IoT Keeps Food Safe for Restaurants and Retailers

Karen St. George, VP Marketing
07/26/2018

Refrigeration units play an important role in a wide array of retail businesses, including restaurants, grocery stores, and department stores. Retail professionals know the importance of keeping refrigeration units up-and-running, as a failure can cause a number of foodborne illnesses, disrupt inventory levels, and harm profitability. However, refrigerators can exhibit symptoms of failure long before they completely stop running and create an emergency scenario. One such situation is temperature fluctuation.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines recommend that refrigerators should be kept at 40° F (4° C) or below, and that freezers must remain at or below 0° F (-18° C) to keep food safe. When temperatures exceed recommended levels for extended periods, foods become vulnerable to microorganisms such as Salmonella, E. coli, and C. botulinum.

IoT enables retail managers to recognize refrigeration early-warning indicators well in advance, enabling maintenance professionals to conduct repairs and prevent failures before issues escalate. IoT sensors can observe technical performance of refrigerator control boards and monitor KPIs such as discharge pressure and suction pressure (uncommonly high pressure can signal poor fan performance, refrigerant charging issues, or a condenser coil in need of cleaning). IoT sensors can also detect leaks and electrical surges that lead to improper temperature levels and impending shut-downs.

Beyond equipment failures, refrigerated food is at great risk during power outages. While power outages also bring WiFi networks down, retailers can guarantee an always-on connection to refrigerator performance through managed cellular connectivity. Cellular-based IoT sensors enable store managers to monitor temperatures during these critical times, allowing them to make strategic decisions. Retailers can also use IoT data to monitor day-to-day power consumption and align it with inventory levels and external temperature levels to create power savings strategies.

Utilizing IoT sensor data and cellular connectivity, retail managers can avoid refrigerator downtime by monitoring equipment conditions on a regular basis, recognizing warning signs, and servicing equipment before it fails. Through this combination of IoT, data, and retail expertise, store managers can virtually eliminate costly and dangerous problems.

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