Implemented advanced incident management program
Integrated system with IoT and database vendor
Kroger automates incident management of refrigerated food monitoring
In retail, you’re only as good as the products you sell. When it comes to food, and especially refrigerated and frozen foods, maintaining quality is more than just a question of driving customer loyalty and minimizing loss—it’s a real health risk. For compliance, refrigerators and freezers must stay between predetermined temperature ranges. Every year, food-borne illnesses affect 48 million Americans, sending 120,000 to the hospital and causing 3,000 deaths.
Fortunately, innovative technology is transforming how retailers manage this risk. Kroger has more than 2,000 stores in 34 states recently implemented a modernization project combining Internet of Things (IoT) technology and automated incident management for its refrigerated and frozen food program.
Prior to the modernization project, in-store staff monitored freezer temperatures manually every four hours. Depending on the size of the store and the scale of the incident, the challenge could often be complex, time-consuming and prone to human error.
To improve the effectiveness of its food risk management program as well as reduce the related risks, Kroger began partnering with xMatters in 2014.
Prior to xMatters, a ticket often generated a mass email, usually because the escalation process couldn’t identify the right team member to address the temperature issues. xMatters implemented an incident management system that combined staff schedules and rotations with an escalation path.
With xMatters, incidents are now handled with a robust process that includes SMS messages to identified staff, emails and phone calls to management, and automated announcements over the in-store system. Kroger reduced MTTRs to less than two minutes—from creating and queuing a ticket to confirming ownership by a technical resource.
“Our customers expect excellent service and safe food,” says Dan Wiley, Team Lead-Monitoring and Event Management Team. “We’re proud that we can do that every day. xMatters has been an invaluable partner, making our management of refrigerated and frozen foods much more effective.”
The xMatters communication platform integrates with the Kroger’s other technology vendors and a new Internet of Things (IoT) program to completely automate refrigerator and frozen food temperature management. Sensors monitor temperatures and record temperatures to a central database, signaling incidents to the xMatters platform when they arise.
The reliable incident management system has had a massive impact. Consider: Each store contains approximately 200 sensors. Nationwide, Kroger manages more than 25,000 refrigeration incidents every day. As of 2015, the xMatters incident management platform is operating in more than 1,000 stores.
The system has also helped create a significant cultural shift. Kroger implemented a robust awareness and training program around refrigeration best practices and significantly increased transparency and accountability. Most importantly, Kroger reformed staff behaviors around temperature management by bringing on a platform that streamlines incident management and keeps its shoppers safe.
“As an integral part of the communities we serve, we have a special responsibility to reliably manage the quality of our foods,” says Will Keaney, Technology Engineer. “xMatters has been an instrumental partner in meeting our Customer First Strategy.”