IoT changes the game for IPM
Integrated pest management (IPM), like so many other aspects of our personal and professional lives, is rapidly moving into the digital age. This is partially because a critical component of IPM is communication. In order for a successful pest management program to be put in place, strong communication between those responsible for a facility and the pest management professionals on the job is as crucial as whether or not useful information is being provided by the pest management professional.
Today, the internet of things (IoT) has revolutionized how we communicate with each other and how we communicate with a wide range of devices. In pest management, rodent control devices are critical components of any effective pest management program, especially in a food-related facility, and the ability to communicate directly with these devices eliminates the traditional, time-consuming method of manually checking rodent traps. The integration of IoT thus makes pest management programs smarter, better and more efficient.
Timing Is Everything
Food industry professionals faced with the challenges of supporting a food safety management program (FSMP) know that prerequisite programs, whether it is a hand hygiene program or a pest management program, are the pillars on which a Preventive Controls Plan (PCP) or even a more basic HACCP Plan rests upon.
Until now, even the most sophisticated of food plants has been burdened with the labor intensive and time-consuming task of making sure that any rodent control device installed in their facility are physically checked on a regular basis in order to determine if there has been either a capture of a rodent or evidence of activity. In most facilities, whether there are 50 or 500 rodent devices installed, typically over 90% of those devices have not experienced any activity. This includes devices installed in hard to access areas, such as locked rooms or ceiling voids.
Depending on the number of devices installed, pest management professionals may take up to 75% of the service time checking empty traps, which may prevent these professionals from performing a more thorough inspection of more critical areas. This locks the pest control professional into operating along the perimeter wall when they should be moving into other sensitive areas in the facility.
IoT eliminates this time-consuming problem by allowing for electronic, digital monitoring of traps from remote locations. Activities and rodent capture alerts are instantaneously sent to a facility’s staff and external pest managers with a timestamp. Since timing can be critical in these contexts, this new technology can help to head off problems so that they do not go unchecked.
Covering All Bases
The latest pest management IoT systems provide constant monitoring with analytics and digital floorplans of multiple areas inside and outside a facility and, if needed, in multiple facilities as well. For example, some systems can collect activity in enabled bait stations and generate heat maps clearly indicating where rodent pressure is focused. Maintenance staff and pest managers can use this information to then generate action plans that make sure the interior and exterior environments are inhospitable to rodents.
The latest pest management IoT systems provide constant monitoring with analytics and digital floorplans of multiple areas inside and outside a facility and, if needed, in multiple facilities as well.
Technology often offers new ways to solve old problems. In the never-ending battle to maintain consistently high standards of hygiene in food facilities, keeping a pest-free environment is crucial. Electronic monitoring can be a powerful, transformational tool that is worth the investment.
By Steven Sklare, REHS/RS, CP-FS, LEHP, Food Safety Consultant & Adviser, Bayer Digital Pest Management Program.