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  • NYC Hospital Examines WTM Options

    Wireless Temperature Monitoring systems can vary greatly in design, technology, ease of use.

    This third piece of the series examining New York Hospital Queens’ experience with Wireless Temperature Monitoring systems as reported on the Pharmacy Purchasing and Products website article, we look at the options considered and some that were not . (Link to PPP Article)

    Once medication, blood and nutrition products refrigeration was evaluated and found lacking prompting a replacement of dorm style units with over 100 medical grade refrigeration in patient care areas, the next step was to examine WTM options for evaluation. According to author Alexander F. Melchert, , MS, RPh, the Director of Pharmacy at the hospital, “Several WTM systems were evaluated culminating in the adoption of one that best suited our needs.

    The hospital selected a device that utilizes wireless sensors connected to probes immersed in a bottle of ethylene glycol as ideal for their needs. The ethylene glycol bottle is used as a buffer to reduce temperature fluctuations that can result in false alerts. (Note: Liquid ethylene glycol and propylene glycol are commonly used in laboratory and food applications, dry sand or glass beads are options that eliminates the potential for liquid spills.) The temperature sensor is immersed into the bottle which is then capped and placed into the refrigerator. Two other factors noted were cost and the ability to self-install, meaning hospital personnel could perform all of the tasks to place the sensors and get them operating correctly, not a small consideration when dealing with new and potentially complicated technology.

    Temperature buffer vial comparison: Air, dry sand, and propylene glycol shows damping effects of each. Damping is useful to manage momentary temperature changes that are not significant to the product’s efficacy, safety or quality. (Link to Source)

    Dry or liquid media filled buffer vial with temperature sensor installed helps reduce temperature fluctuations due to medical refrigerator door opening and the possible triggering of alarms or alerts that do not compromise the medication.(Link to Source)

    The Pharmacy Purchasing and Products article’s author describes other aspect of the experience. “The WTM system was phased in over a one-year period. Once an area was integrated into the electronic process we discontinued the use of manual logs, with the exception of situations where network downtime exceeded 12 hours. In addition, because these refrigerators and freezers are designed for hospital use, they typically include ports or access points for inserting the temperature sensors, easing the installation process.

    WTM devices can take many forms and use many different technologies. The devices may be battery powered, have internal batteries for backup during power outages, or be powered by the sites electrical power. Which type of power one selects is dependent on whether or not the device is required to be operating when the sites electrical power goes down or, in the case of sites with emergency generators, how long the backup power can operate. Sites that require temperature monitoring regardless of external power sources will want to choose WTM systems that can operate on internal batteries for several days if not longer. Such devices will also need internal data logging and downloading for times when network connects are interrupted.

    A second key factor to consider is the wireless communication technology. Several options exist including WiFi, Bluetooth, RFID, ZigBee, WLAN, WiMax, NFC plus mobile communication technologies such as GSM, CDMA and LTE. The choices can be daunting since each wireless technology comes with its strengths and weaknesses. Wireless technology options will be explored in the next piece in this series. The good news is the user need not be an expert on the technology options. One does have to be clear on the requirements or scope of work, and once that happens the best option or options will rise to the top.

    Wireless sensor communication technologies comparing data rate and range (Link to Source)

    Temperature@ert’s WiFi, Cellular and ZPoint product offerings linked to the company’s Sensor Cloud platform provides a cost effective solution for organizations of all sizes. The products and services can help bring a laboratory or medical practice into compliance with minimum training or effort. For information about Temperature@lert’s Cellular and SensorCloud offerings, visit our website at http://www.temperaturealert.com/ or call us at +1-866-524-3540.

    Free Vaccine Monitoring Guide

    Written By:

    Dave Ruede, Well-Versed Wordsmith

    Dave Ruede, a dyed in the wool Connecticut Yankee, has been involved with high tech companies for the past three decades. His background in chemistry and experience in a multitude of industries such as industrial chemicals and systems, pulp and paper, semiconductor fabrication, data centers, and test and assembly facilities informs his work daily. Well-versed in sales, marketing, management, and business development, Dave brings real world experience to Temperature@lert. When not crafting new Temperature@lert projects, Dave enjoys spending time with his young granddaughter, who keeps him grounded to the simple joys in life. Such joys for this wordsmith include reading prize winning fiction and non-fiction. Although a Connecticut Yankee, living for a decade in coastal California’s not too hot, not too cold climate epitomizes Dave’s favorite temperature, 75°F.

