Storage & Distribution

Nine Factors to Consider When Choosing a Wireless Monitoring System

Across the food and beverage industry, the benefits of wireless temperature monitoring are well-known. Innovative monitoring systems are proven to provide highly accurate, real-time temperature data, support food safety compliance, and cut costs of loading refrigerated food transportation. BRCGS standards also require the implementation and control of process monitoring to ensure that products are manufactured according to industry specifications.   

These benefits have been applied across a wide range of industries, including:  

  • Food and beverage production 
  • Pharmaceutical and medical 
  • Hospitals and care 
  • Food service and hospitality 
  • Storage and logistics 
  • Laboratories and pharmacies  
  • Industry and manufacturing 
  • Food retail 

However, there is much uncertainty around the best form of wireless monitoring system. At Klipspringer, our partner and customers frequently ask us for advice on which system to choose. Instead of simplistically recommending one of our systems, regardless of their specific temperature monitoring applications, we decided that providing all of the relevant information best enables them to make the right choice.  

That’s why we wrote this article. Drawing on our two decades’ experience as industry leaders in modernised data logging, it is based on clips from a webinar we recently hosted in collaboration with Quorn Foods.

The topic is nine key factors to consider before choosing a wireless monitoring system. Navigate the below menu to skip straight to the section most relevant to your needs…

You can also watch the full webinar below:

1) Parameters

It’s difficult to order each factor by importance, but the parameter – or parameters – measured by the system you opt for is one of the most fundamental aspects.  

As you begin your hunt for the perfect wireless monitoring system, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is: what exactly do I want to monitor?  

If your answer is temperature only, most basic monitoring systems will cover your needs, even simple Wi-Fi loggers found on sites like Amazon. However, if your answer is more complex than just temperature, other options may be more suitable.  

Do you, for example, want to measure both temperature and humidity (rH)? What about energy, concentration (ppm), or even door contact? As the number of measurables increases, so does the complexity of system required.  

Here is a list of the most common measurable parameters: 

  • Temperature  
  • Humidity  
  • CO2 
  • Energy 
  • Pressure 
  • Concentration 
  • Door contact 
  • Data from advanced plant/engineering sensors 

While there are countless systems that are custom-built for specific measurables, with advanced, high-end systems it is possible to measure and set up alarms for virtually any parameter.  

2) Hardware

Having established your required parameters, the next three factors all relate to the component setup of your system. Component setup is an essential early step in the monitoring system decision-making process, but it often gets overlooked.  

Hardware is the first of these factors.  

The biggest delineation in deciding your hardware is whether you require a physical base station, complete with display and sounds, or a non-physical system which operates entirely digitally.  

Careful consideration of the working conditions your hardware will have to withstand will also be essential. For example, will your system’s sensors need to be waterproof? Does your system need to be equipped with heat-resistant casing? Or require particularly long-lasting battery life, as it needs to be placed in an inaccessible area?  

Finally, appraising your probe options is another essential step. Will you need to measure air temperature or product temperature? If so, choose a probe that corresponds with those applications.  

3) Data Storage Access

Storage access is one of the most crucial, yet most misunderstood, factors to consider when choosing a wireless monitoring system. It is frequently conflated with sensor connection type – addressed below – but data storage access is its own independent category.  

This category can be split into two options: network-based storage, and cloud-based storage. Many see network-based storage as more secure because it doesn’t rely on external servers. There are also no ongoing cloud licensing fees.  

On the other hand, cloud-based storage offers access to data from any location, at any time. This makes it the ideal solution for those looking to implement wireless monitoring systems at multiple site locations, while accessing the data from one central location.  

4) Sensor Connection Type

Equally crucial is the type of sensor connector. The majority of wireless monitoring systems use one of three main types: 

a) Wi-Fi 

Wi-Fi-based sensor connectors are excellent, if your site has strong coverage throughout. However, in large chillers or freezers it is difficult and expensive to guarantee such Wi-Fi coverage. Because a password is required to gain access, it can result in a loss of sensor connection if this password is changed by IT. Higher battery consumption is also an issue with Wi-Fi-based systems.  

b) Bluetooth 

Bluetooth options require a reading device to be nearby at all times. This often constitutes a mobile phone with a downloaded data tracking app – a simple but reliable system, although battery life does drain significantly.  

c) Radio Frequency 

Radio frequency, or RF, is the strongest form of wireless data transfer. In most scenarios, radio systems use a frequency of 433mHz, which is used for longer-distance transmissions across large open spaces, or 868mHz, which is better suited for shorter distances with more obstructions, such as walls. When asked by customers, we are likeliest to recommend radio-based systems because of their stronger signal, lower battery consumption, and more reliable overall connectivity.  

