– Originally written by Bengt Lundberg, CEO of Disruptive Technologies –
The future of grocery stores is evolving, incorporating more advanced technologies for better food management and sustainability.
This evolution has been assisted and advanced through the use of smart sensor technology – some of which can be as tiny as a stamp and can revolutionise the way we understand and manage food storage. But what is smart sensor technology, and how many ways can it benefit businesses?
What is smart sensor technology?
Smart sensor technology is a simple, yet incredibly effective method of monitoring the conditions maintained in food storage. Sensors can track the temperature, proximity, water, and humidity of anywhere but can be used in fridges, and freezers – information which in the case of Disruptive Technologies’ sensors is then wirelessly relayed to a cloud-based system for real-time analysis.
Alert systems can also be established, notifying management and service technicians of faults, sudden temperature changes, or leaks that could potentially damage produce.
This level of monitoring is extremely helpful in ensuring that regulatory requirements (such as HACCP – the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point regulations) are fully met. The HACCP regulations involve keeping accurate records of the procedures you take to ensure food safety.
Smart sensor technology provides these records, uploaded to a secure cloud location, and displayed via specialist software, partner portals, or custom integration.
What are the business benefits of smart sensor use in cold storage?
There are several business benefits to the use of smart sensor technology in cold storage, extending far beyond the simple meeting of regulations. These benefits include the reduction of food waste, the detection of broken or faulty units before they cause damage, and increased sustainability.
The reduction of food waste for businesses and customers
Food waste is understandably a key focus of grocery stores – the waste of products can cause huge financial losses and disruption in the necessary distribution of stock. Some may underestimate the impact that smart sensor monitors can have on such a significant issue. However, the use of sensor technology in cold storage units has been demonstrated to reduce up to 40% of food waste in grocery shops and storage.
The use of real-time remote monitoring and subsequent alerts means that temperature changes and fluctuations can be quickly detected and rapidly handled, with temperature-sensitive foods being transferred to the correct environments before being spoiled, and technological problems quickly solved.
These alerts mean that even when there is no employee presence in storage units, issues can be quickly identified. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, smart sensor technology saved a global restaurant chain £1.25m in food stock.
The detection of broken or faulty units
It is not only temperature change that can affect the quality and safety of foods in storage. Issues such as leaks can cause damage to units and the food inside them. Smart sensors relay information about water and humidity alongside temperature, meaning that a problem such as a leak or a fault can be identified before the temperature of the unit becomes affected, which also extends the lifetime of the assets with more predictable maintenance.
This allows more time to fix the issue or transfer food to functional storage units quickly, as well as keeping customers safe in-store.
The impact of sustainability on businesses centres predominantly around two issues – maintaining successful business and eco-consciousness. Both issues heavily involve the management of food waste. Smart sensor technology is also a more sustainable option for cold storage monitoring due to its long battery life and cost-effectiveness, making it an ideal investment for grocery stores of any size.
Smart sensors provide businesses with a range of cost-effective benefits, regardless of the scale of operations. They provide opportunities with large financial savings, increased sustainability, and the ability to instantly respond to issues and faults.
Will we start to see smart sensor technology in all storage units? It appears that smart sensors may indeed be the future of grocery stores.