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Hotels And Temperature Sensors: Action, Not Reaction

Apr 26, 2013

Hotel owners have a lot on their plates. And so often, most of us are misled to think "if it ain't broken, don't fix it," or "if it hasn't been problematic, don't throw a solution at it", and this does include hotel owners as well. A smart owner or manager will be sensitive to precautionary actions and aversion strategies, whereas the unprepared owner may spend more time reacting to problems and troubleshooting unforeseen complications. Life throws curveballs to all people and businesses, but most critical maintenance and upkeep issues within hotel management aren't that difficult to anticipate and/or avert. The question becomes, will you be ahead of the pack with the implementation of new strategies and technologies in your hotel, or will you be stuck with the raw consequences by failing to stay ahead?

 

"My refrigerators are working just fine, what do I need a temperature sensor for?"

This is probably the most common fallacy in the hotel management industry. At the very basic level, food safety guidelines are well outlined by the USDA, and temperature monitoring has long been an important piece for the assurance of safe food practices. While refrigerators and freezers may have their own temperature sensors (installed within the unit), a third party sensor is invaluable to assuring food safety.

A power outage is a perfect example. If a power outage was to occur in the wee hours of the night for a contained period (let's say, 3 hours), the storage units would still register normative readings once power is restored (or may even need to be reset). The trouble is ingrained in the timeframe, 3 hours of lost refrigeration/freezer power can lead to unspeakable losses in spoiled foods and liquids. Storage temperatures may drastically fluctuate during this time period, and these temperature excursions (without a third party sensor) often go undocumented. 

It gets worse; these tainted items may appear to be "still good", and even with the awareness that an outage may have occurred, definitive temperature data is absent from the equation. You may have missed the 20 degree rise in temperature that spanned a period of two hours, and you may be serving a chopped salad that contains Salmonella. The missed temperature readings can easily lead to bacterial growth.

There is a solution that addresses the undocumented temperature readings, and even provides alerting capabilities that highlight a "power outage" once it occurs. While power outages can't necessarily be averted (unless a backup generator is present), a temperature sensor with battery backup is an excellent solution. Typically, these devices will switch to the battery once AC power is lost, and some can send alert notifications based on the power switch. With the battery backup, the temperature sensor will continue transmitting readings during the downtime, and when power is restored, the data can be used to determine whether food spoilage or prolonged exposure has occurred

If a generator is present and power loss isn't a problem, the continued monitoring is still an important action to undertake. Refrigeration/freezer systems can malfunction, fail, or even become compromised by poor storage practices. If vents or cooling coils are blocked by excessive storage, the relative temperature within will not necessarily match the programmed settings. A temperature sensor is a primary indicator of malfunction or failure, and timely alerting can expose the onset of this type of issue before it develops further. Again, the key is to anticipate failure and take action. 


"The pool is always heated, why should I bother monitoring the temperature?"

A heated pool is quite an attraction for hotel guests (especially on a cooler day). For a hotel owner, it represents a promise to deliver a pool that dwells on a particular temperature point. It's not too difficult to deliver on this promise, most pools have simple settings to enable a constant temperature. And yet, pools are complex systems that rely on a number of internal processes, which include heat pumps. If the heat pumps fail, the pool can quickly become cold. Here's a review snippet from a popular travel site that frankly states the effect of a cold pool on an expectant guest. 

"When I called, the day before we arrived to make a reservation I specifically asked about the indoor hot tub and heated pool. They did not tell me the hot tub was out of order. They did say the pool was heated, but it is was so cold we couldn't even get in it. The only reason I was willing to pay so much for the rooom was because I was looking for an indoor hot tub and heated pool because it was winter"

And there you have it: Deliver on your promises, and be aware of failure. The bolded section highlights the importance of this concept, as guests should be informed if there is an issue with a heated pool. If not, this type of comment shows how a broken promise can negatively affect the experience of guests. Again, use action, and prevent this type of guest reaction.

Ultimately, by installing sensors for a heated pool, variances in temperature can be detected, addressed, and fixed. Don't merely assume that a heated pool will always stay heated, and the periodic maintenance check may not expose a potential problem. Heat pumps may not be at maximum efficiency, and while the pool temperature is still acceptably "heated", a failure may be on the horizon once the efficiency problem evolves into a major disaster.

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