Delaware’s Milford School District serves approximately 1,200 breakfasts and 2,600 lunches daily to the students located in five area schools. Keeping thousands of dollars of food safe through adequate refrigeration requires the staff to monitor 13 coolers and eight freezers 24/7 all year long. When school is in session, staff spends time away from food preparation and service to monitor the equipment located inside and outside the facilities, but when summer arrives, the district employs fewer personnel, creating a greater demand for a more efficient way to monitor its equipment.
Milford wanted to move from a reactive monitoring system to a proactive solution that would be easy to install, easy to operate and provide effective monitoring of all its refrigeration systems along with peace of mind to food service personnel. The school district turned to Winland Environmental Security Products recommended by Advantech Inc. and achieved the success they wanted.
“We had been engaged with the Milford School District to upgrade their security monitoring systems,” said Lee Thompson, general manager at Advantech, a systems integration company specializing in access control, video surveillance, intrusion detection, fire alarm/life safety, communications and identity management solutions. “When asked to add food storage monitoring to the system, we recommended the Winland EnviroAlert® EA800 as it could be tied into the existing security monitoring system easily and is very easy to operate.”
The Winland EnviroAlert® EA800 is a wireless environmental monitoring solution designed to monitor up to eight separate sensors--four wireless and four hardwired--for critical environmental conditions, including temperature, humidity, water presence, and dry contact devices (NO and NC). A graphical LCD display allows for easy programming and minimal end-user training. Additionally, the EA800 retrieves and logs sensor data as well as event and alarm history as frequently as once every 30 seconds or up to once every hour. This offers end-users employee-free monitoring to meet the Department of Agriculture’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) requirements. The system is password protected for increased security.
Nice niche—food monitoring
“Installing the system has created a new awareness of food storage monitoring within our buildings,” said Beverly Harp, Child Nutrition Supervisor for the Milford School District. “The LCD display allows employees to monitor cooler temperatures when loading and unloading food. If doors are left propped open, an alarm will sound when the temperature deviates from programmed high or low limits.”
By integrating the unit with the new security system, staff can easily monitor all coolers and refrigerators district wide. The system designates specific individuals, such as maintenance, janitorial and food service, to be contacted should an alarm sound, a better alternative than the local police responding to a non-emergency.
“The EnviroAlert EA800 was designed for just this type of application,” said Keith Ebert, Eastern Territory Sales Manager for Winland. “As food prices rise and budgets are squeezed, it offers Milford School District a monitoring solution that is easy to install and expand as demand requires. Other similar applications that demand similar controls include hospitals, healthcare facilities, convenience and grocery stores, medical facilities, hotels and resorts.”
Since installing the EnviroAlert EA800 last spring, the Milford School District has experienced two alarm calls. The first came at 5 a.m. at an elementary school when delivery personnel kept a freezer door ajar while unloading their truck. The second showed elevated temperature in one cooler. Upon review, maintenance discovered the refrigerant was low. In both instances, staff personnel were contacted and the problems were mitigated before food was compromised. With each cooler containing $3,000 to $4,000 worth of food, there has been no question concerning the return on investment.