    Temperature@lert Dave Ruede

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  • Advice Corner: Temperature@lert Sensors and High-Voltage Wiring

    Temperature@lert recently encountered a situation with one of their best customers, a well-known and respected entertainment company. This particular company is the largest provider of family entertainment in the world with more than 3000 employees, and hosts a variety of productions for more than 30 million people annually. The specific circumstances and resulting solution can benefit other customers in similar predicaments.

     Temperature@lert Cellular Device

    The Setup:

    The customer has several Temperature@lert Cellular Edition devices deployed around the world for their operations, and each device hosts approximately 3-4 wired temperature sensors. These sensors range from 6’ to 150’ in length.  Many of the longer sensors were mounted alongside a conduit that housed electrical wiring for a motor. The sensors were attached to the side of the conduit housing with zipties.

    Temperature@lert Cellular Device + Sensor Cloud Service: How it works graphic

    The Problem:

    The customer uses the PRO Sensor Cloud Plan, which allows constant temperature readings for every five minutes. They noticed that the Temperature@lert sensors (alongside the conduit) were only recording readings 3-5 times per day. This error was not related to the Temperature@lert Cellular Edition.

    The Cause and Solution

    After trying several creative strategies to rectify the situation, Temperature@lert Technical Support was able to identify the cause of the reading disruption. The conduit housing contained several wires that transmitted high voltage electricity to the stated motor, some as high as 220 volts. Ultimately, the electromagnetic field (EMF) of these wires was causing interference and thereby preventing the temperature sensors from transmitting readings to the Cellular Edition. With this in mind, Temperature@lert advised the customer to situate the sensors away from the high voltage conduit. Once this was completed, the customer reported that the sensors were effectively transmitting readings every five minutes as originally intended, and thus indicating that the problem had been resolved.

    Free EBook on Temperature Monitoring

    Temperature@lert would like to open this discovery to all customers and potential prospects as a statement of best installation practices. Whenever possible, ensure that Temperature@lert sensors are not placed alongside (or near) high voltage electrical wiring as stated in the above example. For more information on installation best practices and troubleshooting your device, please contact Temperature@lert technical support for assistance.

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  • HACCP Inspections: Active Managerial Control

    The FDA’s stance on Active Managerial Control

    More now than ever, the active communities of review and ranking sites have provided a clearer window into restaurants and food establishments, and needless to say, this transparency and honest feedback is invaluable to owners and consumers alike. With that said, restaurant owners and operators are also tightening their in-house food safety practices to prevent spoilage and bacterial infestation. In the larger picture, these practices reflect well on the operational capability of the establishment, and also serve to prevent the stigmata of food inspection violations. 

    The FDA has long published documentation on prevention and adherence to the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) preventative approach for food service. Still, many restaurant owners and operators are unaware or unfamiliar with these practices and suggestions, and to this day, health inspectors are suspending licenses and punishing these businesses for failing to comply. While reviews and consumer feedback are invaluable to the welfare of a restaurant or food establishments, these inspections are not to be overlooked or ignored. The following explication of active managerial control serves to inform you about the basics of HACCP, and what you should expect from a visit with the health inspector.

    Temperature@lert HACCP Food Safety Monitoring

    One of the primary objectives of a health inspector is to observe the level of active managerial control, or as the FDA defines “the purposeful incorporation of specific actions or procedures by industry management into the operation of their business to attain control over foodborne illness risk factors.” In short, such actions and procedures are a preventative and proactive approach to food safety, as opposed to reactive post-disaster tactics. Following this approach is critical for any food establishment or restaurant to ensure best practices in the kitchen. The above statement specifically cites foodborne illness risk factors, of which are outlined below.

    • - Food from Unsafe Sources (farms, meatpacking plants, etc)
    • - Inadequate Cooking (to subpar temperatures)
    • - Improper Holding Temperatures
    • - Contaminated Equipment (bacteria, mold, dust, etc.)
    • - Poor Personal Hygiene (for line cooks, chefs, and prep personnel)

    The health inspector will be focusing on these five points of failure as they represent the most sensitive areas for food safety and food consumer protection. There are a number of tactics that can be used to avoid these risk factors, and while some dwell in the neighborhood of common sense, others are not so obvious. The following food safety management tips are taken directly from the Regulator’s Manual for Applying HACCP Principles to Risk-based Retail and Food Service Inspections. Consider this a quick ‘cheatsheet’ for your next inspection, and be sure to employ as many of these smaller strategies to conquer the larger goal of safe food practices. These represent FDA-approved guidelines for HACCP compliance.

