Remote monitoring and imaging technology for pests
As technology continues to transform the pest control industry, remote monitoring and imaging technology seem to be at the forefront of the revolution. In recent years, electronic trap monitoring has continued to grow, particularly when it comes to rodents and nuisance wildlife in areas with limited access. However, industry professionals predict this technology will soon expand to individual households and ultimately include detection of all types of pests.
Tom Jarzynka, Senior Director of Pest Prevention Quality Assurance at Massey Services, Inc., says it’s crucial for pest management leaders to embrace new advances like electronic monitoring and incorporate these cutting-edge tools into their business.
“It’s critical that we stay relevant,” he emphasizes. “Every industry is being impacted by new developing technologies and greater abilities to gather and share information. Electronic monitoring and the associated dashboards and tools that go with this are allowing us access to more information in a structured format that we can utilize and then act upon.”
Cory Goeltzenleuchter, Technical Training Director with McCall Service, wholeheartedly agrees, adding that innovative solutions are what drive the pest control industry to continually improve. “As an industry, we have already embraced new discoveries, such as termite baits and cockroach gel baits. Today, we wouldn’t think of doing a German cockroach cleanout without the use of gel baits,” he explains. “It’s exciting that the pest control industry is now being included in the use of technology. New technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) has changed the way we as humans live our daily lives. If we hop onto this fast-paced train of new technological advancements, it will give technicians more time to do meaningful inspections and allow pest management companies to provide more valuable data to our clients.”
Keep reading to learn more about what’s on the horizon for remote monitoring and imaging technology for pests.
REMOTE MONITORING 101
When it comes to electronic trap monitoring for rodents and nuisance wildlife, there are a variety of different solutions available on the market. However, the common theme is that each system is designed to detect a rodent, collect information and notify the technician.
Like many pest management companies, Massey Services has been testing options for remote monitoring. “Most of the sensors give you a snapshot of what’s happening right then, in real time,” explains Jarzynka. “Most of the rodent technology is an on/off switch. Either the trap is in a neutral state or the trap has been sprung, which would indicate that something was caught.”
Jarzynka points out that electronic trap monitoring is much more effective than a service program where a technician shows up at a customer’s facility once a week to visually inspect traps. “The only time there’s an indication of anything going on is when the technician’s eyes are on that device,” he says. “With sensor technology, you have the potential to be notified immediately when a rodent is onsite. The monitoring is 24/7 and allows you to continuously gather information on the problem. It also allows you to respond to the issue right away rather than during your next service.”
Goeltzenleuchter says electronic monitoring also boosts productivity because it reduces the amount of time technicians spend checking empty traps. “Now I don’t believe this will ever eliminate the need for servicing devices (replacing rodenticide, cleaning out debris, etc.), but it will provide an opportunity to use this saved time to get to the root cause of other issues,” he adds.
Remote monitoring will also help facilities and pest control partners make more informed decisions, he explains. That’s because this technology gives them the ability to analyze trends and hot spots within an account and focus more efforts on these areas.
While rodents have been the primary focus thus far, remote monitoring can be used to detect all types of pests. “This technology is also being used for flies, bed bugs, stored product pests and more,” says Goeltzenleuchter. “The technology is quickly evolving and will soon offer the ability to set up a smart building and be alerted to any potential pest introduction.”
Jarzynka has high hopes for the future of electronic monitoring. “The technology in its fullest form will be able to provide us the information on virtually any type of pest activity,” he says. “We’ll be able to identify what’s been caught in our fly traps or whether it’s an ant or a roach under the sink at Mrs. Jones’ house. The technology over time will become very broad in being able to tell us what’s happening at a customer’s site.”
PHOTO BOMB: IMAGING TECHNOLOGY
Some remote monitoring systems are also integrating the use of cameras. With this imaging technology, the system has the ability to snap photos of detected pests. Once an image is captured, the technician receives an alert with the picture.
“When you introduce pictures, you’ll be able to see immediately if it’s a bed bug or a roach or a fly, as long as the sensor is designed to detect that pest,” Jarzynka explains. “This will allow us to respond to the problem more expeditiously.”
However, imaging technology is still fairly limited when it comes to remote pest monitoring. “What’s available now is largely focused on rodent trapping and wildlife because of the off/on trapping sensors,” he says. “There is developing technology that is utilizing cameras, but we’re still very much in the early stages of that. I don’t know of a full-scale implementation other than a specific bed bug monitor that’s available where cameras are being used on a large scale.”
While a remote pest monitoring program for households is not available just yet, Jarzynka is optimistic that these services will be introduced fairly soon. “We’re not actually selling these services to customers yet, but we’ve got a very aggressive testing program,” he says. “We’ve been doing the beta testing behind the scenes. We’re trying to evaluate how we can take this really effective tool and make it marketable. The electronic technology will enhance our existing program and help us better take care of our customer. But with the new technology and the new availability of information, there are additional costs incurred. How are those costs going to be shared? We’re not sure yet.”
Goeltzenleuchter says McCall also has been testing several remote monitoring systems as well as other technologies. “We are still formulating our official plan for the future,” he adds. “The technology is constantly changing and the companies are making improvements based on their testing as well as the industry’s feedback on the equipment.”
ON THE HORIZON
While remote monitoring and imaging technology for pests may not be mainstream just yet, Jarzynka urges pest management leaders to start doing their research now. “I would encourage all companies to dive into this in some way,” he stresses. “Partner with an equipment provider. Take advantage of sensors that are available and put programs together where you’re testing and learning about it, and then share what you learn back to the providers. At some point in time, this will be the standard of our industry. The sooner companies are introduced to it and familiarize themselves with the current capabilities, they can start to build a vision for future capabilities and be ready for the future.”
Goeltzenleuchter also believes remote monitoring will eventually become the industry norm. “That’s why it is so important to test and try out as many devices as you can to see which ones will fit in your company,” he adds. “I don’t think this will be a one-size-fits-all approach, so companies should have the ability to roll out multiple different types of equipment depending on the needs and challenges of your customers.”
BY AMY BELL