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How the IoT keeps Ben & Jerry’s ice cream safe

Michelle Davidson | May 18, 2016
Smart technology such as temperature sensors help Udder Ventures keep freezers at its Ben & Jerry's franchises running and prevent ice cream meltdowns.

The sensors run on a quarter-size battery that will last two years, and they operate long range—200 feet to 300 feet through walls, Walters said.

Monnit’s sensors operate on low-frequency wireless technology Monnit developed specifically for IoT. Many other companies use existing wireless technology, which is less efficient and less reliable for IoT devices, he said.

“A lot of the companies out there are typically trying to use existing wireless technologies like Wi-Fi to deliver IoT connectivity,” Walters said. “The challenge is Wi-Fi was developed for streaming audio or streaming a video. It’s like using a Mack truck to try and deliver a little red wagon worth of data. So, inherently it’s much less efficient.”

Walters also said Wi-Fi-based sensors consume much more battery power, and transmit about one-fifth the range of Monnit sensors.

Slater said the sensor system was relatively inexpensive and easy to install, and it provides useful information—more than what Slater said he could get from any other sensor system.

“I took out the security system’s probe in the freezer, inserted the Monnit probe, put a battery in the sensor, logged into the iMonnit portal and turned the sensor on. And immediately my probe started feeding me information,” he said.

And when the system issues an alert, it includes detailed information to help Slater quickly determine if it’s an emergency or not.

When Slater gets an alert, he can log in to the portal via the iMonnit app or through Monnit’s web-based software. The online software uses SSL encryption for web access, and user access and permissions are managed through the software once logged in as an administrator for their account.

The software supports a variety of user permissions that the administrator controls, ranging from `view-only’ for individual sensor networks to creating additional administrators at the account level (and everything in between). For example, a user can have manage capabilities for one sensor network and view-only permission for all other sensor networks on the account.

Monnit also provides local PC software (Monnit Express), which runs on the user’s computer and does not need access to the internet. The software is limited to 10 wireless gateways and 50 wireless sensors at a time.

The data can also be exported to APIs to run in a company’s own applications.

Data allows for better business decisions

Slater said the alerts from the Monnit system provide useful information, which helps him make good decisions—does he need to wake up a manager to go into the store, does he need to call an emergency 24/7 repair person, or can he relax because he knows the defrost cycle triggered the alert?

“It’s a lot smarter than the security system I used to have,” he said. “And the whole thing, including a year’s subscription to the portal, is about $300. It’s a minor investment for all of the information you get and compared with the cost of lost product.”

 

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