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Love’s chooses IoT-as-a-service for truckstops

Love’s Travel Stops stakes its reputation on fresh, fast food for truckers and travelers. Management knew sensors could yield valuable information about food quality, but decided against a major capital investment in hardware, software and connectivity. Instead, Love’s subscribed to Digi International’s food temperature monitoring and task management solution.

The restaurants use Digi’s sensors and smartphone applications to track the temperature at which the food is stored and to monitor the daily workflow related to food handling. Tasks can be assigned and tracked and workers can be alerted about jobs or situations that need attention.

For Digi, IoT-as-a-service is a natural extension of a business that management already knows well. CEO Ron Konezny and CFO Mike Goergen came to the company by way of PeopleNet, which offered software-as-a-service to the trucking industry. Since taking the top job at Digi, Konezny has led the company toward subscription-based service businesses, which he says complement Digi’s embedded module and cellular router businesses.

Konezny said Digi is already providing IoT services to more than 10,000 sites, including restaurants, pharmacies, clinics, hospitals, grocery stores and school cafeterias. The company gained access to the healthcare and education markets through its recent acquisition of Smart Temps for $29 million. Within the last two years, Digi has acquired three companies that monitor food temperature: Smart Temps, FreshTemp and Bluenica. Recently Digi rebranded these combined businesses as its Smart Solutions group.

Although Smart Solutions currently represents less than 10% of Digi’s business, the $200 million Minneapolis company sees IoT-as-a-service as the fastest growing part of its business. Konezny said that in the future, Digi’s routers and even its IoT development kits could become part of the service offering.

Digi’s service offering includes sensors that connect via Bluetooth to a gateway, which can use Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or a cellular network to connect to Digi’s cloud-based servers. The sensors and the gateways are free to customers, who pay a monthly fee for service, as well as fees for implementation if needed.

Konezny said he’s learned that energy monitoring is a natural extension of food service monitoring, and that Digi has looked at potential acquisitions in that area. Digi itself was recently the target of a takeover bid from network equipment maker Belden, but that bid was dropped in May 2017.

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