For many food retailers, 2020 has represented unprecedented spikes in demand levels for chilled and frozen products. This trend is set to continue with the festive season approaching. In order to meet customer expectation and retain market share, retailers must react quickly to put in place additional food displays and cold storage facilities.
A Retail Week survey found that one third of shoppers expect most of their Christmas spend to go on grocery, including purchases of meat, dairy products and other chilled food. Since for many retailers the Christmas stock exceeds their usual cooling capacities, mobile coldrooms are put in place on-site to support the increased demand. Seasonal offers that are on display in supermarkets, such as cheeses or meat, are often presented in mobile self-contained refrigerated cases and placed strategically around the store.
Integrating mobile coldrooms and display cases into the existing refrigeration controls system can be complicated and time-consuming, which is never ideal at the best of times but especially stressful during the holiday season. To monitor and control the temperature in mobile coldrooms, one option would be to install control systems and connect them to the existing building management system (BMS), or to control and monitor the temperatures manually.
The first option can be difficult and time-consuming to realise with wired systems and might not be considered worthwhile for such a short period of time. The latter option will also be time-consuming, as staff need to manually monitor and record temperatures to comply with food safety regulations, a labour-intensive process during the busiest time of the year. Wireless Bluetooth control and monitoring systems provide an easy-to-install, user-friendly solution.
Bluetooth Solutions for Food Retail Refrigeration
Resource Data Management (RDM) offers a range of devices with Bluetooth capabilities that can be used in commercial refrigeration, including battery powered temperature probes, communication modules for cabinet and coldroom controllers, and wireless Input / Output (I/O) modules. RDM’s Bluetooth system utilizes a Mesh topology, which is a robust, reliable wireless system, ideal for picking up multiple data points or controlling simple outputs. The Bluetooth mesh system has resilience and redundancy built-in. RDM’s Bluetooth communication and I/O modules form part of the Mesh system, communicating with each other and allowing data to hop from one device to the next, to be routed via reliable and flexible paths to their destination. The battery-powered probe does not communicate with other devices, but connects to the Mesh infrastructure by sending data directly to Bluetooth access points. All RDM Bluetooth devices can communicate via Access Points with RDM’s control system head-end DMTouch.
Depending on the retailer’s needs each RDM Bluetooth solution offers different benefits. The battery powered probe is ideal for placing it in mobile cases with no power supply conveniently accessible. It will send temperature data to the DMTouch and switch to sleep mode when not in use to increase the battery’s life span. In the event of a communications loss, the probe will log the temperature readings, transmitting them once a connection is restored.
RDM’s cabinet and coldroom controller, Mercury 3, comes with a temperature display built-in. When used with a plug-in Bluetooth communication module, temperature data can be sent wirelessly to the DMTouch. Easy-to-install and with high and low temperature control options, the Bluetooth version is an ideal solution for seasonal use.
The four-input mesh module is connected to the existing control system, thereby eliminating the need for manual recordings. It can also act as a booster to strengthen the signal for other devices. The module’s probe inputs can also be configured as digital inputs to monitor faults within the cabinets.
The two-input/output mesh module offers the same benefits of the four-input device plus the capability to control cabinet functions. For example, when integrated into the store’s PLC strategy, it can be used to streamline efficiencies such as turning display case lights off at the end of the day.
All RDM Bluetooth solutions can transmit their data to RDM’s control and monitoring system head-end DMTouch. With the exception of the Temperature Probe, the Bluetooth modules utilize continuous data transmission as often as every 15 seconds. With user-friendly software built-in, DMTouch offers a range of data management, compliance and energy-saving features such as storing temperature data for over five years, displaying energy trends and providing consumption statistics. Once an RDM Bluetooth Access Point is connected to the DMTouch it will then allow communication between RDM Bluetooth solutions and the DMTouch. Additionally, the DMTouch is based on open protocols, enabling it to communicate with third-party controls throughout the store.
Not needing to install new wires for temporary cooling solutions makes Bluetooth controls the ideal choice to meet the refrigeration control and monitoring needs for a short period of the year through a secure connection. Thus protecting your assets.
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