The future of cold storage

future of cold storage

Why It’s Time for the Hospitality Industry to Wave Goodbye to Manual Temperature Monitoring

Food spoilage has always been a significant cost for the hospitality industry, and recent reports suggest that food waste is currently costing restaurants about £682 million annually. Until recently, there have been very few sustainable solutions to tackle the problem beyond manual checking due to prohibitive costs, accuracy issues and space. However, Smart IoT technology can now help make food spoilage a thing of the past. At a time when budgets are tight, labour is in short supply, and regulatory compliance is more stringent than ever, businesses should take advantage of the potential that technology has to offer. 

What’s the problem with manual temperature monitoring?

Manual temperature monitoring provides a solution for hospitality management to ensure food safety compliance and extend the shelf life of food products. Cold storage equipment needs to be kept at an optimal temperature, and although manual temperature checking helps monitor this, reliance on this method of checking raises several operational challenges:

  • Human error poses multiple risks, whether inaccurate readings or missed or poorly performed temperature checks. 
  • Manual checks can only be performed when staff are onsite, meaning that out-of-hours power cuts can go undetected for significant periods, often impacting food quality and safety without the business being aware. 
  • Manual checking is also time-consuming, taking employees away from other duties, which can not only impact productivity and customer service but, at a time of labour shortages, may not be viable at all. 

These issues can all lead to food waste and add to business overheads through poor labour deployment, reduced customer service, and reduced shelf life of food products. This means that alternative, more accurate and efficient solutions are an increasingly important priority for all areas of the food and beverage industry. New temperature monitoring technology can provide a practical and sustainable solution. 

How sensor technology can support automated temperature monitoring

During the last five years, we’ve seen a dramatic change in the capabilities of ‘Smart’ technology, including the evolution of sensors. While sensor technology was available for many functions, it lacked the accuracy and durability to be used in cold storage environments until now. The sensors were too large, and the devices were not robust enough to withstand the extreme temperatures required by the food storage and hospitality industries. 

Advances in technology have enabled the removal of these challenges, allowing for the creation and optimisation of completely wireless sensors that are small enough to be deployed in compact spaces and robust enough to withstand temperature extremes – as low as -40° C with an exceptionally long battery life of up to 15 years.

Delivering continuous real-time temperature monitoring and reporting around the clock – through cloud connectors and data management software – sensor technology can provide the base for data-driven cold storage management, proactively addressing potential issues and failures before waste occurs.  Automatic alerts triggered by sensor data alert personnel to potential equipment failures, avoiding the waste and cost of unexpected breakdowns and emergency repairs. 

Cold storage management is changing. With sensor technology, hospitality businesses of all sizes have the potential to address one of the critical challenges of the industry in a way that is cost-efficient, energy-efficient, highly accurate and easy to both onboard and maintain. Hospitality businesses that fail to take advantage of everything that sensor technology has to offer run the risk of falling behind. 

Contributor: Bengt Lundberg, CEO, Disruptive Technologies