    • - Standard Operating Procedures for critical operational steps in a food preparation process. This includes cooling, heating, reheating, and holding.
    • - Recipe Cards or ‘cheatsheets’ that contain specifics steps for individual item preparation. This should include important boundaries such as final cooking temperature, verification, and directives for temporary storage.
    • - Monitoring procedures for preventing bacterial growth, spoilage, and proper cooking/holding temperatures.
    • - Record keeping. These include temperature records, employee records, and equipment maintenance and upkeep documentation.
    • - Health policy for restricting ill employees from the establishment.
    • - Specific goal-oriented plans, such as Risk Control Plans (RCPs) that are used to control specific and more incremental risk factors.

    In the next piece, we’ll dive further into these incremental risk factors and RCPs that can easily be employed in your restaurant or food establishment. Remember that while the world of online reviews can boost your consumer reputation, the food safety management suggestions from above are equally as important for the long-term livelihood of your business.

    Temperature@lert HACCP Food Safety Monitoring

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  • Got Milk?

    Cellular temperature monitor provides national dairy products distributor fault tolerant solution

    Temperature monitoring devices are very common in many applications, some more critical than others.  Chemical processing where a slight change in temperature can lead to reduced yield or even failure is certainly high on the list.  Nuclear reactor core temperature monitoring is high on anyone list as to its importance for safe operation.  Home and office temperatures, on the other hand, can fluctuate by several degrees without serious consequences to the occupants.  In the most critical applications, the ability to rely on reliable temperature sensing and reporting is paramount.  Murphy’s Law is always present, so when things start to go badly, knowing about problems before they become critically out of range is paramount.

    In food processing, storage and distribution industries temperature monitoring serves the need to help maintain product quality and more importantly to assure product safety.  Raw seafood that sits around at room temperature for an hour would mean an unusable or at least less desirable product.  Lettuce, spinach and other greens that sit at room temperature may begin to wilt but more importantly, bacterial and other microbes on their surfaces can reproduce exponentially, potentially making the product less safe for human consumption.

                     Temperature@lert Milk Monitoring Temperature@lert Milk Monitoring

    Examples of refrigerated trailers used for storage (Left: Link to Source, Right: Link to Source)

    Milk products likewise fall into the sensitive category where too high a temperature can quickly lead to spoilage, too low to freezing and likely an unsalable product.  So when a major milk products distributor needs to monitor the refrigerated trailers in its distribution centers, especially during the hot summer months, reliability and robust design are paramount.  And after doing the research, the company chose to deploy Temperature@lert’s ZPoint wireless sensor nodes plus Cellular Gateway combined with the company’s Sensor Cloud service for fault tolerant operation and notifications.

    The fault tolerance comes from the combination of several technologies.  First is a cellular communication device employing a major cellular carrier that does not depend upon site electrical power or lost network connectivity.  Second is a cellular device that automatically switches to battery operation and onboard data logging when electrical power is interrupted, insuring communication and data records are maintained.  Third is robust cloud servers and software.  Fourth is the ability to employ a combination of email, SMS text and voice phone call alert messaging to insure that responsible personnel do not sleep through critical temperature variations.  Finally, the ability of the Sensor Cloud to determine if the cellular device has not checked in when expected, allowing the user to send an “all is not well” alert so that someone can check on the status of the site infrastructure.


    Cell tower (Photo: Link to Source) allows distributors in large cities to deploy Cellular Edition ZPoint hardware and Sensor Cloud service for fault tolerant operation.

    Dairy management noted on occasion they received phone calls that temperatures were at alert levels at 2:00 AM and they would not have heard them if they came in only by email or text.  Although being woken in the middle of the night was not ideal, the Temperature@lert solution did its job well, supporting the decision to deploy the device widely.

    Temperature@lert’s patented Sensor Cloud offers food distributors an extra level of protection generally not offered by similar devices.  Like the milk distributor, distributors of frozen and refrigerated foods have deployed the Cellular Edition in off-site storage units often located in leased facilities.  Generally employed in larger urban environments where the electrical grid is often taxed during hot summer months, battery backed cellular technology combined with cloud computing provides fault tolerant assurance that helps insure products are maintained at safe temperatures to maintain quality.  And as in the case of the milk distributor who saved $45,000 in products in a four month period, Cellular Edition customers can sleep well knowing their products and business is in good hands.

    For information about Temperature@lert’s Cellular Edition and ZPoint sensor and Sensor Cloud products check the company’s website at http://www.temperaturealert.com/Temperature-Alarm.aspx or contact the company at 1-800-524-3540.

