Introducing the Zenput Connected Store and the Promise of IoT for Operators

By Pete Schott

Interest and demand for internet-connected devices continues to rise. For restaurant, retail, and other multi-unit operators, it represents innovation and coming into the digital age; but more importantly its potential benefits such as process automation, safety improvements, and increased productivity hold real promise. What we’ve found however, is that operators realize the most value when IoT devices are used in parallel with improved operations processes and technologies.

Since 2012 we’ve worked with all types and sizes of operators looking to improve operations execution: from global brands to 20-unit local franchisees aiming to improve each store’s ability to effectively follow brand standards, rollout operation-wide food safety initiatives, and more. To build on that value for our customers, we recently announced the Zenput Connected Store, an expansion of our IoT solutions that integrate devices with our core platform. 

As part of that announcement, we introduced Zenput Temp Monitoring, which feeds signals from temperature sensor devices into Zenput and gives multi-unit operators real-time visibility into food safety conditions. By connecting to temperature sensors, Zenput customers are able to automatically log temperatures of make lines, walk-in coolers, and other equipment, check temperatures in real-time from anywhere, and receive alerts they go out of a defined range. This new capability complements our other IoT solutions including Zenput Labels for food preparation labeling, and our bluetooth thermometer sync for probing product in stores.

IoT devices create more value when paired with digitized operations processes

As powerful as internet connected devices can be, if used in isolation–in paper-based workflows or alongside legacy operations technology–there’s only so much value they can add. The real promise of using IoT devices in multi-unit operations comes when those devices can talk directly to a digital operations platform to supplement all of the other work and information being tracked across every store, from field audits to daily or weekly store checklists, and more. 

One company, we spoke with recently, which is undergoing its own digital transformation, was using bluetooth probes to track temperatures of meat and other products. They were thrilled to have this new technology being rolled out in their stores, but employees were actually logging the temperatures on paper checklists. 

With each reading the employee placed the probe, put it down, picked up their paper form, wrote the temperature, put down the paper form, picked up the probe, wiped down the prob, then moved on to the next item. You can see the problem: there was perceived value in using a digital tool, but lots of time was being wasted with so many little extra movements. If the devices were used with a digital operations execution solution, the temperatures would automatically be logged within a digital form on their phone or tablet. The employee could run through capturing temperatures on a makeline in seconds.

Similarly, an operator can get value out of using a digital temperature sensor in their walk-in cooler today. However, it’s infinitely more valuable if alerts, logs, and other information are captured in the app or platform that already houses all of the other information that you track everyday, and those temperatures can trigger alerts and follow-up tasks that your teams will then act on.

By pairing the use of IoT devices with innovative process strategies and technologies, teams have a single location to track all of the work they’re doing, and by having all of the data in one place, operations leaders can use insights to make smarter decisions.

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