25th June 2024

Automated fridge temperature monitoring for veterinary practices

Does it add up to good financial sense?

Amongst the many challenges facing veterinary practices today, accurate record keeping in terms of cold chain monitoring is yet another consideration in a busy day. Many practices are opting to choose more automated systems, from simple dataloggers through to smarter and more capable systems including out of temperature alerts and report generation, not just to speed up the process but also to maintain optimum levels of accuracy.

This move has been accelerated by the requirements of bodies such as the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme inspectorate, with the ability to take readings automatically at intervals through the day and also to generate comprehensive reports regarded as a positive benefit.

Combine this with the added complexity for large animal vets, who are transporting medicines and even tissue samples regularly in portable fridges in-vehicle whilst still subject to cold chain regulations, and the advantages of a more automated process become even more obvious. But do these obvious benefits stack up in terms of cost?

So what are the options?

The manual route

A manual system can work well when it is properly organised. However, they are time-consuming and subject to human error. Add in to that the vagaries of staff absences and holidays, and the time involved in compiling reports and spreadsheets for inspection, and the automated option begins to look far more attractive.

Based on the average veterinary nurse salary of £24,000 per year, spending 15-30 minutes a day checking fridge temperatures and recording results equates to around £5 per day, or well over £1500 per year. This will be significantly more if your practice operates a series of fridges in multiple locations with an added requirement for meds on the move, and does not allow for time spent compiling reports for inspection purposes.

Simple dataloggers

Dataloggers provide the next step up in automating the monitoring process. However, they also require a manual element in order to export and manipulate data. There are no alerts on

temperature outages and no battery backup to avoid loss of data. Reports cannot be generated automatically, data requires aggregation and there is no reliable audit trail.

They offer an inexpensive option in terms of purchase price, but still require considerable time input from a suitably qualified individual in order to make effective use of the data they collect.

Totally automated systems

In contrast, advancing technology now offers totally automated solutions for fridge monitoring which, alongside collection and secure storage of data, also offer real-time alerts on temperature outages and automatic generation of accurate and detailed reports.

What’s more, the best options are not reliant on local Wi-Fi or internet signals so continue to operate reliably using long-term battery back-up even in the event of power failures and/or internet issues.

In terms of cost, they are extremely competitive. As an example, the RemoteM system developed by Remote Monitoring Ltd costs just £30 per month for a base station capable of supporting up to 100 nodes, with just one node required per fridge, freezer or dispensary at £10 per month, per node.

The average vet practice operates four fridges, which means the monthly cost is just £70.00. This guarantees total accuracy, with readings taken every few minutes and stored in the cloud. The data can be accessed anywhere in the world, from any device, with reports generated and downloaded at the touch of a button.

Even more importantly, the 24/7 alerts system will make sure you know immediately if there’s a problem with any of your fridges – whether that’s due to power failure, appliance failure or even human error with doors left open. Many vet practices have saved thousands of pounds by avoiding stock losses, and some report reduced insurance premiums with automated systems in place.

Benefits of automated temperature monitoring systems

 So, to recap the argument for automating fridge temperature monitoring in veterinary practices – is it better and cheaper than dedicating vet nurse time to this repetitive task?

  • It’s easier, quicker and ultimately more reliable, as well as saving on staff time
  • You can easily collate records across multiple fridges and sites
  • You can even track stock on the move
  • 24/7 alerts on temperatures outside the pre-set limits prevent costly stock losses and disruptions to appointments or treatments
  • Installing automated systems has been demonstrated to have a positive effect on insurance premiums
  • The best systems continue to operate effectively even if power is out and internet signals are down

Increasing summer temperatures mean that ambient areas may also require monitoring, with some vet practices using nodes linked in to automated systems in dispensaries, kennels, operating theatres and animal recovery areas. These systems are always in operation, never take holidays and often cost less than the manual option.

Trial RemoteM in your veterinary practice

Find out more