Smart sensor technology use is rapidly increasing. They can monitor conditions in various industries, supporting efficiency, sustainability, waste reduction, and environmental management. For the grocery sector, the latent benefits are obvious. Sensors can eliminate the need for manual checks, detect early equipment failure, and enhance sustainability. They also improve cost management by reducing food waste and the risk of unbudgeted expenses. But that’s only scratching the surface of the conceivable ways in which smart sensors can bring efficiency to the grocery industry. There are multiple other ways that they can enhance, and provide transparency, to the way in which businesses understand and approach their food storage and management, writes Bengt Johannes Lundberg, CEO of Disruptive Technologies.
How can smart sensors be used in temperature monitoring?
Smart sensor technology allows for the simple and effective monitoring of food storage temperature. Removing the need for time-consuming manual inspections, the sensors can be installed in fridges, freezers and cold rooms, providing real-time data that can be used to optimise food management. This not only guarantees the condition of the food storage environment and the food within it but also helps to save costs associated with maintenance and food loss.
Once in place, the sensors continuously track temperature, and the results are sent wirelessly to a cloud-based system so managers can analyse them, and act quickly if any changes are required. These results provide a crucial insight into food storage and any adjustments required to improve the condition to reduce waste and meet industry compliance standards.
The beauty of sensor use is that they can be integrated with work order management systems. When an alert is triggered because of a temperature fluctuation, the right person will receive an immediate instruction about action required, avoiding possible damage and waste. This not only saves time but addresses the many limitations of manual checking. From human error to logistics – while manual checking works up to a point, it is not logistically possible or reasonable for teams to be consistently vigilant. Whereas smart sensors can provide an immediate alert in the event of an out-of-hours power outage, with manual checking such an event may be missed for hours, leading to significant waste.
Benefits of smart sensor technology for businesses
As well as the waste and cost reduction benefits, smart sensor technology offers grocers a range of advantages. By removing the need for manual checks, you can free human resources for deployment elsewhere.
Smart sensor technology can also support predictive maintenance, with cloud-based reporting, smart sensors can pick up on trends that indicate equipment deterioration e.g. when equipment performance anomalies first begin to show and alerts will automatically notify the user of temperature problems long before the storage unit is affected to the point that food waste will occur. This provides more effective maintenance and management of the storage and extends the lifespan of equipment, and the food within it. And with refrigeration accounting for 33% of the repair and maintenance spend in grocery stores and supermarkets in the US, that opens the door to significant cost savings. Especially when you take into account emergency repairs, unscheduled downtime, and related product shrinkage. Effectively monitoring and managing food storage systems can also have a positive impact on sustainability, as a direct result of food waste reduction. Smart sensor technology is also a more cost-effective approach to refrigeration equipment monitoring, supporting sustainable practices, which is a driving force of the 21st-century business landscape and a huge priority for many consumers when choosing where to buy goods.
Sensors can be used in other ways by grocery stores too. With a wireless water sensor, for example, you can protect your building – infrastructure and contents – from leaks and water damage. Early detection allows for early repair and reduced costs. Efficiency and service can both be improved through the integration of IoT inventory management and sensors with feedback buttons. And then, of course, we have the issue of regulatory compliance.
How can smart sensor technology help businesses to reduce food waste and comply with food hygiene regulations?
Compliance with stringent regulatory standards, such as the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point regulations, is incredibly important in food retail. With IoT sensors, grocery stores can maintain an absolute audit trail or temperature data, equipment maintenance, and system failures. While the automated creation and distribution of reports will save store managers valuable time and effort. The temperature sensors can also come with a data backfill function, which stores up to 100,000 temperature records offline if the connection to the cloud is lost, this is important for compliance logging and documentation.
As previously mentioned, when there is a power outage or other failure, the sensors can alert managers, providing the opportunity to address any potential issues before food is spoiled and equipment is further damaged.
Can smart sensor technology drive business success?
In short, yes. Smart sensor technology reduces the need for manual checks, provides accurate reporting on conditions, minimises the risk of stock disruption, and supports business sustainability. What’s more, the sensors from Disruptive Technologies are small, unobtrusive and ready to connect out of the box. The peel-and-stick feature means that they can be set up with ease, almost anywhere, without the need for wiring, legacy infrastructure disruption, or even technical know-how.
These efficient and long-lasting smart sensors, boast a remarkable battery life of up to 15 years in extreme temperatures and collect data for a range of metrics including temperature, humidity, water, and door activity helping businesses to create optimum food management and storage solutions.
Easy to scale, these sensors can be used in a variety of storage environments – even in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius (-40 Fahrenheit) – and are well-suited to cater to the needs of businesses of all sizes.
Smart sensor technology plays an important role in food storage and management for businesses, they’re about helping businesses to create the optimum conditions while reducing the need for inefficient and costly manual checks. Not only can smart sensors help businesses to manage current food storage environments but also take steps to avoid equipment failures and spoiled foods, while enhancing their sustainability without spiralling costs.