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Waste not, want not
Kevin Mack, president of Infinit Systems, reveals how stadium owners and operators can save money and energy by reducing beer wastage at their venues – using a new technology that will be debuting at this year's Stadia Design & Technology Expo
What services does your company offer to the industry?
Infinit Systems is a manufacturer, product developer and expert problem solver with concentration in the stadia and arena industry. We encourage owners, operators and managers to bring us the operational challenges they encounter at their facilities. We’ll work closely with them to find solutions. Products we currently offer as a result of industry feedback are: the industry’s only all aluminium beverage piping system (also known as beverage conduit and beverage chase systems); modern, legless underbar equipment; single and double depth aluminium keg/storage racks – and our newest product, Cold-Core™ Insulated Beverage Piping Systems; an industry first and a vast improvement over expensive outdated trunk lines.
Our support services include: consulting, complete in-house design and engineering, installation, and project management.
Could you tell us an interesting fact about your company?
Infinit System isn’t just in the business of manufacturing equipment. We focus on solving problems and helping facilities run smoother by creating products engineered to perform better and cost less than the alternatives. At one time or another, I think we’ve all used a product, equipment or system that fell far short of our expectations. The team at Infinit Systems continually monitors the industry looking for those products. They thoroughly research how they’re being used, identify their shortcomings in design and function and then create a solution. Every product we offer solves a significant problem caused by competing products.
What trends do you see emerging in your particular sector of the stadium industry?
I recently read an article about a new stadium here in the States that uses roughly 25 billion watts of power a year; equivalent to the entire city of Santa Monica, California – population 88,000. Solar panels and LED lighting are just the beginning of the green movement for stadia. Once we dig deeper and start realising how many areas there are to conserve energy, we’ll see it being adopted in all sectors of the industry. That’s good news for stadia because there are enough opportunities to save them millions of dollars a year. We’ve already looked into the remote beer systems, which is why we’ll be highlighting our latest product at this year’s show. Beer systems can use over 1 billion watts of power, annually! There’s definitely an opportunity there and we’ve taken a big first step toward reducing that power requirement.
Can you tell us about a recent success story for your company?
Beer waste runs rampant in stadia. So much so, that the new Cowboys Stadium in Texas didn’t initially install draft beer systems. They made a big statement with that decision and brought attention to the issues with draft beer service in our industry. Consequently, they also proved packaged beer was an even bigger problem.
Modern stadia employ some of today’s latest technology, but still use beer systems that haven’t seen a major improvement since remote dispensing caught on nearly 40 years ago. We thought it was time for an upgrade. Through exhaustive research, development and testing, we’ve created a real solution to a long standing problem. Cold-Core™, our patent pending insulated beverage piping system, is the biggest improvement to long draw beer systems in the last three decades. We don’t think it will just be a success story for us, but for the entire industry.
What are the biggest challenges you’re facing in your particular sector of the industry – and how are you overcoming them?
Getting the word out about a product that can save stadia millions of dollars should be easy, but we’re finding it to be quite challenging. As a manufacturer, the traditional route to a stadium manager is through several echelons of people and companies. It’s a convoluted path to begin with, but throw in a product that replaces one people have been making absurd profits from and that path becomes impassable. “Great product. Very impressive results, but we make too much money on trunk lines,” seems to be the standard response. That practice may create a small challenge for us, but it creates a huge one for managers and operators trying to improve their facilities.
By exhibiting at Stadia Technology & Design Expo, we’re hoping to bypass that roadblock and get information to the people that are actually going to use and benefit from our product. We think stadium managers and operators will appreciate us going the extra mile to save them millions.
What new technologies or strategies have you used in any recent projects?
We’re debuting our latest product at Stadia Technology & Design Expo 2012. Cold-Core™ is hot off the press! It uses technology found in deepsea oil pipelines and has been in development for over two years. It’s gone through batteries of tests that have shown vast improvements over the industry’s best trunk lines. It insulates up to 395% better, significantly reducing both energy and beer waste through superior temperature control. Insulating properties remain constant indefinitely, compared to trunk lines that begin to degrade immediately. Eliminating bulky trunk lines reduces shipping costs up to 80%. Trunk line replacement costs for a stadium can approach US$1 million and is recommended every 10 years. Cold-Core™ can reduce that cost up to 80%. We’re even making special concessions for existing venues. With a comprehensive phasing plan, we can retrofit a facility using their current beer system equipment and beverage conduit, giving them access to the latest technology as well.
What’s your favourite stadium/sports venue and why?
Even though it’s no longer standing, I’m going to have to say old Tiger Stadium in Detroit. My family has been here in Southeast Michigan for four generations. It would be five if my poor mother had gotten the grandkids she was hoping for, but I digress. I still have memories from my childhood, scaling the steep concrete steps like a cliff face, only to reach what surely had to be the most uncomfortable seat every made – but as soon as you’d hear the crack of that bat echo through the stands and see thousands of fans jump to their feet in unison, you’d forget all about the lack of amenities. Tiger Stadium has since faced the wrecking ball and been replaced by state of the art Comerica Park. Much nicer seats that don’t require a climbing harness to get to. Progress and technology are inevitable, both of which I embrace wholeheartedly, but amidst all the modern conveniences, glitz and glamour, there still exists fond memories of a simpler time.
Where do you see the stadium market in 10 years’ time?
Stadia keep getting bigger and more elaborate, and occupy a tremendous amount of real estate. With price tags as high as US$1 billion, it’s getting increasingly difficult to win communities over, not to mention environmental groups – but a lot of effort is going into changing that. Shows like Stadia Technology & Design Expo and organisations like Green Sports Alliance go a long way in raising environmental awareness and introducing new technology. Architectural firms are doing a great job integrating stadias into the communities by incorporating business, retail and residential space. Companies that offer renewable energy or energy conservation products are spending a lot of time and money developing new technologies, making them more available and more affordable. I believe if the sports organisations and developers continue embracing new ideas and technologies that focus on improving the communities and enhancing the fans’ experience, stadia will have a bright future both domestically and abroad.
Infinit Systems will be exhibiting at Stadia Design & Technology Expo 2012, 8 -10 May 2012. Visit the company at Booth 4053