WHY IS DIGITAL PEST CONTROL IMPORTANT?

Many pest controllers in Germany and worldwide use more and more digital pest products. This is mainly due to the fact that various regulations and laws can result in high penalties, up to production stoppage and business closures. For example, the Animal Protection Act prohibits making an animal suffer unnecessarily long, even if this is a hygienically necessary and important control. A digital mouse trap or a digital rat trap immediately indicates as soon as a rodent has entered the trap. Professional products, such as eMitter products, also offer the possibility of holistic pest monitoring; e.g. selected eMitter products already indicate infestation even if the impact trap has not been triggered.

TRADITIONAL PEST CONTROL VS. MODERN PEST CONTROL

Surely many still remember conventional exterminators who used conventional traps, poison and other tools to clear cellar rooms of rats or even to fight ants, moths, silver fish, rats, mice and bugs in factories and households. Even today, many people still consider the use of poison to be without alternative - this is not correct; Futura has been developing products for years which make pest control, pest prevention and pest monitoring without anticoagulants or insecticides and yet highly efficient and reliable. Large pest control companies already rely on the experience and competence of Futura and the products of the brands eMitter, NARA, GorillaTraps and Greenhero.

Grafik englisch
 
Nara Haufen

THE CHALLENGE: MAKE PEST CONTROL LESS TOXIC FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

One of Futura's main goals was to provide pest controllers and companies with professional products that not only eliminated the workload, such as the daily checking of impact traps, but also made pest control more environmentally friendly, sustainable and efficient. After digital pest control, monitoring should also be digitalised and toxin-free. Instead of using food, which was inefficient not only due to the heavy insect infestation, Futura developed the NARA products. The allergen-free monitors can be firmly integrated into the impact traps, used for efficient monitoring, eliminating the threat of insect infestation. Pest controllers and auditors alike were equally convinced that both digital and also rodenticide-free pest control had become possible.

 

THE BENEFITS OF DIGITAL PEST CONTROL

Whether monitoring mousetraps, driving away rats or installing insect traps - all traps have arrived in today's professional pest control and are not only highly efficient, but help companies and pest controllers to minimise the time needed for control. With Wlan Routers, modern technology and ever new products from the digital world, the time saved in pest control has been reduced to a minimum with even greater efficiency. Total pest control 24 hours a day, 7 days a week has become not only possible, but essential.
Today, however, not only digital traps are important. In order to be able to completely rule out pest infestation, it is also necessary to control the access routes of rats, mice and insects. Here too, Futura offers the PestCam, a camera which can record and log where and when pests were present, where they came from and how they entered a building.

eMitter Outdoor Direct
 
eMitter 5 Schritte

HOW DO DIGITAL BEAT TRAPS WORK IN PRACTICE?

Traps, such as the popular GorillaTraps from Futura work perfectly in conjunction with eMitter products. Thus, the GorillaTraps rat trap can be equipped with the eMitter Outdoor Direct. The Outdoor Direct is registered directly in the eMitter app and immediately sends signals to the smartphone; including an alive signal to check daily whether the transmission is working, an "infestation signal" if something on the trap has moved and of course a signal that sends a triggering signal to the trap. All signals can be distinguished and are stored in the app. In this way a larger pest infestation can be dealt with quickly without having to monitor all areas expensively.
A daily "running down" of the traps is of course also unnecessary with the signal system, as the trap shows by itself whether the trap has triggered or not.

 

WHAT DO OUR CUSTOMERS SAY?

Desinfecta has been an innovative pest control company in Switzerland since 1921. The partnership between Desinfecta and Futura began almost 10 years ago. They were the first partner to rely on Futura's digital eMitter system and saw a lot of potential in digital solutions.

Desinfecta 1
 

FAQ

Below are answers to questions that often come up when switching to digital.

What do I need to look out for in my IoT system against rodents?

First of all, you need to know exactly where your company wants to be in 5-15 years. How much and in which direction do you want to change? According to that, you would also need to pick your IoT system. Maybe only a basic system that sends emails is enough. Maybe you need a PRO variant that is fully integrated with your ERP / doc systems and supports you with Artificial Intelligence and smart image recognition. Maybe you only need digital rat traps because you only work for municipalities and cities. Maybe you need something for every species because you work for supermarket chains or food companies. But basically, the biggest advice applies - try before you buy - always and first of all. We always advise you to: buy 3-4 or 10 solutions and try around with them for 1-2 years. Because: many companies promise you the yellow of the egg, but deliver only a prototype. It is important, especially in pest control, that the IoT solutions are secure, that the company is serious and will exist for a long time (no start-up that sells your data to the competition after 3 years as happened earlier with Wisecon in 2017). But also that standards like IFS and AIB accept the products.
So, get to know the manufacturers, pick the most promising ones and build a relationship with them. Sign up for newsletters, watch Youtube interviews / podcasts and also see what the "big guys" in the Pest Control world are doing. This way you will learn after 1-2 years if the digital traps suddenly "give up the ghost" and it was not so important after all that they were 10-20€ cheaper or, if they work well and reliably for you and your customers.

