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Using technology to fight rodents

12 April 2021

Paul Blackhurst discusses a new technology solution that enables the creation of more proactive pest management strategies in food production and warehouse facilities. 

Impeccable hygiene is paramount to the success of food production businesses. Facilities and hygiene managers responsible for these establishments have to comply with strict legislation in order to ensure food safety.

Staying pest-free can be a particular challenge for this industry, as the premises typically have an abundance of food, shelter and warmth which has the overall effect of making them an attractive home for pests, particularly rodents.

Vigilance is therefore key. Recent Rentokil data has shown a year-on-year increase of 30% in 2020, compared to 2019, on website traffic to its rodent pages with rodent enquiry data also showing an increase over the last five year consecutively. Alongside the apparent rise in rodents, the CRRU code (Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use) encourages businesses to improve sustainability by using alternative controls such as non-toxic pest protection methods, meaning a more proactive approach to pest management is important.

Using technology 
Chris Hayter Transport Ltd distributes goods for businesses across the UK, including food for national fast food retailers. The company is annually audited by the AIB, and requires a pest control solution that provides enhanced monitoring, while supporting their stringent audit requirements. The company chose to deploy an intelligent solution, and in choosing Rentokil’s PestConnect, achieved 100% in the pest control element of its AIB audits.

PestConnect is an digital pest management system that is designed to provide 24/7 monitoring, rapid response and effective elimination of rodents. This connected and fully integrated pest control solution acts like a rodent burglar alarm, providing more insight into rodent activity than has been possible in the past. It can identify exactly when and where rodents are active in a facility. With hundreds of these systems deployed across the country, data analysis for example has found the most common time that a rodent is active in a food processing and manufacturing setting is 12.26am. Insights like this are vital to help inform the very best pest prevention strategies.

Connected devices send an alert via SMS immediately when a rodent is detected, so technicians know exactly where and when a pest has triggered an alarm. A professional can then visit the premises to dispose of the pest and address the root cause of the pest problem. PestConnect also has the benefit of limiting the use of toxic pesticides and uses three versions of ‘connected’ traps:–

1. Dual AutoGate Connect which uses infrared sensors as a ‘smart’ gate mechanism. This gate creates a barrier between the rodenticide and the environment, only opening for target rodent species during an active rodent infestation before closing again.

2. RADAR Connect, for those mice that manage to find their way indoors, uses carbon dioxide which is a faster and more humane method of dispatch.

3. Rat Riddance Connect, a ‘smart trap’ used to monitor for and control rat activity inside.

These digital solutions are an important element of modern pest prevention strategies as they are sustainable and greatly reduce reliance on rodenticides which supports the ethos of CRRU.

Using the latest technological breakthroughs and innovation, digital pest management solutions help facilities and hygiene. managers to manage and prevent infestations while minimising  potential harm to the environment, and with a level of efficiency and visibility not possible without connected solutions. 

PestConnect also provides new insight for pest technicians and facilities managers, so they can create a highly effective pest management strategy that complies with all health and safety legislation.

Further steps
Once rodents gain access to a premises they are very hard to control. For example, a mouse can survive on as little as three grams of food per day and can eat from up to 70 different sources of food within 24 hours.

Simple measures can be taken to make sure rodents are less likely to choose your premises to reside in. By ensuring that there is no food left on the floors overnight and that raw ingredients or waste are stored in tightly sealed containers, you drastically limit food sources for pests. Additionally, sealing any obvious exterior holes with wire wool, caulk, metal kick plates or cement will help exclude rodents from entering. It is critically important that all onsite staff know how to spot the signs of rodent activity, and the steps that can be taken to prevent one from forming.

Final thoughts
Rodent prevention is always better than a cure, so a proactive pest management strategy is vital, and it will mean that costly infestations are much less likely to disrupt business or lead to breaches of legislation.

Paul Blackhurst is head of technical academy at Rentokil Pest Control.

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