By Chelle Hartzer, 360 Pest and Food Safety Consulting

Adding electronic remote monitoring (ERM) to your toolset for rodent control can fundamentally improve your business, saving you time checking empty traps and providing key insights on where and when rodents are active at your job sites.

If you’re new to ERM, here are ten dos and don’ts to keep in mind as you look at how to integrate monitoring into your current rodent control approach.

DO – Understand the differences between various ERM technologies

ERM systems can connect to the cloud by cellular or wifi, and some Bluetooth systems don’t connect to the cloud at all so don’t provide information unless you’re on site. How the systems connect to the cloud and how system gateways connect to sensors can affect how and where they can be deployed as well as how far sensors can be from each gateway, when alerts are received and overall connectivity quality.

Another difference is how the ERM systems are powered. Most sensors are battery powered, but some have replaceable batteries and others require sensors to be replaced. Some gateways require a wall power connection, and others run on batteries.

There are also financial differences to consider because some ERM systems work with existing traps, while others require new hardware. When looking at the cost of a system, consider the costs of trap replacement and device replacement as well as initial hardware cost and subscription pricing.

DO — Plan and Adjust your ERM Deployments

Sensors and gateways should be placed based on an initial inspection, site history, and current and past pest issues. Depending on the source of power for the gateways (battery or plug-in) some factors could limit their placement. Consider the risks of potential system disruption at the gateway level based on gateway location and proximity to human and machine traffic. Be prepared to adjust placements as needed based on conditions and what the data shows.

DON’T – Limit Your Trap Placements

Where traditional rodent control approaches may limit where you place traps due to accessibility and the difficulty of checking them regularly, with ERM that’s not the case. You can place traps with sensors in hard-to-reach areas like drop ceilings, enclosed spaces, and other areas that are difficult to get to, since you’ll only need to check them when there’s activity.

DO — Involve Your Whole Team

Once you adopt ERM, make sure everyone involved in operations is aware of how the system works and what their role will be. Conduct training (most vendors offer training) on the deployment of the system and how to attach sensors to traps, activate them, and run a systems test. Most important is to train on how to read the sensor signals and what to do when an alert happens.

DON’T — Ignore Alerts

Establish a response plan including the expected response times. Quick response time is key to not only dealing with the current problem but for preventing future issues. If false alerts occur, consider a different sensor or placement. Make sure the right people/teams are getting the alerts.

DO — Analyze the Data

Use the data you collect to find the underlying factors that are causing the pest issue. Investigate the location of captures, the rate of captures, and even the timing of when those captures happened. This allows you to optimize both your trap deployment and your strategies in all other IPM areas.

DON’T – Shorten Your Service Times

Spend the time you save on trap checking on inspections, documentation, and client communication. By finding and fixing any conducive conditions, you can prevent pest issues from happening. If you shorten your time per visit at the account, there will be pressure to reduce prices for the service.

DON’T – Assume ERM is the only thing you need

There is still a need for inspections, documentation of conducive conditions, and treatments when necessary. ERM doesn’t exist for all pest varieties and conventional methods are still necessary to monitor those.

DO — Choose Your Sensor Types Carefully

Different sensors work in different ways and what works best will depend on what traps you are using. There are magnetic switches, accelerometers, infrared, and more. You will need to see what works best with your different trap types.

DO – Get Experience with Remote Monitoring

The best way to learn is to do some hands-on training! It’s a great way to understand what this system can do. You can experiment with different trap types and different sensors. You can do a small deployment to “practice” before you bring on the whole system.