Tip: Always think holistically: it's not just about how expensive a product is. Also consider the follow-up costs and actively ask companies what the costs will be if you have 10-20,000 of them installed in 2030, for example. Don't get caught in a cost trap. Also, always look at battery runtimes as well as making sure processes are sustainable. If you have to buy new batteries every 6-12 months, they cost a lot of money to begin with, and that's not necessarily sustainable. But your biggest cost will NOT be the product cost, but your time and that of your employees = the trips to the customer and back and the hours you could have better used for billable services.

As you can see, this is not an easy topic to answer, so it is best to contact our consultants so that they can offer you the product portfolio that best suits YOU.

Which company should I choose?

Do good research beforehand. The company should not exist only since yesterday. Even if the products are 10€ cheaper, pay attention to how long and how many of them are already installed with which references. Never let yourself be put under pressure. Some companies advertise a solution (because they might get discounts for it), but have only installed 200-300 of the devices themselves for 6 months. We have already seen that start-up solutions stopped working after 6-12 months and the start-up suddenly disappears, along with the customers' money... Also make sure that the team is big enough, because of course you also want a sustainable and good support for your digital journey.

Pro tip: Make sure you pay attention to the structure of the company you are buying from. If it is a startup with, for example, angel or venture capital (venture capitalist) investors, then be careful, because such companies are usually built up quickly with other people's money, invest primarily in marketing, and then sell the startup to other large market participants after 5-7 years. So imagine how bad it would be if your data suddenly ended up with your biggest competitor. In 2017 Wisecon sold to Anticimex and suddenly - half a year later - it was announced that all Wiseboxes that were bought will stop working. A big damage for all SBKs that bought from Wisecon at that time. There are more of such cases, so caution is advised here above all. Most of the time patience pays off, because that's the only way to get to know the company and its sales team better.

Always take your time and try out solutions at your leisure. By doing this, become digital professionals yourself and openly communicate that you are talking to other companies as well. After 1-2 years, this will allow you to make the best decision for yourself.

Which radio standards are safe?

You can get a good overview of this in our wireless standard overview. We have listed all the standards for you here, discussed their advantages and disadvantages, and also addressed the issue of security. An important note is that some food standards do not accept Wifi/WLan solutions for security reasons. These are often not recommended.
Basically, it can be said that the 4 and 5G standards are the way of the future. No more gateways, repeaters, but direct transmitting devices.
Why?
Much easier installation, manageable and predictable cost structure (getting cheaper and cheaper), high security, extremely high flexibility and made for small installations with only one trap up to thousands.

Which systems are affordable in the long term?

Basically, a lot has happened here in the last 5-10 years. Where the SIM card used to be the most expensive thing, today it is very affordable, secure, scalable and "the way to go".
Of course, it's always true that the more you buy, the better the cost works out for you.
Just make sure that companies don't have hidden costs. What we've already observed:

  • Costs go up when you cross thresholds, e.g., when you have 100 sensors or 20 customers or more
  • Costs go up when you want to use feature XYZ
  • Costs increase if you want to have an API to your own ERP/docu.

There are "gag contracts" that force you to buy a minimum number of products per year; don't be pressured here and decide cautiously.
Otherwise, you can say that most systems have become cheaper and cheaper over the last 10 years and are therefore 50-60% "affordable" / fairly priced.

You can download our price calculator HERE. In it, you can see how much you will pay in the long run (with flexible quantity) and can consider and calculate how you will pass that on to your customers (one-time sale VS ongoing costs, etc.).
After that, the issue of costs becomes much clearer, because actually, in our experience, that is almost never the dealbreaker, but rather a homework assignment that you have to do once and then but done once you have calculated it for yourself.
After calculating the costs/revenues, you can roll out large quantities of the systems comfortably.

Tip: Often you can also negotiate that you pay in advance for e.g. 4 years and thus get good discounts.

Do I have to / can I integrate the systems into my own documentation software?

That is only one option. Most systems come with everything, so you don't need anything extra. It all depends on how your business works and whether you use your own or third-party software.

