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SmartLock: An Essential Tool For Protecting Food Safety

a 2 door Minus Forty commercial refrigerator opposite seating area and shelving in a micro market

Anyone who watched television in the 1960s remembers The Jetsons. The popular sci-fi show revolved around the day-to-day activities of a nuclear family living in 2062, in a world where flying cars, robots and smart appliances were everyday items. Who didn’t wish for a Rosie the Robot of their own, the miraculous maid who could talk, run errands, shop for food and whip up meals in a matter of seconds?

We’re still decades away from 2062, but technology has been progressing by leaps and bounds, particularly in the food retail space. From IoT-enabled refrigerators to automated dishwashers, demand for smart appliances is on the rise. While fridges and freezers haven’t started operating autonomously, they are becoming smarter about a lot of things. Soon, it’s not hard to imagine them talking to us and telling us when their shelves need to be stocked or telling the retailer our age and gender as we open the door, letting us know when food is bad, even greeting us by name much like a Rosie the Robot would.

When Minus Forty began building refrigerators and freezer merchandisers almost 30 years ago, we adopted new technologies as soon as they became available like deploying environmentally friendly R290 refrigerants to make our units as energy efficient as possible. To guard against food spoilage and the business and reputational losses it can cause, in 2014 we created the NAMA-certified SmartLock™ health timer. Innovative when it was launched, it’s still an industry leader.

The SmartLock health timer constantly monitors the interior storage temperature and safeguards stored food products by locking the merchandiser when a pre-set safety limit is reached. The SmartLock system’s battery back-up ensures the food safety system functions during a power outage.  Designed to meet local health department regulations that require lockout mechanisms in the event of a high temperature event, SmartLock was a game changer. The first health timer device with a dual functional controller, it both monitors the freezer/cooler functions while also controlling the fully integrated health timer locking device.

Originally offered on single door coolers and freezers, SmartLock is now available on double door coolers to allow merchandising of perishable food products alongside beverages in the same unit. Feedback from industry stakeholders indicated a strong demand for this new configuration and by comparison to two single door locking coolers, the 43-UDGR cooler with SmartLock cuts purchase costs by approximately 25% while narrowing the footprint. 

It might not be 2062, but SmartLock has brought us a bit closer to a world where technology helps keep us safer, even if it doesn’t entertain us the way Rosie did. More importantly it helps our customers feel confident that their state-of-the-art merchandisers ensure that no unsafe product ever gets sold.

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