A tool that helps food retailers ensure stable refrigeration for regulatory compliance, prevent stock loss, minimise food waste, and reduce energy use – remote monitoring software ActiveFM™ has been proven to deliver those benefits for over 20 years. We spoke to Richard Raper, Applications Director at Resource Data Management, who has been working with ActiveFM for more than 18 years. He told us how ActiveFM can help food retailers ensure regulatory compliance, and reduce operating costs.

ActiveFM is a remote monitoring platform that gathers detailed data, including refrigeration temperatures and operating data of HVACR fixtures across multiple sites worldwide. It presents this data in a user-friendly format helping businesses correct issues and meet their individual targets.

“Ensuring stable refrigeration is key for food retailers,” Richard stated. “It’s paramount for the business from a compliance perspective, but it also prevents stock loss and the associated costs which can run into the millions if refrigeration fails. In addition, if any cases of food poisoning are linked back to a store’s poor refrigeration, the consequences of the resulting damages to the brand reputation are almost impossible to calculate.
“Add to that the pressure to reduce food waste which has increased over recent years because of its damaging impact on the climate and ensuring stable refrigeration becomes even more important.”

The risks associated with insufficient refrigeration are clear. How can ActiveFM help mitigate these risks?

“The answer to that question lies in the data and how it is used,” Richard commented. “ActiveFM remotely monitors and records the temperatures of refrigerated cases and coldrooms. It can do so for a single site or across multiple sites worldwide. The temperature recordings are available 24 hours a day and can be used to demonstrate food safety regulatory compliance.
“In addition to temperature data, ActiveFM collects data on the operation of individual fixtures, the number of service calls for a specific equipment or site, and energy data. Access to this additional data makes a huge difference to businesses in terms of preventing stock loss, ensuring efficient operations, and keeping service costs low.”

With data on the operation of individual HVAC and refrigeration fixtures available, any risks to stock or trading can be flagged and prevented. Businesses can carry out predictive maintenance which keeps the risk of a refrigeration failure and the associated stock loss to a minimum. In addition to food safety risks, energy overuse and manual HVAC/lighting setpoint overrides can be monitored to prevent a rise in operational costs.

“If refrigeration equipment isn’t functioning properly, this will be flagged up in the provided data which can be analysed to understand if there is an underlying issue that might cause bigger problems down the line. This issue can then be fixed early before it causes a breakdown of the refrigeration equipment and any food spoils,” Richard explained. “Fixing problems early will also help the business save energy as equipment that is not functioning properly often runs inefficiently and wastes energy.”

In addition to enabling predictive maintenance, having historical data about the health of HVAC and refrigeration equipment available also helps businesses make future purchasing decisions.

“Some food retailers have ActiveFM data about their site that goes back 20 years,” Richard stated. “The business can use the historical data about issues and lifespan of equipment to make decisions on future investments.” 

When it comes to equipment issues, ActiveFM also provides benefits for service contractors that ultimately benefit the food retailers too.

“ActiveFM provides service contractors the option to not only see the status of HVACR fixtures remotely, but also make changes to settings from anywhere with internet access to sites worldwide,” Richard explained. “Being able to make changes remotely drastically reduces the number of site visits. This reduces costs for the food retailers and lowers carbon emissions because it’s not necessary to drive to the site to provide service interventions. A remote solution is quicker for both the contractors and their customers.”

Another aspect of ActiveFM that keeps maintenance costs low is the level of detail it provides about refrigeration issues.

“Other remote monitoring systems only alert to a ‘refrigeration problem’ but ActiveFM provides insights into the severity of the problem,” Richard explains. “Using ActiveFM, it’s possible to see whether the alarm is transitory and if it will clear before any stock is lost or temperatures rise above the legal limit. This is especially useful if the alarm occurs out-of-hours. If no immediate action is required, a service visit can be scheduled at a time when it’s more convenient and cost-effective.”

Overall, the granular data insight ActiveFM provides its detailed alert system helps food retailers ensure stable refrigeration for regulatory compliance, prevent stock loss to minimise food waste, and reduce energy use.