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  • Major Dairy Products Distributor Averts $45,000 Loss in Four Months Using Cellular Temperature@lert Device

    Food safety and quality practices prompt proactive approach to milk products distribution.

    I recall my uncle owned a small milk delivery operation when I was very young.  We would get our milk in glass bottles with paper disc caps delivered into our galvanized, insulated milk box on the back porch.  In the New England winter this worked well as the box kept the milk from freezing until my mom could bring it into the house.  In the hot days of summer sometimes the milk warmed up slightly, very likely beyond what is now considered good practice.  While it was a good memory, we got to see the operation and his talking pet crow at times, there was one downside:  My dad would “steal” the cream that had separated to the top to put into his coffee.  In a way dad led the way to introducing low fat milk to my diet before it became a supermarket mainstay.

    Fast forward to today.  Food production, distribution and retail businesses are very aware of issues dealing with proper handling and storage of their products as major health related news headlines proliferate in recent years.  Food distribution and service personnel receive training to insure HACCP compliance in a variety of settings from warehouses, refrigerated trucks, shipping and receiving platforms, refrigerators and freezers, and food service counters and kitchens across the U.S. to help insure proper refrigeration of perishable products.

     Milk distribution in the 1950s and today Then and now: milk home delivery compared to modern milk packaging and refrigeration. Then and now: milk home delivery compared to modern milk packaging and refrigeration. Then and now: milk home delivery compared to modern milk packaging and refrigeration.

    Then and now: milk home delivery compared to modern milk packaging and refrigeration.

    (Link to Sources Left to Right: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4)

    These businesses know very well which products are most sensitive to temperatures outside of recommended limits.  Seafood comes to the top of the list of perishable products that are highly sensitive to improper storage temperatures, and special care is taken by seafood handlers to insure proper temperatures are maintained.  Dairy products are high on the list of products sensitive to temperature extremes.  So it was not surprising when a major dairy product distributor known for their high quality fresh milk and cream products wanted to insure they were safe during storage.

    Like many such operations where seasonal changes can make inventory levels rise or fall, the company employs portable and mobile refrigerated containers and trailers to store products when refrigerated warehouses become full.  These units are well equipped to handle the additional products and keep them in the recommended temperature range.  However, because these units are not typically integrated into the warehouse automated control system, insuring the refrigeration units are operational and doing their intended job becomes a challenge.  This is especially true during warm summer months when failure of the remote refrigeration unit or an open door can quickly lead to unwanted temperature rises that threaten or damage products.

        Milk distribution in the 1950s and today (Link to Sources Left to Right:  Milk distribution in the 1950s and today (Link to Sources Left to Right:  Milk distribution in the 1950s and today (Link to Sources Left to Right:

    Milk distribution in the 1950s and today (Link to Sources Left to Right: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3)

    Employing Temperature@lert’s patented cellular gateway and ZPoint wireless sensor modules, company management is able to monitor that proper operation and temperature levels are maintained in the remote storage units.  When problems occur that lead to an unwanted rise or fall in temperature, the device triggers an alert that results in email, text and phone messages being sent to operations personnel to take action.  Over the course of four months the ZPoint Cellular unit sent three separate alert messages when storage units exceeded customer defined levels.  And as temperatures continued to rise, an escalation set of messages was received by management to insure action was taken.

    Food Service & HACCP Temperature Monitoring

    During this period the ZPoint Cellular unit was able to help the company avoid damage to three refrigerated storage unit contents, saving an estimated $15,000 per unit for a grand total of $45,000 during a four month period.  Management and operations personnel are very pleased the device paid for itself in a matter of days.  Additionally, the ruggedized ZPoint temperature sensors have been integrated to the air brake locks on refrigerated truck storage units to help streamline operations and prevent wireless sensor nodes from inadvertently leaving the facility.

    In partnership with the dairy distributor, Temperature@lert is developing a low cost Android tablet to help manage wireless ZPoint sensor nodes and automatically facilitate check in and check out.

    For information about Temperature@lerts Cellular Edition and ZPoint sensor products check the company’s website at http://www.temperaturealert.com/Temperature-Alarm.aspx or contact the company at 1-800-524-3540.

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  • Are Disposable BioPharmaceutical Factories the Model of the Future?

    GE reportedly building disposable drug factory for China site.

