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How Smart Sensors Support Better Cold Storage Management

Here's how restaurants can use smart sensors to improve food storage and reduce waste.
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Waste and cost reduction are significant benefits for all hospitality businesses.
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Smart sensor technology use is rapidly increasing across sectors, primarily because it provides an efficient and highly effective means for businesses to gather data and monitor equipment in real-time. For hospitality businesses, the scope of the technology is enormous, with the potential to support everything from temperature control to ensure optimum customer comfort and more. However, there’s one area in which smart sensors hold great potential to support hospitality businesses more than any other, and that is food storage. 

How can hospitality businesses use smart sensors to improve food storage and reduce waste?

Restaurants generate 33 million pounds of food waste annually, according to the National Restaurant Association. Most of this figure is avoidable through improved equipment maintenance and kitchen management strategies. 

Smart sensor technology is the key to reducing avoidable food waste through simple and effective cold storage equipment monitoring. 

Smart sensors can be placed in fridges, freezers and cold rooms and deliver real-time data for food quality optimisation, removing the need for time-consuming manual inspections and providing alerts when problems are detected. Smart sensors support the best standards within food storage and help hospitality businesses reduce costs, decrease food waste, and manage equipment maintenance. 

Once in place, the sensors continuously monitor temperature within the storage environment. The results are wirelessly sent to a cloud-based system at regular, predefined intervals, enabling managers to review them and act quickly if a temperature rise is detected. In a busy kitchen environment, where freezer doors can be left slightly ajar or fridge temperature dials or plugs to be knocked accidentally, these results may provide a crucial insight that protects a business from loss and ensures that food is kept in the conditions required to ensure safety.

The data also provides insights into equipment health, allowing businesses to take preventative action when signs of potential equipment failure emerge and schedule maintenance at convenient times. The sensors are also always on, which means they can alert managers to out-of-hours failures, so if there are problems overnight or on days when the business is closed, managers have the opportunity to address the issue rather than finding a nasty surprise the next time they enter the building. 

For larger hospitality businesses, sensor data can be integrated with work order management systems. When an alert is triggered, a notification can be sent to all relevant parties, enabling the fastest problem resolution. 

The benefits of smart sensors

Waste and cost reduction are significant benefits for all hospitality businesses, but smart sensor technology can provide a wealth of other uses. 

The potential use of smart sensors for predictive maintenance carries many advantages. With cloud-based reporting, smart sensors detect trends that may indicate equipment deterioration when temperature fluctuations or other anomalies first begin to show, and alerts will notify managers long before food waste has a chance to occur. Cloud-based reporting prevents avoidable waste and helps prolong the equipment's lifespan while avoiding inconvenient outages. It also helps to prevent the high cost of emergency repairs while supporting improved sustainability through the reduction of waste – and with sustainability being a serious brand differentiator in recent years, it should be a significant consideration for any hospitality business. 

There are other ways in which hospitality businesses can also use smart sensors. IoT inventory management can be ideal for temperature monitoring and optimising food management. Wireless water sensors can help detect leaks, whether from a refrigerator or elsewhere in the building, helping protect against water damage. When businesses integrate sensors with feedback buttons, they gain the opportunity to improve both service and efficiency. Smart sensors can also help ensure hospitality businesses are complying with hygiene regulations.

Improving food safety compliance

Poor food safety compliance can pose a genuine public health concern, hence the need to upkeep stringent regulatory standards. IoT sensors enable hospitality businesses to maintain an irrefutable audit trail and keep almost limitless records of temperature data, equipment maintenance, and system failures, even when the connection to the cloud is lost. Automated report creation and distribution will also save business managers time and effort, whether dealing with compliance or strategy planning.  

Smart sensor technology use is growing across sectors. In the hospitality sector, it holds the potential to play a crucial role in preventing waste, reducing costs, and enhancing sustainability, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 


About the Author

Bengt Lundberg is the CEO of Disruptive Technologies. Disruptive Technologies’ sensors are small, unobtrusive, and ready to use. The peel-and-stick application allows for instant set-up almost anywhere, without wiring, making them almost infinitely scalable. 

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