Keeping Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream From Melting

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A refrigeration control system by Monnit Corp. was used to prevent Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream from being ruined, as well as conserve electricity.

Name of Organization: Udder Ventures, owners of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream shop in San Francisco

Industry: Restaurants

Location: San Francisco, CA USA

Business Opportunity or Challenge Encountered:

Many things in this world get wasted, but to have thousands of dollars of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream go to waste seems unfathomable. In a recent article, Network World’s Michelle Davidson describes how a San Francisco-based location of the chain faced such a challenge: Unreliable refrigeration control on a walk-in freezer would occasionally shut it down and ruin an entire inventory of ice cream.

According to John Slater, chief euphoria officer for Udder Ventures, the maker of Ben & Jerry’s, the store’s freezer kept shutting off because it wasn’t properly calibrated for the local climate. The shop did have sensors that sent out alerts when the freezer shut down, but the alerts did not provide specifics if the system was shutting down as part of a four-times-a-day defrost cycle, or if it was a more permanent shutdown.

The automatic thermostat tripping problem was eventually resolved, Davidson relates, but the store’s managers wanted a solution that provided more automatic, intelligent responses to temperature issues, versus the false-positive alerts that could crop up.

How This Business Opportunity or Challenge Was Met:

To address this issue, the store implemented an Internet of Things approach, installing remote temperature sensors from Monnit Corp. The refrigeration control system is designed to buffer temperature fluctuations for sensor readings within coolers and freezers. In typical cold storage applications, there are momentary fluctuations in temperatures that may be caused by standard operations such as defrost cycles, opening of doors, and fans circulating air. The temperature buffer uses 3mm glass beads to slow the response time of the temperature sensor allowing more accurate temperature data to be captured and prevent false alerts from being sent. This function is designed to better manage cold storage applications, and can be used with any Monnit wireless temperature sensor with probe.

Monnit Wireless Sensors also include free basic iMonnit online sensor monitoring, which enables customization of sensor operation and reviewing sensor data from any web enabled device, such as computers, tablets or smart phones. The system can also send more detailed notifications via text, email or voice call if user defined conditions are met or exceeded. The wireless sensing products are FCC, IC and CE/ETSI certified.

Measurable/Quantifiable and “Soft” Benefits From This Initiative:

Having the Monnit sensor system in place has not only saved thousands of dollars in potential lost ice cream, but also has helped the shop’s management’s productivity as well, Network World’s Davidson relates. As more intelligent alerts are delivered, managers can make the decision whether to run over to the store, or to call a repair service. Plus the store is able to better conserve electricity.

(Sources: Network World, Monnit Corp.)

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