13 December 2017
Ice cream is temperamental and can start changing quickly once the surrounding temperature is altered. One negligent moment of leaving a fridge open can spoil a lot of stock, leading to a double down of losses: goods and reputational damage. Yet with display fridges spread across the country in garage shops, supermarkets and cafes, it is impossible to control the ecosystem sufficiently. Compounding this are the traditional fridges, which though apt at cooling are not sophisticated enough to lend much of a hand. Replacing them all with modern equivalents is a huge and often debilitating cost.
Smollan, an international retail solutions company, partnered with IoT.nxt to develop a platform for this quandary. Utilising its Raptor gateway devices and Commander cloud platform, IoT.nxt has crafted a solution that brings stoic display fridges into the 21st century. A simple retrofitting operation transforms a fridge into an active data sentry, reporting the nuances of its operations.
Sensors are added if needed, monitoring metrics such as the interior temperature, ambient temperature, door usage and status, power usage, and even location. It may not be a surprise that such fridges are attractive targets for criminals, because they are well-designed and convenient appliances. But by leveraging internet of things technologies, they can be geo-fenced.
The ice cream operator now enjoys a full view of its entire fridge territory, from a top-down overview right up to individual fridges. By utilising GSM networks, all the monitoring is in real-time, while the data is collected and presented intuitively through the Commander dashboards. This data is then analysed to extract real insights, enabling companies to build long-term strategy around fridge behaviours, perhaps even predicting when stock levels will run low.
But to a more fundamental advantage, each fridge can trigger alarms if it encounters problems. A fridge door left open can be alerted through the dashboards, as well as email and sms messages. Events can also be escalated if nothing happens. Yet the true advantage here is that the workflow for these events can be set and adjusted by the fridge operator. By utilising a drag-and-drop interface, IoT.nxt’s system makes sense with the smallest amount of introduction. Those who own the platform can adjust and expand it as they see fit.
Managing ice cream and avoiding fridge theft once seemed like insurmountable problems that only a massive replacement initiative could have addressed. But well-crafted IoT technologies make it possible to modernise existing display fridges at a fraction of the cost and in very little time. That same improvement opens the doors to intuitive analytics that start delivering even more value beyond avoiding freezer burn. Made in Africa, this solution is tried-and-tested for the continent’s hot summers, which can now be even more lucrative with less risk.
In the past, ice cream operators could only hold their thumbs and hope for the best. Now, though, they can enjoy actual insight and exercise real control in the now and into the future. This is the power of IoT, created by Smollan and IoT.nxt.