How wireless temperature sensors stop pencil whipping

Learn how temperature monitoring minimizes the risks of pencil whipping and helps with pre-and post-service inspections and checks.

pencil whipping performed on a clipboard

Monitoring the temperature of cold storage equipment allows operators to avoid loss events, equipment breakdowns, and stay compliant with health regulations. Traditionally, this is conducted with pen and paper processes, such as filling out forms or health cards. One problem with this method is the possibility of pencil whipping. 

What is pencil whipping?

The term “pencil whipping” is an expression used to describe when workers, supervisors, and safety managers complete inspection paperwork without actually conducting a check. Pencil whipping often occurs when an employee is tasked with routine and monotonous compliance checks, such as checking the temperature of cold storage equipment. From the staff perspective, pencil-whipping is a time-saver. For management, paper records are difficult to audit, creating challenges to catching and retraining the behavior. 

Sadly, pencil whipping has been known to occur within the restaurant industry, particularly when pre-and post-service inspections and temperature checks conflict with sudden rushes or a skeleton crew. When this occurs, restaurant owners might think their cold storage is maintaining the necessary temperature for food storage, but in reality, they have been dangerously fluctuating over time.

Why is pencil whipping bad?

The consequences of pencil whipping range from health inspection fines and legal liability to sudden equipment breakdowns that cause downtime for a location. 

For health inspections, there is a significant legal liability if the action of pencil whipping leads to a serious food safety incident, such as bacterial contamination. Operators and employees can be fired or even prosecuted for false statements. 

Functioning refrigerators and freezers are necessary equipment for restaurants, however, they are prone to long-term wear and tear leading to breakdowns. Fluctuating temperatures are one of the first warning signs of mechanical failure. If employees are able to record and identify temperature fluctuations, maintenance can be called before equipment fails without warning. These fluctuations are incredibly hard to catch using paper records, even when the temperature is being correctly logged. 

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How manual checks needlessly expend restaurant labor hours 

Time spent conducting manual temperature checks varies depending on the business. Hannah Millburn of Moonstruck Chocolates estimates that her staff spent 30 minutes per day on manual temperature checks.

Those 30 minutes per day spent performing manual temperature checks also quickly add up, particularly in terms of productivity. This time could be better spent doing other vital tasks involved in running a successful business, such as:

  • Wiping down and sanitizing all surfaces
  • Tidying the dining area and setting the tables
  • Food preparation 
  • Organizing any incoming inventory deliveries
  • Tending to customers
  • Performing administrative tasks

How temperature monitoring helps with pre-and post-service inspections and checks

One of the best ways to avoid pencil whipping – and the human error involved in manual temperature checks altogether – is utilizing wireless temperature sensors. Wireless temperature monitoring minimizes the risks of pencil whipping, saves unnecessary labor costs, and avoids unnecessary inventory loss.

The current, manual temperature monitoring process is prone to create avoidable product loss. If an employee forgets to close a cooler, or a delivery team improperly shuts a walk-in freezer, restaurant operators may not catch the slip until hours later, resulting in food moving out of temperature. 

Temperature monitoring also helps to protect equipment, as manual temperature checks only provide a temperature snapshot for a specific time. Temperature spikes that occur in between temperature recordings often go unnoticed, placing restaurants at risk of losing profits from equipment breakdowns if fluctuations occur outside of pre-set temperature check times or off-shift. 

Thankfully, all of these risks can be avoided through the use of wireless temperature sensors that record temperature data on your computer, phone, or tablet. With Therma°, operators are automatically alerted about elevated temperatures through SMS, email, or phone call, and upper management becomes notified when incidents are deemed serious.

Temperature sensors can be placed in various locations, ranging from low boys, walk-ins, dry food storage, or freezers. Once all sensors are connected to a single hub, they are immediately ready to monitor, record, and transmit this vital data to the cloud, where it can be accessed at any time.

Remote temperature monitoring completely eliminates pencil whipping. Remote temperature monitoring guarantees accurate and regular temperature data, which can be used to show that all cold storage equipment is running within compliant temperatures. It also allows staff to focus on refrigeration only when an issue arises, rather than at set intervals throughout the day.

To see for yourself how Therma° helps automate pen and paper processes visit our website to buy online. 

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