Nando’s recently approached South African AV integration, lighting and control specialists Triac to realise their need for an innovative technology solution to enhance the dining experience and improve efficiencies at their restaurants in South Africa.

Triac was recognised at the recent Crestron EMEA Integration Awards, held in Amsterdam during Integrated Systems Europe 2019, for their creativity and unique application of Crestron technology for the restaurant chain.

If you have seen any Nando’s ads, you will know that the brand pulls no punches – is always innovative, always pushing the boundaries and at the cutting-edge. It must have been this approach that saw the meeting of minds between Nando’s and AV integration specialists Triac. Founded in 1987 in South Africa, the Portuguese-inspired food chain Nando’s now operates in over 1500 outlets in 25 countries. The international brand required a way to take casual dining to the next level at its multiple restaurants in South Africa, recognising that lighting and ambience can set the tone for a great dining experience. Triac, a lighting and control specialist based in Johannesburg, was tasked with implementing an intelligent control solution that would enhance the restaurant experience, improve efficiencies and promote easier management of these assets.

THINKING OUT OF THE BOX

The integrators at Triac designed a bespoke Crestron solution to manage lighting control, audio distribution and other peripherals across the new Nando’s flagship restaurant rollout, as the new brand standard. The client required an integrated solution that could be packaged in a simple and innovative way and which could easily be deployed across many locations countrywide. The ‘Black Box’ concept allowed Triac to design a bespoke solution that was robust, affordable, secure, easy for contractors to install and quick for Triac to deploy.

A key requirement was a system that could successfully control multiple LED light sources and offer a predictable lighting result every time. Crestron’s universal dimmer technology, which enables every output to be separately configured, allowed for the various LED load types to be matched. This resulted in smooth, full-range dimming across all the lighting zones, delivering great results in all instances – even in regions with inconsistent mains power supply – allowing for a warm and inviting atmosphere for diners, and ensuring that the restaurants are always comfortably set up for a great user experience.

The uniqueness of this solution is the combination of intelligent processing and cost-effective hardware, with a geographically autonomous communications layer wrapped into a powerful RMS cloud-based software solution.

CUSTOMISED CLEVERNESS

Every Nando’s restaurant has its own signature design, incorporating locally-crafted furniture, richly patterned and brightly coloured finishes and showcasing original artworks. For this reason, Triac delivered a bespoke lighting scheme to complement the interior and exterior design of every individual restaurant. A range of very specific light fixtures was selected with the correct warm colour temperature, deep, rich colour rendering and narrow beam angles to create interest and depth in the lighting design.

Automated lighting scenes – triggered at various times of the day, and automatically adjusting with the changing seasons – fade between morning, day and evening scenes, always ensuring a warm and inviting ambience. This system begins bright and early with the morning scene at 6 am, for cleaning and early preparation for the staff, while the vibrant day scene fades in at 10 am and then cross-fades into the intimate evening scene at sunset, with an auto-off setting at closing time leaving only security lighting on.

The audio system control benefits from the same concept of using pre-set scenes to respond to changing needs at different times of the day and night. The morning scene audio volume is elevated for the special show on the brand’s dedicated radio station, to prepare the staff and get them extra-motivated for the day ahead. The pre-set volume adjusts automatically through the day to the appropriate volume level for each of the various areas of the restaurant. This ensures that volume levels are always correct: elevated for the noisier serving and outside areas, and set against the mid-range for the more relaxed general seating areas. A wide variety of Crestron Sonas loudspeakers – including the in-ceiling range, surface-mount exterior speakers and pendants for high-ceilinged areas – were installed to deliver a great audio experience with well-balanced, high-quality sound.

AUTOMATED OPTIMISATION

One of the key requirements was for the system to be fully automated and not to require any intervention from staff or managers. This way, the system is used as it is intended and cannot be overridden or adjusted on a whim, ensuring that the restaurant’s atmosphere is always optimised and that its staff members are allowed to focus on their jobs.

Of great importance to Nando’s, and a big motivation for incorporating the integrated control system was the benefit of substantially reducing their energy usage. The dimming of LED lighting is directly proportional to energy saving.

Furthermore, it increases the life of the LED light exponentially by reducing the heat inside the LED, having a big impact on the maintenance and life expectancy of the LED fixture. Incorporating the control of other peripherals, such as the signage, further adds to these savings. Other devices and systems in the restaurant will be added to the system in the future, further enhancing the energy saving aspect.

Crestron’s RMS System, meanwhile, is a web-based platform that allows for real-time, remote monitoring of all individual systems integrated into the network.

This intelligent asset now presents the client with valuable information for asset planning and deployment, automation and control of all systems and devices, condition monitoring and preventative maintenance, warranty and operating performance metrics, sales and marketing intelligence and, of course, power consumption.

Sashi Ranjith, the owner of Nando’s Monte Casino, comments: “The system is awesome. As an experienced restaurateur, one of my biggest pain points was constantly having to manually manage multiples systems. The solution now takes care of this for us 24/7, so we can focus on looking after our patrons.”

AN AWARDED INSTALLATION

The collaboration with Triac has been extremely successful for Nando’s. Forty outlets are already equipped with the Crestron solution, with another fifty installations planned – highlighting how the technology and the integrator’s smart design, together, are delivering real benefits for the restaurant group.

In recognition of this outstanding project, integrators Triac were recently awarded the Most Unique Application (Commercial) prize at the Crestron EMEA Integration Awards 2019. The company was also a prize-winner in the Crestron Deployment Challenge at the 2019 ISE Conference held in Amsterdam in February.

Nando’s tasked us with designing a competent control solution with onboard automation and remote access to meet the growing demands of an innovative client. A Crestron system was the obvious choice, offering real-time monitoring and control. Providing modularity, the system allows for potential expansion in the future. We wanted a system that we could rely on to be robust and stable, factoring in the high demands of a busy restaurant environment – with the help of Crestron we have successfully been able to do this.”

– Ryan Ashford-Smit, managing partner at Triac