Curriculum Calls for Environmental Monitoring

Aug. 24, 2009
Food safety is critical to student well-being

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.

According to Harp, the district is adding two new schools over the next few years. “As our district adds new schools, we would without a doubt install this monitoring solution in our new facilities. The EnviroAlert EA800 is very reliable and provides great peace of mind to our staff as we know we are providing healthy and safe meals to our children.”

Caroline McGowan is the Marketing Coordinator for Winland Environmental Security. To learn more about their products, visit


Advantech Unveiled: How to Succeed

Advantech General Manager Lee Thompson believes his company continues to be successful because of its reputation for delivering great customer service. “No headaches for the customer,” is a company mantra and it appears to be working.

Incorporated in 1990, Advantech is an integrated security solutions provider specializing in commercial and residential solutions. With 35 employees, the company is licensed in Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Communication and training of personnel keeps employees current on the many technologies available in the marketplace. “We work as a team,” said Thompson. “If a customer has a problem, we solve it. It is then presented to all employees to increase the knowledge base within the organization. They mentor one another so success is generated across the board--for our customers, contractors and Advantech.”

Asked how the business is growing during the current economic environment, Thompson referenced the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). “We are helping our customers write grant proposals to secure funds that are allocated by ARRA,” continued Thompson. “We hope if the funds are dispersed, they will engage Advantech to perform the work. But core to our continued success is our long-standing relationships with existing customers. We don’t walk away when an installation is complete. Instead, we do routine follow-ups to ensure systems are running efficiently and to maintain personal connections within our service areas. They know they can count on Advantech and continue to call us for service and refer us to other new clients.”