Here at Carlson & Stewart Refrigeration we hear something like this all too often: “My cooler/freezer quit working last night….now all of my product is lost.”
What do you do if your cooler or freezer stops working when you are away? More than likely you have something inside of that cooler or freezer that is valuable, right? So how do you protect that investment?
There are a variety of ways to protect that investment such as system redundancy, preventative and/or predictive maintenance, system monitoring of may types, etc. For this article, I’d like to discuss system monitoring.
When it comes to a cooler or freezer the most important thing is that it stay cold inside, right? One of the simplest things you can do is monitor the temperature. Usually you will be able to react in time to save your product if you are aware that the temperature is rising. So how do you know when the temperature is rising if there is no one at the facility? There are a variety of options and manufacturers of equipment to do just this. Oh, and the cost of these different options varies pretty dramatically.
There are 3 different levels of monitoring that come to my mind.
- Smart Thermostat
- Dedicated web based monitoring system
- Full blown PLC based control system with remote access and monitoring.
I haven’t really tried this in a commercial application but…..
In my last home I had a pretty basic smart thermostat. This thermostat connected via wifi to the internet and it had the ability to send me an email if it noticed something out of whack. On those really hot humid days, I regularly got emails telling me there might be something wrong with my air conditioning because the house temperature was several degrees above the set point.
So I ask myself, why couldn’t I use something as simple as this in a walk in cooler or freezer. I guess you have to look at the equipment specs to make sure it could handle being inside of a cooler or freezer. And you need to have power and wifi internet available.
Otherwise this seems like an inexpensive potential solution.
Dedicated Web Based Monitoring System
There are a couple different varieties that fit into this bucket. First of all there are those system that when installed require some type of subscription. With this subscription comes a pretty sophisticated web site that allows you to access and monitor a variety of different sensors that are connected to your system.
Then there are a couple that do not require a subscription. In these systems, the interface and access for monitoring is much less sophisticated.
In both cases, multiple sensors of different types (temperature, humidity, water, CO2, motion, etc) are available and can be monitored with a single system. Once the parameters are set up the system with email, text, and in some cases call you.
PLC Based Control System
These system are nice in the fact that they do everything. Not only do they do everything that the above systems do but they also do all of the control of your refrigeration equipment. So these systems are typically used in large systems with multiple coolers, cases and compressors. They are basically custom pieces of equipment, programmed specifically for your system. So the sky is almost the only limitation in regards to what you can do. Obviously, these are the most costly option.
I am sure that there are other types of systems that I am not aware of. But the point is, there are cost effective options for monitoring and notifying you of problems with your refrigeration systems. Give Carlson & Stewart Refrigeration a call and we can help you find a solution that meets your needs.