    Disposable diapers, disposable syringes, disposable cameras, contact lenses, cell phones, food containers, cups, plates, cutlery, razors, (paper) towels, mops, batteries, water bottles, lighters, rocket boosters; the list seems endless. Some of these items are understandable, such as rocket boosters, many can be replaced by reusable items, refillable water bottles and rechargeable batteries for example.  Some are for convenience and possibly excusable at times, disposable eating items at an impromptu gathering for example.  Some such as disposable syringes are chosen because they reduce company liability in addition to other benefits.  Some are desirable, disposable income jumps to the top of the list.  But what does it mean to build a disposable factory?

    According to the website BioPharmaReporter.com manufacturing giant General Electric is planning to build just such a project for JHL Biotech to be located at a site in China. (Link to Source)  What is this about and why disposable?

    Introduced in late 2012, GE’s Healthcare announced KUBio™, a 1200m2 pre-fabricated modular facility “delivered with a complete ready-to-use production line, based on GE Healthcare’s Ready-to-Process™ single-use technologies.” (Link to Source)  The company’s website shows design images of the plant with its Spartan exterior and an interior dedicated to cGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practices) manufacturing.  The company boasts using the off-the-shelf design as a way manufacturers can bring manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals such as antibodies on line quickly, in 14 to 18 months including planning, delivery and construction.  This compares to the traditional 24 to 36 months for traditional designs, and speeds time to market at a lower capital cost according to GE.

    GE Healthcare's KUBio  (Graphic: Business Wire)GE Healthcare's KUBio  (Graphic: Business Wire) 

    Exterior and Modular Interior of GE’s KUBio Single Purpose BioPharmaceutical Factory (Link to Source)

    GE will pre-build the plant’s modules in Germany under cGMP specifications and deliver it to JHL’s site in the Biolake Science Park in central China’s most populous city, Wuhan. 

    GE KUBio 01GE KUBio 01


    Left: Wuhan Biolake Industrial Park (Link to Source), Right: Interior of KUBio Module (Link to Source)

    The modular trend is not new.  Aside from modular offices used at construction sites and modular classrooms for schools, other industries have adopted the trend.  Most recently modular data centers have garnered much press.  Preloaded server and facility modules can be delivered and interconnected quickly to shorten time to market.  Some data centers these days look like cargo transport containers stacked in desert or remote locations so long as high speed telecommunication lines and electricity are available.  Back in the BioPharmaceutical world, German based Sartorius has been promoting its disposable reactor designs that, while not a complete turnkey facility, provides a ready to use production capability comes ready for six distinct processes. (Link to Source)


    Left: Sartorius FlexAct® CH disposable cell harvesting Biopharmaceutical processing modules (Link to Source ); Right: Microsoft’s Preassembled Components Module contain air handling and IT components (servers, etc.) ready to plug into Data Center facilities. (Link to Source)

    One question remains.  How cost effective are modular BioPharmaceutical factories in the long run?  Because they are single purpose, when the material manufactured at the plant is no longer needed, is the factory truly disposable.  If yes, what does that do to the cost of acquisition and site preparation capital?  Data center technology is generally outdated in three years, five tops for leading edge companies and financial institutions, so disposability is planned.  And modules can be delivered wholesale to replace outdated modules.  The outdated modules may be just fine for less demanding industries so long as the original owner is assured all data is purged.  The same may not be said for single purpose reactors which in some cases may be contaminated with proprietary materials.  Images of Walt and Jesse disposing of their RV meth lab after the DEA is closing in on them come to mind from the TV series Breaking Bad.

    Breaking Bad RV  Breaking Bad RV

    Breaking Bad Images - Left: RV Meth Lab (Link to Source);  Right: Disposable Lab? (Link to Source)

    BioPharmaceutical manufacturers will need to assess the value of time to market and depreciation of “disposable” factories to determine if the single-purpose modular factory model is right for their business.  Watching GE’s KUBio developments and the experience of JHL Biotech in China may help determine the answer.  Ultimately companies will need to rely on their understanding of the market as well as a reasonable RoI analysis to make the best decision.

    Temperature@ert’s WiFi, Cellular and ZPoint product offerings linked to the company’s Sensor Cloud platform provides a cost effective solution for organizations of all sizes.  The products and services can help bring a laboratory or medical practice into compliance with minimum training or effort.  For information about Temperature@lert’s Cellular and SensorCloud offerings, visit our website at http://www.temperaturealert.com or call us at +1-866-524-3540.

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  • 3 Questions To Ask Your Monitoring Provider

    Making an enterprise-level purchase can be an arduous and painful task. You might find yourself demoing a product for a few months, waiting weeks for approval, and even with testing, a temporary failure or problem can nix the entire cycle. Don't be fooled though, this sorrow-filled quest to make larger sales can be successful. These preliminary negotiations typically touch on the psychological pulls of a client's needs, concerns, and fears.


