Conservation of Refrigerated Foods
Food waste in the HORECA sector
In 2018, there were almost 280,000 restaurants (1), and 17,000 hotels (2) in Spain. The vast majority of these establishments do not have any system for the remote management or remote monitoring of temperatures in the food stored in their cold room stores and refrigerators food worth several thousand euros for restaurants, on average, and which, for hotels, is worth tens of thousands of euros.
One of the crucial parts the HORECA business is reducing food waste, since waste directly impacts on business profitability, not only because of the food that is not used, but also because of the energy and man hours involved in conservation/processing, as well as the cost of opportunity.
In Spain, an average of €3,000 in food is wasted in restaurants with menus which serve 100 meals per day on average. In school canteens, hospitals and other community food services, waste exceeds 13% of the volume marketed (3).
It is crucial to keep food at the right temperature. A variation of only 0.7°C can reduce the food’s shelf life by 11%.
Difficulties in Monitoring Food Preservation
The solution seems quite obvious: Why not install a monitoring system that alerts me of conservation problems, temperatures which are too high or too low, and gives me information so that the product can be better conserved while optimizing energy consumption?
However, until now existing monitoring solutions have had the following drawbacks:
- High acquisition cost: In restaurants, in particular, many of which only have one cold room store, implementing a monitoring system via WebServer would be too expensive given the amount of products to be monitored.
- Complex and costly installation: Very technical systems, large amounts of power and communication cables, which have to be installed very carefully to ensure the circuits run smoothly.
- Infrastructure: Needing their own communications network, opening of ports, fixed IP, a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), to guarantee data transmission if the power supply were cut off, etc.
- Difficult to use: Unhelpful user interfaces that gave raw data, without processing it beforehand, rendering it unusable or useless.
- Inflexible: If they needed to be modified, the installations would have to be completely reinstalled, with the attendant costs.
- Costly Multi-Site Licenses: In the restaurant chain business, having a single access point to monitor all establishments is infeasible with some solutions, and in other cases, licenses are too expensive.
AKODATA NB-IoT as a solution to all these challenges
AKO is a company which can boast over 40 years of experience in the refrigeration sector, a company which is strongly committed to developing innovative solutions aimed at improving the conservation of products, reducing electricity consumption and directly impacting our customers’ business. We have developed AKODATA NB-IoT, the first temperature and moisture monitoring solution that meets all the needs of the HORECA sector, and eliminates all the drawbacks described above.
- Easy installation: just press a button, place the device inside the chamber using an adhesive, and the device begins to register temperature and moisture
- Intuitive set-up through AKONET.Cloud, a monitoring system that guides you through the necessary steps
- You can use it to make a cluster of different devices by establishment, region, service type, etc.
- No need for any type of communications infrastructure: no WIFI, or Ethernet, or fixed IP, no opening of ports required. Each device connects automatically, no need for router or WebServer
- Low base price so quickly depreciated
- Data security (encrypted and redundant, stored both on the device and on the server), and communication; no signal problems, even inside fridge chambers.
- Scalable to thousands of devices without limitations.
- If the chamber has to be renovated, it can be re-installed just as easily as when it was first installed.
AKODATA NB-IoT allows you:
1. To receive alerts about food conservation risks. There can be various types of alert:
- Maximum Temperature Alert: If the devices registers a temperature that is high enough to compromise the correct conservation of the product (failures in the refrigeration system, chamber door left open, power supply cut off, etc.)
- Minimum Temperature Alert: Similarly, a temperature which is too low can also spoil the product (incorrect regulation, set point temperature too low, control probe incorrectly positioned, etc.)
- HACCP Alert: Under the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points method, a set of control criteria are established that relate inadequate temperatures to the total time in which these temperatures are being reached or exceeded. Reaching the maximum temperature for a second is not the same as doing so for hours. Bacteriological and food hygiene risk rises exponentially the longer the product remains under these conditions. AKODATA NB-IoT will also tell you about these kinds of risk.
- Low Set point Temperature Time Alert: Perhaps the product does not reach the maximum temperature set as an alarm, but it is not kept long enough at the set point temperature (temperature at which we want to conserve the product), thereby significantly shortening the product’s operating life, and causing it to be lost or spoilt. If this is the case with your product, the system will alert you so you can correct the set point temperature.
For your peace of mind, you can adjust the settings so that you receive a notification when the alert is disabled.
2. To detect ways of improving food conservation:
- The system will give you extremely useful information such as the Temperature Histogram (TTI), which tells you whether the food is being stored at the right temperature, and if it is not too low (which affects product quality and energy waste), or too high (risk of product loss). In the example below, you can observe that most of the time the product is in the upper limit of the storage temperature, and thus the product may not last as long as we would like. In this case, if we lower the set point temperature by approximately two degrees, we will be able to prolong the food’s conservation time.
- The system gives you information on the degree of conservation for each day, so you can spot problems associated with certain days of the week (if there has been more or less activity, bad working practices, etc.), so you can correct them. The graph below shows us that during the first 10 days, food conservation was uneven: there were extended periods in which the temperature was lower than it should have been (blue), and others in which the opposite happened (red). In this case, this analysis was used to implement measures to optimize the set temperature (ensuring it was not too low), and to establish quality processes when opening chamber doors so that it does not remain open too long, and so the temperature does not rise above the correct range. Once these actions have been implemented, product conservation is observed to improve significantly from the eleventh day on.
3. Continuously track temperature and moisture
- In the graphs below we can see the continuous record and the record of maximum, minimum and average temperatures per day
4. Get automatic reports for quality or industry audits
With a powerful report generator, you can forget all the document management of your business. This significantly reduces the time spent on administrative tasks, so it can spend more time on your business. The reports provided by the system include:
- Standard Temperature Report
- Advanced Temperature Report
- Alarms Report
- Solution which is very simple to install and use
- Cable-free, 3-year battery life and easy battery replacement
- Flexibility for renovations, due to its portability
- Ensures that the stored product is correctly maintained
- Helps to reduce product losses and spoilage, and to optimise energy consumption in food refrigeration.
- Receive alerts about any problem concerning the correct conservation of your products
- Modular, and scalable to thousands of devices
- Highly intuitive user interface
- Ideal solution for small restaurants as well as large hotels with many different refrigerated cambers and furniture/containers
- Total peace of mind about the goods stored in your cold room store
- Swift return on investment
- Automatic report generation for audits
At AKO, we strive to find efficient, simple and durable solutions that have a positive impact on our customers’ business.
(2) DBK Sector Observatory
(3) Unilever Food Solutions 2011