5) Installation

As with any installation, the most pressing consideration is whether or not your site/s require professional support, or if you want to install the system yourself.  

At Klipspringer, we pride ourselves on offering one of the fastest delivery turnaround times in the industry – the entire monitoring system is typically delivered within 2-3 days. For those requiring professional installation services, leading companies will send expert technicians on site. This process usually lasts between 3-4 weeks.  

6) Alarm Type

When looking out for the best monitoring solutions, here’s a tip: look out for the systems that issue alarms by the widest range of mediums.  

Why? In the event of an alarm, speedy and decisive action is immediately required. This cannot happen if you are not instantly notified about the situation – hence the urgent need for alarms to be sent by phone call, SMS, email, and a variety of other methods, rather than riskily depending on just one.  

7) Calibration

There are three questions regarding calibration you should ask yourself before purchasing any wireless monitoring system.  

Firstly, do you require UKAS calibration for audit requirements? If so, only UKAS accredited organisations are able to supply this service, which narrows your options to those upper-tier companies.  

Secondly, will your system require periodic onsite recalibration? If so, take note of the costs involved in this process, how frequently your system will require recalibration, and whether your potential monitoring system supplier offers this service.  

Thirdly, what is the location of the sensors? For example, if the sensors have to be mounted on the ceiling, this makes it altogether more difficult to access them for recalibration and servicing.  

8) Cost

Consult the below table for an outline of the potential costs of wireless monitoring systems, based on two generalised scenarios: 

Factors

Scenario 1

Scenario 2

Size of facility

Small

Large

No. of monitoring points

<5

>25

Parameters

Temperature only (-20 to 25°C)

Multiple parameters; mainly high temperature, some humidity (rH)

Accessibility to sensor position

Easy access

Easy access

Onsite installation and annual service/calibration

Not required

Professional installation and ongoing technical support

UKAS calibration

Not required

Yes

Alarming

Basic

Advanced

Pricing guide

£500

£8,000-£10,000

As seen above, differences in these factors can cause massive range in the price of a system. Read on to learn about the final factor to consider when choosing a wireless monitoring systems 

9) Ongoing Support

Last but far from least is ongoing support. In their haste to acquire the first system that crosses their path, people often overlook the vital importance of continual expert advice, long after any purchase of a wireless monitoring system has been made.  

While sites like Amazon offer a wide range of logging systems, there is no on-site support available regarding calibration, software updates, or troubleshooting.  

The current market is flooded with wireless monitoring systems. While many of these are perfectly acceptable, most are designed to cover multiple industries. At Klipspringer, we’ve spent years refining wireless monitoring systems to meet site requirements that are specifically focused on the food industry.  

Listen below as Kenny Edwards, Quality Manager at Quorn Foods, outlines how wireless site monitoring provided tremendous value for him and his team.  

Our knowledgeable, friendly team offer unequalled customer support, and our systems – such as the much-acclaimed WatchmanOne – excel at real-time monitoring across a range of parameters.  

For any wireless monitoring system-related enquiries, feel free to contact our support team at: 01473 461 800. 


Compliant Fridge Temperature Monitoring – A Complete Overview

What Is Fridge Temperature Monitoring?

Putting it simply, fridge temperature monitoring means regularly checking and recording what’s happening in your fridges or chillers.

Due to the temperature-sensitive nature of products stored in fridges and chillers, it’s important that the fridge is neither too hot nor too cold, and remains at a temperature between 0 and 5°C.

Whether it’s every minute or just twice a day, regularly checking is crucial to ensuring temperature-sensitive products are preserved – both in terms of food safety (to limit bacteria growth) and food quality (to maintain the taste, texture or appearance).

Why Is Fridge Temperature Monitoring Important?

Given that the majority of fridges and chillers have a temperature display, it’s fair to question why a secondary independent temperature check is necessary.