    Price is almost always the first need to address, as any given solution must also be cost effective for the client. The main initial concern is capability, or whether the product can fully perform the duties to which it will be assigned. And finally, the biggest fear (and a large reason for the extended cycle) is service and consistency, or put another way: will the product maintain the stated abilities for months at a time, and if not, will the vendor respond with a timely and no-hassle solution to the problem?


    While 'price', 'capability', and 'service' are the initial touch points of a larger sale, monitoring devices and providers have more bases to cover. Keep these questions in mind before choosing your next monitoring provider, and don't let the initial touch points distract you from these other important considerations for purchasing.


    1. How does your warranty work?

    This is somewhat along the lines of the service 'fear' that we discussed above. Check out our blog post on warranties for temperature sensors to read more about this issue (specific to a known vendor). Sensors and hardware may not fall under the same warranty agreement, and warranties on sensors can often be painfully short (90 days in some cases). Before committing to a purchase, be sure to ask your monitoring provider about the odds, ends, and details about your warranty. When possible, purchase extended warranties to insure the products (especially in a larger deployment).


    2. Is Telephone Support included?

    Be careful. A vendor is likely to provide hands-on support and service in the testing phases of a sale, but the ongoing lifecycle of the product is a more pertinent support concern. How will the product be supported over time (even with a warranty)? How are small-scale technical issues addressed, and how seamless is the return process? Don't forget, low-quality service and support can make the most well-insured product into an RMA hassle, so make an honest assessment of their support capabilities. One of the most common mistakes is to utilize a vendor with little (or no) phone support, leaving you stuck with discussion forums and (un)helpful support articles. These will be general, they will not be specific, and it truly takes the touch of a phone specialist to troubleshoot software, firmware, and other technical hiccups. Remember the red phone in each Apple Store that had a direct line to an Apple super-specialist from headquarters? That type of support is priceless. Make sure to press your monitoring provider on support agreements, and ensure that capable support personnel can be reached by phone at all times.


    3. How often do you update your hardware/software, and will our deployment be obsolete in the near future?

    We know that honesty is the best policy, but sometimes, monitoring vendors may not be interested in that practice. Don't always assume that the online product is the finished masterpiece, and remember that revs and product evolution happen fairly frequently. You wouldn't want to purchase dozens (or hundreds) of first generation monitoring hardware if they were soon to be replaced by the second generation. The same applies for software; how will you be made aware of changes and updates? Do these updates affect your deployment, or are they meaningless add-ons that look to sap more cash out of your budget? Are there important compliance features that you're required to follow? Is the device legally certified to meet the requirement?


    All of these questions are often passed by the wayside in the onset of the sale. We're often distracted by budget projections, out-of-the-box capabilities, and the preliminary installation processes. Don't forget these underlying questions when you chat with your potential provider, and make sure to cover all of your monitoring bases without failure!

    Temperature@lert EBook

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  • Who exactly is ushering in ASHRAE’s Temperature Guidelines?

    Temperature@lert Dave Ruede Dave Ruede, VP of Marketing at Temperature@lert, says:

    "Is raising data center temperature like a game of “you blinked first”, only with your job on the line?"

    While no global standard exists for data center temperature recommendations, many refer to the white paper ASHRAE Technical Committee (TC 9.9) for Mission Critical Facilities, Technology Spaces, and Electronic Equipment.  As many know, the committee published a 2011 update titled 2011 Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments – Expanded Data Center Classes and Usage Guidance.  (Link to Whitepaper)  With this document, ASHRAE’s TC 9.9 raised the recommended high end temperature from 25°C (77°F) to 27°C (80.6°F) for Class 1 data centers (the most tightly controlled class).  More importantly, the allowed high end was set a warm 32°C (89.6°F), perfect for growing succulents like cacti.

    And yet, recent posts on IT professional social media sites have produced questions like, “What gloves are recommended for data centers to help protect from cold temperatures?”  So it appears not everyone is following ASHRAE’s guidelines.  Yet the other fact is that many IT professional media discussions are about energy savings. And if I remember living through the history of the 1973 OPEC oil embargo correctly, raising home air conditioning temperatures during the summer and lowering home heating temperatures during the winter saves energy and money.  The U.S. Department of Energy’s website estimates a 1% energy saving for each degree the AC temperature is raised.  Some sites claim 2%, 3% and even 4% savings, but even 1% for a data center’s energy budget is very significant.

