Family-owned company Tingstad has been working with consumables since 1959. Their product portfolio includes everything from paper towels and toilet paper to food containers and packaging and even workwear – essentially, they provide every product that is not the main focus of their customers’ businesses, giving their customers the tools they need to have a better working day. Tingstad’s main customer base is the food industry – restaurants and grocery stores – which is where they saw an opportunity to address one of that industry’s biggest challenges: monitoring temperatures in refrigerators. The result is SmartMate, the app that enables customers to keep track of temperatures and meet regulations around food storage while supporting a healthy bottom line, as well as addressing sustainability. And IoT is at the heart of the solution.
Most countries have laws and regulations around food when it comes to cooking, cooling, and storage. What this means is that the food industry must ensure they have good practices when it comes to maintaining the right temperature of food products. Additionally, they must address food waste, because food waste is not just bad for the environment, it’s a cost – if you’re throwing away food, you’re throwing away profit. Tingstad’s SmartMate HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) system is an easy-to-use self-control program that uses sensors and models to connect equipment for restaurants, stores, and anyone else who needs to monitor their commercial refrigerators.
“We have a lot of customers who have demands on monitoring temperatures in refrigerators and freezers who wanted a system that would alert them when a problem arose, such as the temperature goes too low or high, or some other unusual behavior,” explains Tobias Mattsson, E-commerce Manager, Tingstad. “And connecting the equipment has a number of benefits beyond just knowing the temperature. For example, if a restaurant wants to insure their refrigerators and freezers, it’s a big annual cost. Just say you are running a seafood restaurant and you have stored 15,000 SEK worth of löjrom (whitefish roe) in the freezer and it goes out overnight. Unless the restaurant has extended insurance for their equipment, they won’t be reimbursed for their loss by the insurance company – and that extended insurance can cost ten to twenty thousand SEK a year.”
There is also the human factor to consider: it’s not always that the refrigerator or the freezer has broken down – often, someone forgot to close the door before closing up for the night and no one knows until staff arrives the following day to set up for lunch. By then it’s too late to save the food. And because restaurants operate on small margins, any loss can be devastating to their bottom line. Knowing that an alarm will be sent as soon as a problem is detected means that someone can go check on things and the contents of the refrigerator or freezer can be saved before all is lost.
How SmartMate works
The SmartMate system is a product as a service and uses connected sensors to monitor everything related to the temperature of your equipment, with data sent to the cloud every ten minutes and then shared in the app. The customer is in control of the parameters, such as max and mean temperatures and sets the alarms, such as when they should be triggered. In practice this means that the customer is in control of things and can ensure they’re not getting alarms all the time – they only get them when certain parameters are breached.
“When an alarm is sent a report is generated, something that is required with these types of equipment,” says Tobias Mattsson. “The report will include what happened and how it was dealt with. The reports on the equipment go back two years and gives a clear picture of the history of the equipment, which keeps the restaurant compliant with regulations.”
SmartMate is also designed to serve customers of all sizes. Digitalization isn’t easy even for the biggest companies and restaurants are often independent entities operating on tight budgets.
“The customer response has been great,” says Tobias Mattsson. “They feel that this solution is easy and that they can sleep well at night, because their worst nightmare is having all their product destroyed. These days restaurants are maximizing seating and have just enough food on hand to supply the day. This means they don’t have the same number of freezers and refrigerators that they used to have, kitchens are smaller, and they’re taking food deliveries every day. If that food is lost, they won’t be able to serve their customers. SmartMate is a cheap insurance to get security over their food.”