Sainsbury's has signed an extended multi-million pound point-of-sale managed services contract with NCR.

The five-year deal will see Sainsbury's deploy NCR Predictive Services on its point-of-sale (POS) and self-checkout lanes, ensuring more devices are working in stores at peak times and "saving tens of thousands of hours in downtime", said Sainbury's.

Sainsbury's is the first UK retailer to sign up for NCR Predictive Services, which is technology designed to predict and address IT issues quickly before they happen, instead of fixing POS and self-checkout terminals after they break down.

The deployment is part of a managed services renewal that will also see NCR provide helpdesk and multi-vendor support across 1,000 stores and 23 depots through a remote operations centre.

NCR currently provides managed service support for Sainsbury's NCR point-of-sale, self-checkout and kiosks systems, printers and peripherals. The new agreement covers helpdesk and services for Sainsbury's POS software, voice and data networks, including its servers, wireless and fixed network, PCs, laptops, software, printers and VoIP telephones.

"Consolidating our managed services enables us to drive greater efficiencies that support our growth plans," said Rob Fraser, Sainsbury's IT Director. The supermarket chain has had a strategic relationship with NCR for the last ten years.

NCR Predictive Services works through a software agent on each NCR device, which gathers a wide variety of operational data. This data is then analysed by NCR business intelligence software and processes that use an NCR Services data warehouse. The warehouse maintains operational data from more than 2 million consumer points of service and 12 million annual service actions globally.

From this analysis NCR makes recommendations for preventive action on devices and modules that are end-of-life or likely to fail imminently. For example, the NCR software can identify that a cooling fan in a POS terminal is running slower than it should be.

It would also highlight the fact that terminals with this operating condition statistically fail within a certain time period, and an NCR customer engineer can be automatically dispatched to change the part at a minimally disruptive time, before the defect causes failure.

For service actions that do not require an on-site visit, such as firmware updates, a remote service session can be established.

Sainsbury's rival Tesco has just signeda deal with Retalix to update all its POS terminals across 4,000 stores globally with the latest processing and management software.