    What are data center’s really doing?  In a July 15, 2013 piece posted on the Computerworld UK website titled It’s getting warmer in some data centers, author Patrick Thibodeau notes that, “The U.S. General Services Administration, as part of data center consolidation and efficiency efforts, has recommended raising data center temperatures from 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22.2°C) to as high as 80 degrees (26.7°C) . Based on industry best practices, the GSA said it can save 4% to 5% in energy costs for every one degree increase in the server inlet temperature.”  (Link to Article)  A 5% energy savings is something that makes IT managers really salivate.

    eBay’s newest data center in Phoenix, AZ employs open-air cooling technology to reduce energy used for cooling as a percentage of total site power consumption.  (Link to Image)
    So where is the industry?  The article continues that the 2013 Uptime Institute survey that included 1,000 data centers globally, almost 50% were operating at between 71°F (21.6°C) and 75°F (23.9°C).  The Uptime Institute noted that the survey did not show much change from the previous year.  Incredibly, 37% of data centers were operating a frigid 65°F (18.3°C) to 70°F (21.1°C).  Some good news was the fact that data centers operating at less than 65°F (18.3°C) have decreased from 15% to 6% of those surveyed.  This is a self-selected survey, so the data has to be looked at somewhat cautiously since some data center personnel may not elect to participate, but the data is sobering.

    So what’s the problem?  Server and other electronic equipment suppliers have participated fully in the TC 9.9 guidelines; they are certain that their equipment will operate within specification at the higher temperatures.  Their warranties reflect this.  And yet, other issues exist.

    One may the issue of poorly controlled buildings.   Older, poorly insulated facilities with dated, less efficient HVAC equipment may be forced to lower the temperature to withstand elevated summer temperatures, especially if they have significant air leakage.  Indeed, in the Boston area the month of July 2013 has been an average 4°F (2.2°C) hotter than average, a load that will tax even newer cooling systems.  Finally, the elevated temperatures may only apply to the newer equipment in any given data center.  Many data centers have a collection of equipment that contains some of the newest, state of the art servers sharing space vintage electronics that need the cooler temperatures to operate without problems.  And changing out equipment to allow a site to raise the temperature will mean assessing all electronic systems, including building facilities.
    So the industry has a dilemma, save energy and operating cost by raising data center temperatures which could require building, HVAC electronic equipment upgrades, or continue to pay higher operating costs.  The flip side is the price to retrofit buildings, systems and electronic equipment; a cost that would be paid by “Facilities” or “Operations”, not “IT”.
    Image from Slate.com piece about Google’s data center (Link to Image)

    Data center professionals are no different from other industries in that making change is hard, it can come with risks.  And changes to operating protocols are not done lightly when many data centers based their business strategy on reliability guarantees to their customers.  Who among us is willing to stake their professional reputation and possibly their job on a major undertaking that contains variables that may be out of our control?  So a studied approach is called for.   But in the end, the cost of energy will inevitably increase, and the need to implement more powerful servers, etc. will be irresistible. When that time comes, the need to implement raising temperature limits will be examined closely as part of an overall business strategy.  In the mean time, data center personnel may want to check out a recent Slate website post titled “The Internet Wears Shorts”, wherein the author describes Google technicians who work in summer clothes.  The thrust is that Google has achieved significant energy efficiency, partially by running their data centers at “a balmy 80°F” (22.2°C).

    Author: Dave Ruede is VP Marketing at Boston based Temperature@lert (www.temperaturealert.com), a leading developer and provider of low-cost, high-performance temperature monitoring products.  Professional interests include environmental and energy issues as they relate to data centers, clean rooms, and electronics.  Contact: dave@temperaturealert.com

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  • What Can You Monitor with Temperature@lert?

    When deciding on a Temperature@lert solution, generally you would have something in mind for the application prior to purchase.  Of course we have our standard industries that require the use of our products; however, there are many imaginative ways consumers have thought up that have opened a new world of monitoring possibilities.  

