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Food safety equipment: the surprise hardware issues restaurants forget

Facilities and equipment management is a critical but often overlooked aspect of running a restaurant. According to FSR Magazine, restaurant chains that lack clear processes and technology for managing issues like repairs spend as much as 50% more on facilities costs than the industry average. So, when choosing the equipment that’s critical to your food safety operations, make sure you think through the hardware issues that can increase the lifetime cost, and reduce the effectiveness, of the purchase.

Can sensor transmitter signals make it through a dense restaurant or production environment?

Many temperature sensors can’t broadcast through the walls of the cold-holding unit, or they can only do so with structural changes (drilling). Sure, you can buy a cheap wireless sensor, but what good is wireless if you’re still having to walk up to it every time, or if you have to drill through the cooler, and void its warranty, for the device to work? Remember to always ask about the frequency and transmit power of the wireless food safety equipment you use.

Will hardware issues raise the lifetime cost of ownership?

Let’s flip the previous example: you’ve found a sensor that’s powerful enough to transmit out from your freezer and cooler, but it fires back so much more that it burns up the battery faster, necessitating frequent replacements. That will increase total cost of ownership by multiples. Ask about the expected lifespan of the equipment and its component parts. For more food safety cost of ownership considerations, read our article, “What’s the true cost of when automating your brand checklist?

Will equipment failure and maintenance issues overwhelm the device’s benefits?

The thermostat piece of temperature monitoring equipment can be surprisingly fragile and susceptible to failure, particularly in cheap devices. In our experience, the thermostat is one of the biggest replacement items restaurants face. Full-on failure isn’t the only issue, either. If the thermostat doesn’t work consistently or isn’t exactly accurate, you can see temp variances that fall out of spec. For more information, read “Are your Bluetooth temperature probes as accurate as you need them to be?

Is the hardware really doing what you need it to do?

Many restaurants purchase hardware in isolation. “We just need a thermostat,” they think. But that’s not true: what most restaurants need is a system, and the hardware is just a piece of that. They purchase wireless sensors for the (real or imagined) convenience, not realizing that much of the actual convenience comes from associated software systems that automate logging and create automatic alerts when temperatures go out of spec. Always consider how the hardware will fit into your larger food safety practices and processes.

Read more about restaurant temperature monitoring, or contact ComplianceMate with your questions today.