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, E. coli, Shigella, Staphylococcus and more, that can cause serious illness if consumed. Not to mention the money lost by the food distributor, grocer or restaurant if large quantities of meat are poorly maintained and thrown out.
iQ Foods, a Canada-based meat supplier, understands this better than most. The company has deep experience in the science behind meat storage. That’s because 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 has to be specifically measured because meat management has many factors. If the temperature is off by even half of a degree, the quality and safety of meat is 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 has to manually measure its entire inventory frequently throughout the day. This process includes having employees walk around the company’s storage facilities around 15-20 times per day to manually check multiple temperature gauges inside and outside of a freezer/refrigerator and recording the measurements. This process had many flaws, including time wasted and the inefficiency of employees having to manually check readings; 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 can threaten 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
iQ Foods engaged T&D Corp. through T&D distributor CAS Dataloggers, Chesterland, Ohio, to leverage its data logger technology to automate the storage/temperature management process. CAS works with the customer to find the right solution to their data logging and temperature control needs.
iQ Foods purchased T&D TR-71wf data loggers, which feature a wide temperature range of -40°C 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 cloud-based WebStorage Service, where temperature data measured by the thermocouple is automatically uploaded, stored and viewed from PCs and mobile devices, anytime and anywhere. This data can be simultaneously collected from multiple data loggers from varying locations, producing real-time reports for iQ Foods employees. With the T&D data loggers, iQ Foods found a solution to drastically improve 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,” says Lobaugh.
Leveraging technology to ensure quality and safety
Using TR-71wf data loggers, iQ Foods virtually mapped out each freezer/refrigerator to understand the temperature settings 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 iQ Foods 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 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 is simpler. 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.