    Here are some of the innovative uses that have been implemented:

    • R/V pet monitoring 
    • HVAC systems
    • Warehouses
    • Wine storage
    • Ovens 
    • BBQ Smokers
    • Cryogenic Freezers
    • Food Trucks
    • Reefer Trucks
    • Kennels
    • Police K9 vehicles
    • Water Tanks 
    • Ponds
    • Farms/Barns
    • Chicken Coops
    • Portable bio-pharmaceutical cooling units
    • Steam Pipes
    • Incubators
    • Boiler rooms
    • Crops
    • Greenhouses
    • Explosives
    • Vacation homes
    • Candy factories
    • Vacant commercial property
    • Boiler rooms
    • Crawl spaces
    • Outdoor Cooling Units
    • Saunas
    • Hot tubs

    Of course these applications would not be possible without our smart sensors:

    • Temperature
    • Humidity
    • Flood
    • Expanded Range Temperature
    • Tank Level
    • Pressure
    • Leaf Wetness
    • Soil Moisture
    • Wind Direction
    • WInd Speed
    • Rainfall
    • CO2
    • O2
    • Dry Contact
    • Stainless Steel Temperature
    • Wine Bottle Temperature

    With the implementation of our smart sensors, the possibilities are endless in discovering solutions for your monitoring needs.  If you need a solution for your monitoring we're here to help, just send us a quick quote request: Quote Inquiry. Or if you have an interesting way you use your device, we'd love to hear about it, email info@temperaturealert.com.

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  • MITX Blog Feature: Warming Up Users

    Directly from the MITX Blog: http://blog.mitx.org/Blog/bid/90274/Temperature-lert-Warming-Up-Your-Users

    This post is part of the September blog series. With FutureM coming in October (do you have your pass yet?!), we're thinking a lot about marketers and consumers, and this series reflects that. We asked our writers to answer this question: "what is it going to take for marketers to catch up to consumers?" We'll be sharing several posts each week of the month. Stay tuned for diverse viewpoints and creative answers to this question. This post is by Diane Deng, Advertising Acrobat (Online Marketing Coordinator). Born and raised a Bostonian, Diane graduated with a BS from Boston University in Communications with a specialty in Advertising. Aerodynamic Diane spends her spare time flying in the air through her practice of aerial yoga while pursuing her Masters in Visual Arts at Harvard. Not only is she a flying machine but a marketing machine as well. She recently launched her first national cross-promotional marketing campaign. When Diane is not gliding on yoga swings, she swiftly manages Temperature@lert's new media accounts while building client and affiliate relationships. For this airborne gal, she likes her temperature like she likes her aerial yoga, a warm 78 degrees.

    Temperature@lert has tons of users (30,000 devices worldwide), but converting them from user to consumer varies across all verticals. It seems more important now than ever to know your user in order for them to become your consumer. There’s no simple wax-on, wax-off technique nowadays and it’s definitely time to consider how to warm up your users.

    First let’s define user and consumer in the easiest manner:

    User: Purchased and uses product or service.
    Consumer: Purchased and consumes product or service.

    The definitions most certainly seem the same; however, there is a major difference. Users just use your product or service but have not become loyal to your brand. Therefore, a consumer is someone who not only uses your products and services but also actually consumes your brand. What is this consumption of brand? Well that’s brand loyalty. But getting brand loyalty with all the noise from media bombardments have made it slightly more difficult. No longer can you focus on just traditional marketing or just new media; you need both and you need them tailored to each vertical.

    In order to warm up your users, you need to get to know them first. Human nature dictates that most people desire to be noticed despite how big or small their order is. At Temperature@lert we treat all our users equally, because it wouldn’t be fair for someone to cut in line. However we always make sure to take care of all our users in a timely manner whether it’s e-mail correspondences or answering tech support tickets. We even check our work e-mails at night and on the weekends, that’s just our Temperature@lert team motto.

    When dealing with users in different verticals, you need to know what they want, what they need, and how to provide solutions quickly and effectively. In order to do this you just need to pay attention. Notice if there are trends going on with new medical policies in your bio-pharmaceutical vertical. Notice if there’s a more recent release of server software in your IT/Data Center vertical. Notice if there’s been a recent spike in non-proper food transportation monitoring in your commercial refrigeration vertical. By noticing such details, your users will appreciate the fact that you’re making the effort to assist them.  

    Knowing what they want and need is one thing; knowing how to reach them is part two. Certain verticals or users tend to only check their email on Wednesday afternoons around 3pm, others prefer Monday evenings around 5, while others might like Tuesday mornings at 11am. Look at the analytics and make a plan, do some A/B testing, and find out what works in each vertical then maximize it to your advantage. After all, you don’t know if something works till you try it. Never forget that there are users who still prefer the traditional methods of advertising, give them a call or send them a mailer. Knowing how they want to receive the information makes all the difference.

    Marketers don’t need to catch up to consumers; they need to convert users to consumers. Reach out and show them you care and you’ll soon be surprising your users by having solutions for them before they even need to request it. That’s how you create consumers with true brand loyalty. Temperature@lert firmly believes in averting disasters before they can happen, so turn your user into a consumer by showing your loyalty to them and they’ll warm up to you.


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