February 22, 2019

University of Winchester saves time, money and paper with Checkit

Case study looks at how cloud-based technology, Checkit, eliminated paperwork, improved visibility and optimised catering team efficiency for the University of Winchester.


Sector: University Catering

Number of facilities: 1

Product: Checkit Automated Monitoring and Food Safety Management


The University of Winchester has a long tradition of offering world-class tuition in the picturesque surroundings of Hampshire. Situated in the heart of the city of Winchester, the University has over 7,500 students and 800 staff. All foodservice outlets on the campus are run by the University’s catering team. In addition to the main kitchen, a satellite kitchen caters for school meals and several coffee bars and fast food outlets are spread across the campus. To meet its sustainability targets and to gain better visibility over the way food safety is managed, the University catering team chose Checkit to modernise its food safety management.

Reducing the paper trail

Compared to some of its multisite counterparts, the University of Winchester is fairly small. However, its processes still produced a lot of paperwork. For the catering operations alone, the hygiene records had to be stored at a separate location, from where they had to be fetched for EHO inspections. These paper records were also time-consuming to maintain and provided management with no real-time visibility over the status of the kitchens.

“We saw an opportunity to reduce the paper trail and further enhance the way the food safety processes are managed,” Dave Morton, the Catering Operations Manager, explains. “With paper records, checks can get missed or simply not recorded, but when you finally find out about the issue weeks later, it is too late to do anything about it.”

To get rid of the paperwork and improve visibility over the processes, the University looked for a system that would provide tracking data that included time, date and personnel details, and concluded that Checkit was the most comprehensive and affordable option on the market.

The University began by deploying Checkit Automated Temperature Monitoring sensors in all of the 36 fridge and freezer units across its foodservice outlets.

Previously, temperature readings had to be manually recorded at least three times a day to comply with regulations. After completing the temperature check, staff had to write down the results, sign the paperwork and store the records away until the next check was due. Installing Checkit’s Automated Monitoring system has eliminated the time spent on these checks, as the wireless sensors in each unit automatically and continuously monitor the temperatures and record the readings in a cloud based control centre. The need for manual monitoring has been removed, as the system automatically alerts management if temperatures fall outside the required parameters. The Checkit system has helped free up over 28 hours of staff time each month, which staff can instead spend on core duties, improving efficiency of the catering team.

The University soon extended the use of Checkit for its other temperature monitoring needs: Checkit temperature probes are now used to check the temperature of deliveries and hot food items, which has significantly speeded up these safety checks.

“The way delivery and hot food checks are performed has not changed, but the time spent on processing all the related paperwork has been eliminated. Once the temperature check is performed, staff only need to press a button to send the results into the Checkit cloud-based control centre and the job is done.”

The digital records mean that the management team has realtime visibility of food safety management and is able to quickly see if a check has been missed.

“With Checkit, everything is a lot quicker, smoother and easier to maintain. It gives us better control over our processes and as a result, peace of mind. We can see that everything is done on schedule, and if there is a problem, we can go back immediately and find out what happened and why. It helps us build a picture of what has been going on, which is something a piece of paper can’t do.”

Better visibility and management of staff

Following the introduction of Automated Temperature Monitoring, the University saw the potential to extend the use of Checkit to new areas. The catering operations are run by 40 permanent members of staff, supported by 42 part-timers, mostly students from the University. Previously, the number of employees working across multiple sites made it difficult for the management to know if the staff were doing their tasks properly.

Without concrete proof, issues such as lateness were hard to bring up.

Now, when staff come to work, they log into the Checkit system and the time stamped records prove their actual start time. They also log in any other required personnel checks, such as compliance with the appropriate dress code.

“Over time, the system lets us build a profile of people who are possibly not doing their job properly and it makes it easier for us to prove and address this,” Dave sums up.

Overall, introducing Checkit to staff has been easy and their response has been positive.

“If you can use a calculator or a mobile phone, you can use Checkit. Once staff are used to using Checkit in their core duties, it is easy for us to apply the technology to new areas.“

Improving sustainability and traceability

One of the reasons behind the decision to go paperless with the hygiene records was the University’s commitment to transform its paper-based processes and increase sustainability across all operations. For a number of years, the catering team has demonstrated this by focusing on buying only the best free range products, most of which are sourced locally. Finding a solution to help reduce the amount of paper used seemed like a logical next step.

“The University encourages its staff and students to cut down on all paper use and printing when possible. Before Checkit, all the cleaning and hygiene checklists needed to be printed out which created tons of paper that might never get looked at. Not having to print out the daily checklists really makes a big difference.”

Digital records have also helped the University improve traceability and most of the products can now be tracked from plate to farm. Maintaining a strict hygiene regime is essential, as the catering team processes and packs some meat products on site.

For example, when fresh chicken breasts are delivered, they are butterflied or sliced by the kitchen team and vacuum-packed for future use in one of the campus’ fast food outlets. Catering staff use Checkit to record and monitor the whole process from the moment the delivery is received, and enter the batch numbers into Checkit to create trackable records. If a chef notices something is wrong when using the vacuum-packed products, he can trace the meat back to when it came in, who signed for it and even which farm it originated from. Having access to this information means that possible problems are easy to identify and resolve: the digital hygiene records prove that the University catering team has complied with the required standards when handling the product from the minute it arrived on site, which shows that the issue must originate from the supplier.

A solution that works

The University of Winchester has been using Checkit for over a year now and, pleased with the results, is looking for new areas to apply the technology to.

“We have just recommended Checkit to the facilities manager responsible for the campus on-site gym and sports park, as maintaining these facilities requires a range of regular checks which a system like Checkit can help manage.”

Checkit is the leading provider of next generation, cloud-based automated monitoring and digital work management solutions across the food, healthcare and facilities management sectors.

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