If your food business stores frozen or chilled products, a refrigerator temperature monitoring system makes sense on many levels… Saving staff time, maintaining compliance and providing an early warning of technical faults. But what are the key considerations when selecting a solution?
Would you rather your frontline staff were carrying around clipboards or conversing with customers? With rising costs, labour shortages and tight margins, it seems sensible to embrace some degree of automation. And automated temperature monitoring is a great place to start.
But what are the essential questions that buyers should be asking?
What data will this refrigerator temperature monitoring system produce?
A good refrigerator temperature monitoring system should provide a constant stream of real-time data on a 24/7 basis. This enables live alerts as soon as agreed temperature parameters are breached and the ability to track long-term trends. For example, is there a particular fridge door frequently left open? Is there a freezer that is struggling to maintain a consistent temperature?
What managers need is an end-to-end solution with a single pane of glass. The view can be enhanced by incorporating data from digital workflows, including the human activity essential to efficient operations in kitchens, retail stores, or other food outlets. A single dashboard shows not only the performance of fridges and freezers, as well as hot-hold units but the routine activity of frontline staff. For example, managers could see how quickly a fault was addressed, and by whom.
Centralising visibility empowers management teams around critical priorities, including compliance, maintenance, efficiency and asset performance.
An intelligent operations platform that brings together sensor-driven data and human workflows shortens the gap between insight and impact, ensuring prompt action to generate real value. It’s a question of how quickly data can be accessed and actioned.
How does this monitoring system handle alerts?
The alerts triggered by a refrigerator temperature monitoring system are among the most important aspects of any solution. A good system will enable managers to assign specific people and channels of communication, whether email, SMS or dashboard notification. A call centre system where appointed staff members receive a direct phone call can also be effective in some busy environments.
It's important to think about the best person or people to receive alerts. It may vary depending on location and time of day - or night. The priority is to make sure an alert is closed down quickly and effectively.
Directing all alerts to managers might slow down the process of correcting a fault. Reporting chains get too long, especially in large, distributed, multi-site businesses. What if emails are missed, mobile phones are switched off or the named recipient is on leave?
We frequently hear of managers running off to an office to check a PC or touring the building to find the source of the problem. Mobile alerting provides a powerful solution – sending alerts directly to the mobile devices of nearby workers, along with step-by-step guidance on diagnosing and dealing with the problem. The result is faster remediation and a digital record of when, where, how, and by whom the issue was rectified.
One business using Checkit's system reported 10x faster response times when faults were identified. Managers also spent 40% less time travelling to sites and combing through paperwork for auditing purposes. Data-driven decision-making also enabled the business to pinpoint areas for improvement and update processes accordingly.
Is this refrigerator temperature monitoring system easy to use?
Ease-of-use is one of the crucial considerations in finding a temperature monitoring solution that will fulfil its promise. Simple, user-friendly interfaces, customisable dashboards and minimal training help to ensure a system is used to its full potential by both frontline workers and remote managers.
Encouraging adoption is vital in any technology deployment. In some cases, workers will have historically used pen-and-paper to perform regular temperature checks. They will now need to embrace a digital solution, so it must be user-friendly.
How quickly will this refrigerator temperature monitoring system be up-and-running?
Buyers should seek out a refrigerator temperature monitoring system that is fast and easy to set up. The best systems are smart enough to skip complex IT involvement and coding. Checkit’s wireless monitoring system, for example, can be up-and-running in as little as 24 hours, as long as there is a network connection. And with minimal training, the platform can be quickly picked up by workers.
Customers see value being delivered back in as little as five days. In a typical venue with up to 10 fridges and freezers, three manual checks can take up to 90 minutes a day. So, there’s a significant time saving of up to 10 hours a week to be gained with a refrigerator temperature monitoring system.
There are other savings too. An automated monitoring system helps to pinpoint inefficient appliances, reduces the risk of food waste due to temperature variation and digitises compliance reporting to provide evidence of high standards.
In larger organisations, it’s often a good idea to trial the solution with a pilot project in a particular part of the business. This helps establish a clear business case based on demonstrable, real-world metrics so that the system can be rolled out more widely with internal champions supporting the project.
Customer support is another critical consideration. A supplier that provides access to people who can help will always drive smoother and more personalised onboarding than one with an automated support system. It means teams from different locations can always get the advice they need to maintain continuity.
CAPEX v OPEX: What is the best payment model?
Historically, refrigerator temperature monitoring systems arrived with an upfront cost. But the CAPEX model is gradually being replaced by OPEX options that spread the cost out month-by-month. As in many other sectors, subscription models are coming to the fore. They limit the initial outlay and enable faster delivery of ROI.
However, the devil is always in the detail. Buyers should pay special attention to key areas such as warranties. Having a warranty for hardware ensures technical problems can be resolved rapidly to minimise disruption to the work of frontline teams and broader business services. Buyers should also look out for hidden costs in terms and conditions, such as extra charges for battery replacements and sensor swap-outs.
The ’peace-of-mind’ approach championed by Checkit irons out any concerns about hidden costs by setting out a precise payment plan and agreed deliverables.
Another advantage of Checkit’s solution is that by adopting a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, updates and added functionality are delivered over the subscription to maximise value.
Ready to learn more?
- How to maximise ROI from an IoT sensor implementation
- Find out how this hospitality business saved 20,000 hours of staff time with an automated monitoring system
Photo by Eduardo Soares on Unsplash