The answer is simply that temperature displays show the temperature a fridge is set to, rather than the temperature it is actually reading.

As any refrigeration or cooling unit is at risk of malfunction or breakdown, it’s important that an independent temperature check is carried out regularly to ensure the fridge temperature is safe, especially if the products are high-risk and/or perishable.

Official Advice

This is supported by the Food Standards Agency’s advice on chilling, which states:

‘You need to check that your fridge is cold enough using a fridge thermometer. This is because the dials on fridges don’t always show you the right temperature. Your fridge should be 5°C or below.’ 

BRCGS Clause 4.15.3, relating to the storage of raw materials, in-process products or finished products is also relevant. It states:

‘Temperature recording equipment with suitable temperature alarms shall be fitted to all storage facilities or there shall be a system of recorded manual temperature checks, typically on at least a 4-hourly basis or at a frequency which allows for intervention before product temperatures exceed defined limits for the safety, legality or quality of products.’ (BRCGS Global Food Safety Standard V8 , Clause 4.15.3)

In addition to food safety and quality, fridge monitoring systems with alarms offer excellent cost-saving and risk-management, as instances of non-compliance that would result in stock loss or wastage can be identified in good time, before stock must be discarded.

This is particularly relevant for large chillers, which may contain hundreds or thousands of pounds’ worth in storage. Fridge monitoring systems with audible, visual or SMS alerts have been known to avert serious loss and even reduce insurance premiums.

How Often Should I Check the Temperature of my Fridges and Chillers?

In sum, there is no hard and fast rule on how often the checks should take place; ultimately it depends on your documented site processes.

As noted above, the FSA’s guidance does not specify regularity, however the inference would be once per day.

Some local government authorities are more specific on their recommendations, such as Falkirk Council in their Food Safety Guidance, who specify that fridges should be checked at least twice per day.

The BRCGS recommend checks are conducted at least 4-hourly but leave this open to the site’s discretion, based on the time it would take for product temperatures to exceed defined limits for product safety, legality or quality.

For particularly temperature-sensitive or high-risk products in small pack quantities, especially fresh meat and dairy products, it’s wise to take a worst-case scenario approach.

If the fridge was to break down or have the door left open immediately after your temperature check and on a warm day, how soon would the stock become unsafe?

Hopefully, this article has offered useful insights, advice, and recommendations regarding compliant fridge temperature monitoring. If you have any questions or queries, feel free to contact our helpful support team at: 01473 461800.


The Hub Introduction

As the UK & Ireland’s leading food safety compliance partner to the food sector, Klipspringer are excited to launch a new online area dedicated to helpful and insightful content for food industry professionals.

Titled ‘The Hub’, we are determined to make this new resource the go-to place for food manufacturing, hospitality, retail and distribution businesses looking to improve their processes and operations.

We’re also highly optimistic that consultants, auditors and food safety inspectors will find it useful to learn about the latest innovations and compliance solutions relevant their clients, with the common aim of enhancing standards and inspiring excellence across the complete food sector.

Featuring new content every week, The Hub is subdivided into four main categories – blogs, help guides, news articles and videos.
Firstly, blogs. Addressing topical questions and the most frequent industry challenges, Klipspringer’s blogs offer plain-English helpful insight and tips on everything from oil management through to temperature mapping. They’re also where you’ll find useful cost guides and comparisons between different industry solutions.
Secondly, help guides and tutorial videos. As a compliance-focused business with a fairly technical product range (not to mention the jargon-heavy food industry), sometimes things need a little further explanation! Our help guide section is where you’ll learn the answers to our most common product and service questions, such as how to verify thermometer accuracy, and a handy jargon-buster for all things data logging.

Next, news articles. From exhibitions through to new product releases, you will find the newest and most exciting news here. Oh, and also occasionally another new staff member or company update. Some will be important, and some less important; nevertheless, we’re sure they’ll always be interesting.

And lastly, our featured videos. If a picture tells a thousand words, then a video tells a whole lot more. Watch our latest featured videos in this section, with really useful product demos, customer feedback and also the occasional fascinating insight into how things happen at Klipspringer.

If you have any feedback on The Hub or suggestions on future content, be sure to get in touch with our team using the form below – we’d love to hear from you and promise to get back to you as soon as we possibly can!