Ye Ol' Geezer Meat Shop Chills Out With the IoT

A lot is riding on this butcher's equipment, especially when the mercury breaks 100 degrees in the Utah desert, so the shop owners have turned to internet-networked sensors to keep tabs on its coolers and freezers remotely.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Jul 28, 2016

The Internet of Things is cropping up in some very unexpected places. Take, for example, Ye Ol' Geezer Meat Shop, a family-run business in Moab, a town of 5,000 inhabitants in eastern Utah. "My mom and dad never took a vacation," says Henry Evans, whose parents opened Ye Ol' Geezer Meat Shop in 1994. Someone always had to be around to make sure the coolers and freezers were running properly. Since his father retired, his mother now visits the shop seven days a week, just to keep an eye on things.

Though most of the shop's equipment is three or four decades old, the only significant malfunction the business has suffered was one broken compressor, which was quickly fixed. But the fear of a major failure occurring in the middle of the night or on a Sunday or Monday, when the shop is closed, always haunts the Evans family. A broken cooler or freezer could not only be a major capital expenditure, but also potentially cost them several thousand dollars in lost inventory.

The store mounts a sensor on each of its freezers (shown here inside each red circle) to monitor the temperatures of its meats.
In recent years, Henry Evans had started hearing more and more about IoT technology, so the self-described geek decided to start Googling for a system that could monitor the temperatures inside the freezers and coolers. "I figured there had to be something—an app we could use on our phones, so that me or my mom could check it anytime," he says.

Evans admits he did not spend a great deal of time searching or deliberating over what to buy. "Monnit was the first vendor I saw on my search," he recalls. "The main thing I liked is that they're based in Salt Lake City, which is so close." He called the company, explained what he wanted, and says he received a quick reply. "It's exactly what I needed," he says of the system.

Temperature sensors mounted inside the store's 13 coolers and freezers take readings every 10 minutes and transmit that data to a central gateway. If the temperatures within the units fall below a set threshold, the gateway triggers an alert, which is routed to Monnit's cloud-based server via the butcher shop's Wi-Fi network and then arrives on Evans' and his mother's cellphones as an SMS text alert.

Evans was able to install the sensors himself, by drilling holes in the cooler and freezer cases so that the sensors themselves could be mounted inside the units and the radios could be mounted outside the cases, in order to ensure a good read range. Each sensor is powered by two AA batteries and should run for three to five years, based on the 10-minute reading intervals (when set to report at less frequent intervals, battery life can be extended to seven years or more).

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