The good news is that our transmitters work with all third-party vendors at no cost to you (PestSoft, Hygitec, PestScan, and more). But also the connection via API to your own solution, or one developed for you by an IT company, does not cost much money (just ask our team about it). Usually we talk about 1-4 man-days of effort.
Tip: A "simple" solution is usually enough for the customer. So start with one customer and try it out. After that you can think about which further steps to take. Step by step, you can expand everything and become completely digital.

How expensive are such systems?

Without much ado, it starts at 10-15€ for audio monitoring sensors.
It continues at about 25-75€ for Bluetooth or W-Lan devices.
Then it goes on from 30-75€ with the 868Mhz short and long range devices, where of course repeaters and gateways are added (about 100-500€).
At 30-200€ we are at the 4G/5G GSM devices, depending on features, plus SIM and server costs.
There are also absolute special solutions that can cost over 1,000€ (multi-catch traps), but these are rather the exception and do not make much sense "on scale".

It is important that with GSM solutions it is easy to calculate: I need 100 traps = 100 x 50€ plus e.g. 0,5€ monthly = total costs on 3 years of XYZ€.
For the infrastructure solutions with repeaters and gateways the calculation is much more difficult, because I don't know from the beginning if I need only 20 repeaters for 100 traps or even 40, and the same applies for the gateways...
Therefore, the trend is clearly towards the easier to install GSM / 4G / 5G solutions, as they simply win everything in terms of cost and convenience.

Basically there are several types of costs:

  • Hardware costs (mostly one-time, or as rent/lease)
  • Software costs (for servers, data analysis, tools, security updates, access by different users, customer accounts, etc.)
  • Feature costs (the software add-on purchase of e.g. features that can be digitally unlocked)
  • SIM / transmission costs
  • Installation and consulting costs
  • Third party costs (this would be absolutely not advisable, because some manufacturers use Asian products - Wlan Extener or similar, which can be bought at Amazon - because these devices are of questionable quality and security.

All in all, the cost always potentially decreases with the quantity. So if you know you need 10,000 more digital traps by 2030, negotiate hard, because discounts are definitely possible - but also expect that manufacturers will want to put the promises in writing in an offer/contract.

How long and where should the test devices be tested before I decide?

Do not skimp on testing. Buy quietly from 5 different manufacturers the devices and test them min. 6 months, rather still 12-24 months.
You can't imagine how many solutions give up the ghost after 6-12 months. It would be a pity if you had already ordered the next 500 units. Avoid too much financial risk here.

Where you should test them is quite clear: in the field. Never just at your warehouse or office.
Put the IoT devices outside, in the sun, the rain, the snow, or in the wet/cold factory, in the dry dusty warehouse, etc.
You need to find out if the devices really deliver what they promise and that too over a 6+ month period.

This time is well invested and ensures that you do not lose - like a now very good and long-time customer of ours - 150,000€ because the devices broke and he was left sitting on his money without further support or rectification from the IoT manufacturer company.

What questions should I ask the IoT company?

  • How long have you been manufacturing IoT devices?
  • How many support staff do you have?
  • How many customers do you have?
  • Can I talk to your customers on the phone who have been using your system for <2 years?
  • How many products do you have?
  • Are they all CE, FCC, Tüv certified?
  • In which industries have you sold your equipment so far?
  • How long do your devices last? What happens after the warranty? ( Refurbishment, support costs etc. )
  • How long does your battery last?
  • Are the batteries certified (fire protection)?
  • How do I change the batteries and how often do I have to change them?
  • Where are your servers located?
  • What is your shareholder structure? (Investors who want to sell quickly? Venture capitalists? Data loss after sale is very high here. Best to buy from long-standing family businesses or big names that have been serving a very long, very large number of customers).
  • What are your service hours?
  • Do you provide on-site support?
  • How many machines do you have in the field? And for how long?
  • What do you think about the competition (pay attention if it's an honest answer or if it's just a sales pitch)?
  • Which documentation systems do you work with?
  • Which radio standards do you serve?

This should help you for the time being. It's best to open the questions in a video call / phone call so you can take notes on them. And mark the 5-10 questions that are most relevant to YOU.

What should I look out for in the IoT company in terms of data protection?

In Europe, consumer protection and especially data protection are very important, which strongly protects entrepreneurs and consumers. The company therefore has no choice but to behave correctly. Data protection and discretion as well as IT systems that manage this automatically are intrinsic and important, but especially in IT companies standard.
Rumors of data disclosure or even sale are actually rather unrealistic.
The company would be sued immediately, would lose directly and the reputation in the industry would be directly gone.
But, what you should pay attention to is that the companies work professionally and assure you that they deal with the customers discreetly and objectively.
In addition, you can ask for and discuss the terms and conditions and privacy statements.
Furthermore, we recommend that you ask whether the server locations are in Germany or the U.S., for example, because in the U.S. completely different laws apply, which also deal with data a little more loosely. Amazon Web Services or similar should not be completely disregarded.

