What if there were a way for restaurants to significantly reduce food safety breaches and expensive product loss? Well, with the Internet of Things (IoT), now there is. Continuous temperature monitoring sensors ensure more accurate time and temperature controls in restaurant kitchens, which directly improves food safety and reduces food spoilage. Yet, less than 5% of companies within the restaurant and hospitality industries use automated sensors to track temperatures.
Since 85% of restaurants’ food safety and product loss issues involve time and temp controls, it’s imperative for food service operators to utilize continuous temperature monitoring sensors to keep their food – and guests – healthy and safe.
Here are four key reasons to use digital sensors for continuous temperature monitoring:
- Improve food safety – 24/7 sensors help ensure that equipment is working properly, continuously monitor temperatures, and provide proactive alerts to any temp issues that could create food safety risks.
- Reduce product loss – By monitoring freezers, walk-in coolers and other equipment around the clock – and receiving real-time alerts for any breach in the system – restaurants can eliminate expensive product loss due to equipment failures between shifts or overnight.
- Reduce human errors – Human errors are common in restaurant kitchens. Perhaps the kitchen staff forgot to check the temperature of walk-in fridges and reach-in drawers, took food temperatures improperly (or not at all), or inadvertently left the walk-in cooler door open, causing food temps to fall into the danger zone. These mistakes can be costly in terms of expensive product loss and catastrophic foodborne illness.
- Alert staff to equipment failure & reduce downtime – Delays in noticing an equipment failure can slow down service time, limit menu items available during a shift, and negatively impact the guest experience. For instance, if a malfunctioning walk-in cooler goes unnoticed overnight, food is compromised (which is dangerous!), product needs to be tossed (which is expensive!), and, as a result, the restaurant will face food shortages for their upcoming shifts (which is inconvenient!). Automated temperature sensors alert the operator in real-time, enabling a maintenance team to respond rapidly and reduce or avoid downtime. As a result, the restaurant can product and money, while also reducing staff stress.
Some restaurants believe they can’t afford digital tools, but IoT sensors have become much more mainstream recently, and innovative new models are affordable for restaurants with a range of budgets. While it’s true there’s a cost to investing in digital sensors, savvy restaurateurs recognize this is a wise and worthwhile investment that ultimately pays for itself. The ROI is high when you consider that these tools help improve staff productivity, while also reducing foodborne illness and food waste – all of which have a significant impact on a restaurant’s bottom-line.
U.S. restaurants generate 11.4 million tons of food waste at an astonishing cost of $25 billion each year, according ReFED. A single overnight walk-in failure could cost a restaurant thousands of dollars in product loss. Eliminating this “cost of doing business” translates into serious dollars saved each year.
Too often, restauranteurs think hardware means serious money upfront. Today, it’s worth considering that technology companies are increasingly offering “Sensors as a Service” – so there’s no expensive upfront costs for purchasing hardware. This allows restaurants to make subscription payments the way they do for laundry, payroll, or other monthly expenses.
In addition to being more affordable and accessible, the latest digital sensors are more reliable as well. Modern 24/7 temp monitoring solutions incorporate LoRa (long-range radio) technology, which provides better reliability than older-model sensors that use WiFi or Bluetooth (which often can’t penetrate back-of-house environments). Installation is fast and easy with “restaurant-ready sensor kits” that take minutes to self-install in freezers, walk-ins, and low boy coolers.
In addition to these benefits, the latest temp sensors are:
- Scalable: can be used in one restaurant location or deployed to a chain of restaurants
- Configurable: allow managers to set thresholds for time and temp (e.g. send an alert if walk-in 1 is 5 degrees out of target range for more than 15 minutes)
- Reliable: offering real-time alerts and data available at any time, from anywhere
- Smart: send managers “Preventative Maintenance Suggested” alerts when equipment fluctuations suggest an imminent breakdown is likely
The most profitable and fast-growing food service brands are rapidly deploying new technologies to streamline and elevate their operations. Modern restaurant tech solutions reduce human error, improve operational efficiencies, eliminate food waste and strengthen food safety. Embracing technology also makes it possible to see a more holistic, big-picture view across an enterprise. Ultimately, this enables companies to make more informed operational decisions about key areas such as Training, Menu Development, and Store Performance.