phase has been completed. <
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