What are the certifications?

The most important thing is that the companies themselves are certified (ISO, etc.) to show that it is a regulated organization that is prepared to handle processes professionally and also document them for a traceable partnership.
However, it is even more important that the IoT devices are tested, including by TÜV Süd / Nord or Phönix Kontakt etc. (to name a few) as well as that the devices are CE tested and that there has also been a radiation evaluation of the wireless devices (RED). The CE tests from Asia are often not worth as much as from a reputable German / EU company.
"FCC" - the American standard - is not necessary in Europe, but helps to meet even higher standards.

In addition, you should make sure that the devices are also accepted by the food industry standards, because they / their auditors see IoT systems in the field every day and know exactly which ones work and which ones rather not.
Therefore, the less technical but very practical certificates from IFS (International Featured Standard) for Pest Control (current guideline version 7 will be released in April 2022) are very relevant as well as certificates from AIB (American Institute of Baking) or even Marcs and Spencer, Sainsburys or TESCO.

It is advisable to talk to the auditors or to read the latest standards, as these often provide more and more information on digital pest control devices.

Where can I get more training on the subject?

Free of charge on Youtube or in our Academy / webinars and especially in free consulting sessions (our recommendation, because even more individual).
We do the "Future Day" 1x per quarter, where leading IoT specialists report on brand new IoT topics of the future, including Caspar Preysing from PWC and the Gigabit Office of the Federal Government, Stefan Drees from 1nce, Vera Schneevoigt, CDO of Bosch and many more. Our customers and friends of the company may participate digitally and on-site free of charge.

Who can give me an independent recommendation?

This is really very difficult, because the manufacturers all have one agenda: to sell.
But, to be honest, the agenda of us - Futura- is just not to sell, because we know that such a thing does not happen overnight and therefore we prefer to advise openly (see these FAQs) and also be happy with it if you buy a competitor's product.
But, the best are certainly friendly pest controllers. Well, there is always competition and sometimes competitors are biased here, but basically similar acting contractors with more experience can give the most recommendation.

We always try to let our customers talk about their experiences with our and other solutions because that is the most honest.

How do prices change when I purchase larger quantities?

Quite clearly: they become cheaper. As a rule, however, this only applies to 100-200 pieces with up to 5-10%. From 1,000 pieces onwards, however, it should be possible to achieve more with up to 20%. But the jumps are also getting bigger: so from 5,000 / 10,000 pieces possibly 30%.
But there are also many companies - similar to Tesla / Porsche - that do not give discounts. Here the same price is demanded for the small quantity as well as for 10,000 pieces.
In the end, it is a matter of taste, but there are certainly both on the market, depending on the quality.

Which contracts should I / should I not sign?

Please be careful with contracts that force you to accept a product that is still new. So-called gag contracts that demand, for example, 10,000 IoT traps in one year.
What do you do if the customers don't want the traps after all, or the still very new products don't deliver what was promised?
Caution is required here so that no financial damage can occur.
Contracts are basically not even necessary. You can also simply order and pay, which represents a purchase contract between companies.

Especially in the software / IoT area, however, it is almost standard that manufacturers who also offer cloud services - send contracts along. This is often not bad for both parties and provides a legally secure construct for long-term cooperation.

Tip: Always read the fine print.

Do I need to act today or will it be enough in the next 2-3 years?

To be honest, it is probably enough to deal with the topic slowly.
It certainly becomes more explosive from year to year, and the "big players" are getting faster and better, however, the solutions are also getting better and cheaper, so a later entry is often worthwhile, because you get in "better"...
However: Beware of reputation loss. So, means: if your competitor is already doing very active marketing for "Digital" or "IoT" and approaching all of their customers and possibly yours, then since you don't have a say yet, you might be at a disadvantage. And then the race to catch up has already passed you by before you could participate.

Our tip is therefore: Keep at it, inform yourself today, test devices and become an expert. Then you can act spontaneously and offer it to your customers. But if customers realize right away: "Oh, he doesn't offer that at all and probably never will", then they might - without your knowledge - ask the competition.

In addition, if the legal situation should change significantly in the next few years and poisons etc. are further banned, then IoT could develop quickly and suddenly be in great demand. Leading standards such as IFS have already set an example and many more will follow. The "tipping point" may have been passed.
In 2015, there were - according to experts' estimates - about 50,000 IoT devices. In 2022, there will probably already be more than 500,000. We expect over 1,000,000 units as early as 2023, and if growth then becomes exponential, we can expect 50,000,000 in 2027.

So, don't lose track of time and better get on board today before the train races past you.

 
 

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