Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Digi Honeycomb lets transportation companies monitor perishable goods

Steve Rogerson
May 17, 2016



Digi International has introduced Honeycomb, an easy to deploy service that continuously and wirelessly monitors the temperature of perishable goods, alerting users if the proper temperature is not maintained.
 
With Honeycomb, restaurants, grocers, convenience stores, warehouses and transportation companies can prevent spoilage and loss, lower labour costs, and comply with public health requirements and food safety regulations.
 
A subscription-based service, Digi Honeycomb is comprised of hand-held probes, wireless sensors, gateways and software that allow temperature data to be monitored, logged and retrieved, and be integrated into back-office systems. In delivering a complete system that encompasses front-of-house and back-of-house environments, Honeycomb allows organisations in the perishable food industry to address major difficulties including, food safety, chain-of-custody verification, loss prevention (shrinkage), proof of compliance and labour costs.
 
"Our customers in the food service industry have their own set of unique challenges that span operational and food safety requirements," said Kevin Riley, chief operating officer at Digi International. "We have created a highly automated service that allows organisations to address the day-to-day issues of maintaining food quality and safety while lowering costs and achieving overarching goals of high customer satisfaction and brand reputation."
 
Digi Honeycomb is an NSF certified and National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) traceable system that continuously, wirelessly and automatically monitors the temperature of food to allow food service organisations to adhere to performance thresholds and inspect individual systems. Automatic alerts can be set for all types of temperatures – frozen, refrigerated, ambient and hot-holding – and to issue alerts whenever temperature exceptions occur. It is comprised of Bluetooth enabled hand-held probes, small wireless sensors, wireless gateways and applications.
 
Unlike probes that simply allow users to read current temperature, the Honeycomb probe works with the Honeycomb temperature application to simplify the process of probing and monitoring the temperature of food items. With interchangeable probe tips for measuring a wide range of temperature applications, the probe is a wireless, food-grade device automatically activated by a change in temperature.
 
Temperatures gathered with the probe are wirelessly delivered to the temperature application, typically installed on an Android or iOS tablet. The temperature application guides employees through the step-by-step process of probing, approving and submitting data to the application, which contains all food items needing to be probed and allows the user to log corrective actions for products outside of the acceptable temperature range.
 
Sensors can be installed in front-of-house and back-of-house equipment such as walk-in refrigerators and freezers, under counter coolers, showcase units and sandwich lines. In addition to temperature monitoring, it can be designed to identify when door exceptions and potential equipment failure – for example, stuck in defrost cycle – occurs.
 
Installed in front-of-house and back-of-house locations, the Honeycomb gateway collects and uploads all temperature data for processing, eliminating the need for staff to record or enter temperatures manually into a computer at a later time. These data are then accessible by the application on a mobile device or laptop or for integrating into back-office systems.
 
The dashboard application for managers to monitor and review the temperatures of all refrigeration equipment provides alerts and warnings of equipment irregularities and temperature analytics for all store equipment containing Honeycomb sensors. Accessible via mobile device or PC, Honeycomb can provide various reports and views. Organisations can produce process-based compliance reports for documentation to be accessible during regulatory inspections, recover historical temperatures that occurred during power outages, and view the summary status of groups of devices.
 
Digi cold-chain consulting staff employ a three-step approach to ensure a successful implementation. First, Digi conducts a site survey and completes hardware and software installation. Secondly, organisations receive usability training and Digi confirms monitoring and report requirements. Finally, Digi works collaboratively to ensure RoI goals are being met.
 
Honeycomb is available in subscription-based models for retail fast-food restaurants, hazard analysis critical control points and NIST environments, and requires no capital expense. Hardware and software is included as part of the subscription with information hosted on servers managed by Digi.