"Please Don't Turn Off My Fridge"

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Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2018 by Steve Montgomery

When a fridge is turned off by accident, it can cause real problems. Real-time temperature monitoring via Whisker.IO® is a great solution.

In a restaraunt, some of the most critical pieces of equipment are the refrigeration units that keep food cold. If a refrigerator has a problem and the food is exposed to high temperatures, the food becomes unsafe and should not be served to the public. In the best case scenario, when this happens the restaraunt will incur the cost of the food that has to be thrown away, but this isn't the worst that can happen. In the worst case scenario, a worker realizes the food is warm, fixes the problem with the refrigerator and cotinues on as if nothing happened, serving the exposed food to the public.

3,000 people dies every year from food born illnesses, and more than 120,000 are hospitalized. Every time a refrigeration unit has a mechanical or electrical problem, the owner of the restaraunt is in danger of being the source of another food born illness and the liability in such a case can be significant.

For restaraunt chains with many locations, it is nearly impossible to catch every time an equipment failure creates a situation like this unless their employees are well trained and very diligent.

Most restaraunts implement some type of temperature monitoring solution involving having an employee sample and record refrigerator temperatures periodically, but it is common for employees to get busy and forget to do the measurements or to make mistakes when recording them, allowing problems to slip through the crack.

Whisker.Blocks® provide an easy and cost effective way to monitor refrigerators in real time. They can monitor air temperature, food temperature via an external probe and even the door position. They record values every 5 minutes and the readings are stored in the cloud. If a problem is detected, our system immediately sends notifications by text or email, allowing managerment to immediately handle the problem before the food can be affected. In addition, since the readings are stored in the cloud, we can provide defensable reporting showing the proper operation of the units at any time.

Recently, we installed our solution in twenty-one refrigerators at a well known quick serve restaraunt. Within 3 weeks of installation, our system caught and reported on three equipment failures that could have otherwise gone unnoticed. For example, one evening when the night shift was closing, one of the employees accidently turned off a switch that controlled a refigerator. The following graph shows the temperature of the refrigerator:

Fridge Failure - Switch Turned Off

Around 11:40pm on March 4th, the refrigerator temperature starts to increase, indicating the time that it was shut off. By 12:30am on the 5th of March, the temperature had risen to 45 degrees farenheit, immediately generating an alert that was sent to the management team.

Since then, two other equipment failures were caught and addressed before they could become a problem for the restaraunt or its customers. In one case, a breaker popped and caused a meat freezer to lose power, and in another instance, the thermostat in a refrigerator was faulty and required repair.

This kind of instant feedback coupled with the historical reporting provided by our solution has proven to be invaluable to this QSR. Whether the situation is a real equipment failure or something as simple as an employee turning off the wrong switch, refrigeration problems are a signficant concern for any restaraunt chain.

Real-time temperature monitoring with Whisker.IO® is a quick, cost effective way to mitigate these risks.