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Five Guys Uses Sensors to Keep Things Fresh

The burger franchise is installing battery-powered wireless sensors in all of its restaurants' coolers, prep rooms and milkshake machines to ensure the proper temperatures of its ingredients.
By Claire Swedberg

The sensors capture temperature information and transmit it every five minutes to a Point Six gateway, which captures that data and forwards it to the cloud-based server hosted by CM Systems. How often the device transmits data to the server is configurable, says Thom Schmitt, CM Systems' COO. "They can identify how those parameters should be set."

ComplianceMate Food Safety Management Software captures, stores and reports that data, then displays it so that Five Guys can monitor temperatures in specific restaurants at particular times. The software also issues alerts in the event that temperatures are either too warm (for instance, if a cooler is not operating properly, or if a door is left ajar) or too cold (which could potentially freeze the food items).

CM Systems' Thom Schmitt
In addition, CM Systems provides a Bluetooth-enabled temperature probe that staff members use with an Android tablet running a ComplianceMate app. The probe transmits data to the tablet, which forwards that information to the server, while the tablet can display an alert for users on its screen so that they can immediately take corrective action. The users then follow the app's prompts to indicate how they resolved the issue, such as discarding the affected product.

The solution is available for an initiation fee, Schmitt says, after which monthly fees are charged, using a software-as-a-service model.

The ComplianceMate system has reduced labor costs at each restaurant, Gibson reports, since personnel no longer need to manually log temperature results using pen and paper, and his company is thus assured that the numbers are accurate. The solution has also caught temperature problems as they occurred, before they could lead to the discarding of thousands of dollars' worth of raw ingredients. Most importantly, he adds, it helps ensure that the product is safe for customers. "It's a valuable tool to have," Gibson states. "I think of it as extra insurance."

The historical data from the system also allows Five Guys to track the health of its coolers, predict when one might fail (based on temperature readings taken over time) and replace that unit before a complete failure can occur.

Now, the restaurant chain is adding the wireless sensors to its milkshake machines. Several locations have added this equipment during the past year or so, and more are coming online as the milkshake offering expands across all of Five Guys' restaurants. A Point Six sensor installed in each machine's hopper, the company explains, is used to verify that the product remains at the proper temperature throughout the day.

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