In the food and beverage industry, there is nothing more important than quality and safety. The transportation and storage of meat are among the most highly regulated sectors because of the danger posed by the careless handling of meat. There are a number of disease-carrying pathogens found in raw meat, including Salmonella, Escherichia coli, Shigella, Staphylococcus, and more, which can cause serious illness if consumed. Such contamination may also lead to money lost by the food distributor, grocer, or restaurant if large quantities of meat must be thrown out. As one of the country’s prominent independent meat suppliers, iQ Foods understands this better than most. The company has deep experience in the science behind meat storage. iQ Foods is an expert at monitoring food color, bone color, and purge (water, lactic acid, and meat pigments.) The entire environment of a storage facility or vehicle must be specifically measured because meat management has many factors. If the temperature is off by even one-half of a degree, the quality and safety of the meat are compromised.
Addressing Productivity and Efficiency in the Storage Process
To ensure premium quality and safety of the company’s inventory, which is typically around more than $60 million worth of meat at one time, iQ Foods was required to manually measure its entire inventory frequently throughout the day. This process included having employees walk around the company’s storage facilities 15–20 times per day to manually check multiple temperature gauges inside and outside of a freezer/refrigerator and record the measurements. This process had many flaws, including time wasted and the inefficiency of employees having to manually check readings as well as human error, which includes missing a measurement cycle or misreading the gauges, leaving a refrigerator door open after reading a measurement, and other mishaps. All of these factors threatened the security and quality of iQ Foods’ inventory. It also made the required reporting of all measurements to quality inspection organizations and the grocers who purchase the meat more difficult. And while the company was disciplined in its manual measurement process, Brandon Lobaugh, president of iQ Foods, knew that there had to be a more efficient and secure solution.
Implementing a Better Solution with T&D
iQ Foods engaged T&D Corporation, through T&D distributor CAS Dataloggers in Chesterland, OH, to leverage its data logger technology for the automation of the storage/temperature management process. CAS works with the customer to find the right solution to their data logging and temperature control needs. The company purchased T&D TR-71wf data loggers. These wireless TR-data loggers feature a wide temperature range of –40 to 110 °C, and the compact, battery-powered devices can be deployed in virtually any quantity to form a unified data reporting network. The data loggers connect seamlessly to T&D’s free, cloud-based WebStorage Service, where temperature data measured by the thermocouple is automatically uploaded, stored, and viewed from PCs and mobile devices anytime from anywhere. These data can be simultaneously collected from multiple data loggers from varying locations, enabling real-time reports to iQ Foods employees. With the T&D data loggers, iQ Foods found a solution to drastically improve its efficiency and accuracy in managing its inventory.
“T&D’s data logger technology has provided us with the peace of mind and security we need to ensure quality and safety of our food inventory. As we look forward to expanding our brand, the TR-71wf will become an integral tool in our network of storage facilities.”
– Brandon Lobaugh, president, iQ Foods LLC
Leveraging Technology to Ensure Quality and Safety
Using TR-71wf data loggers, iQ Foods virtually mapped out each freezer/refrigerator to determine which temperature settings are ideal for each room’s layout. The wireless functionality allows employees to check the status of each loggers using the accompanying T&D Thermo app. They can even tell immediately if a freezer/refrigerator door is left open. This allows Lobaugh and his team to ensure proper conditions are being maintained in real-time from anywhere in the world. One of the key factors in handling meat is taking inventory from a frozen to a thawed state. The temperature of the meat must be closely monitored throughout this process. With the TR-71wf and T&D’s food probes for measuring internal temperature, iQ Foods can dial in on the exact timing of this process, completely perfecting it. In addition to real-time monitoring of iQ Foods’ inventory, the data collection and reporting process has become simpler than ever. Now, the TR-71wf sends reports to the T&D WebStorage Service every hour. The collection of temperature readings is automated, providing the company with a digital record of data throughout the storage process. This makes reporting to customers and quality inspectors easier than ever.