The internet of things (IoT) is transforming warehouse, delivery, and in-store foodservice operations. IoT solutions are based on the connection of physical devices to the internet which expands data collection, analysis, and sharing capabilities. In the foodservice industry, IoT solutions can boost operational efficiency with increased data and enhance customer experience by allowing employees to spend less time managing inventory and more time on customer-facing activities. As businesses recognize these opportunities, IoT and traceability solutions in the food and beverage manufacturing industry are growing rapidly – at a predicted compound annual growth rate of 9.2% through 2029.
Common use cases for IoT in foodservice include improving quality control measures and cost management. In terms of food quality and safety, IoT solutions are commonly used to decrease the risk of foodborne illness for customers. For cost management, a ‘connected kitchen’– one that has embraced automation where possible – is predicted to save at least 15% in operational costs. One IoT application that helps businesses serve quality food products while achieving cost reduction is remote temperature monitoring (RTM).
In this blog we will dig deeper into the applications of remote temperature monitoring for foodservice businesses. We discuss the benefits of RTM in enhancing operator oversight, and reducing overhead costs while increasing food safety and security, among other advantages of this food safety software.
Food safety is one of the main reasons restaurants implement remote temperature monitoring. There are many scenarios where food temperatures could easily rise to the “danger zone” – where bacteria quickly multiplies. Appliance malfunction, power outage, and accidental mishandling of appliances by staff could all lead to a situation where food becomes unsafe to consume and large amounts of inventory are lost. Remote temperature monitoring systems combat this risk by improving operator oversight of food storage conditions. RTM systems provide real-time temperature measurements, and automatically record these to a restaurant’s temperature log, where compliance is tracked.
In the U.S., foodborne illness affects approximately one in six people annually. Unfortunately, even though it is common, this ailment is extremely detrimental to consumer health and to a brand’s reputation. In one study, 60% of foodservice customers said that they would never return to a restaurant where they have contracted a foodborne illness. To avoid this critical error, it is necessary to ensure the accuracy of temperature recordings in food storage units. Known issues of pencil whipping – when employees quickly “whip” the pencil across a checklist in rapid fashion, indicating they haven’t actually taken the time to ensure the tasks are completed, and dry labbing – when an employee guesses a number they’re supposed to measure and record, incentivize restaurants to seek food safety software solutions, rather than rely on human discretion.
Cost management is also a driver for remote temperature monitoring. Restaurants in all stages of business growth cite high food costs as their #1 challenge. Inventory management is one area where restaurant operators have embraced tech solutions to reduce these costs. In 2020, 95% of operators said that tech improves the overall efficiency of their operation, and 78% checked these metrics daily. remote temperature monitoring systems address inventory loss issues by alerting operators when their food is stored in unsafe conditions. When restaurants integrate a robust RTM system, they can prevent a large-scale inventory loss.
A remote temperature monitoring system relies on wireless sensors to record the temperature of a given space, and transmits the data to a monitoring system, where it can be analyzed for compliance. A manager can input the exact compliance needs of their foodservice operation, and the food safety software will confirm whether the temperature of the food storage unit meets these requirements. In advanced remote temperature monitoring systems, this information is displayed in a comprehensive dashboard that can easily be viewed remotely by using an app or web portal, such as Squadle’s RTM software.
When viewing information on RTM dashboards, there are two things to look out for. The first is a critical alert that the temperature in one or more of your food storage units has fallen out of compliance. With a remote temperature monitoring system, these time-sensitive issues can be quickly identified and addressed. This quick alert can prevent substantial inventory loss. Secondly, it is important to monitor temperatures that are trending towards “out of compliance.” These trends indicate potential food safety issues; for example, they may draw attention to a faulty appliance that is at risk of a larger shutdown. When these issues are identified, you can take action before food enters unsafe conditions. Managers can also take this data-driven opportunity to further coach their employees.
Using an IoT temperature monitoring solution offers significant advantages:
Remote temperature monitoring works to prevent issues of foodborne illness and inventory loss that arise from unsafe food storage conditions. Embracing food safety software removes the risk of human error in compromising food safety and resolves issues without disrupting inventory. Ultimately, a remote temperature monitoring system benefits customer retention rates as foodservice employees are able to spend more time providing an enhanced customer experience, and customers trust that their food is safe to eat.