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  • Batteries, AC or PoE: So Many (Power) Choices, So Little Time

    Choosing the right WTM electrical power source for each organization often requires testing.

    The previous piece in this series takes a look at Wireless Temperature Monitoring (WTM) device configuration options as a prelude to helping understand and select the optimal power source option for each site. Because Temperature Monitoring systems can be both wired and wireless, it is important to understand both options exist.

    NYC Hospital Queens installed a WTM system to monitor medications and blood in hospital refrigerators, an effort that is featured on the website Pharmacy Purchasing & Products. (Link to PPP Article) To be fair the WTM system deployed was not 100% wireless. According to the author, the system uses wireless temperature sensors that communicate through a gateway to the hospital’s network. The wireless receivers used require 110 VAC electrical connections (household plugs). The 120 VAC powered receivers which can also be described as gateways would normally be plugged in, collect data wirelessly from the sensors and send the accumulated readings wirelessly to the hospital’s IT network.

    In the case of NYC Hospital Queens most receivers were installed above the ceiling tiles where there were no electrical outlets. In such cases the site would normally need to install electrical outlets which can add considerable expense to the project; this was the case for NYC Hospital Queens. In this case however, the receivers or gateways chosen had a second power option, PoE or Power Over Ethernet. In the PoE configuration the gateways are connected directly to the hospital’s IT network via LAN (Ethernet) cables. Not all devices can take advantage of this mode of operation and not all LAN installations are designed to provide PoE, but in this case the PoE option was the easiest and least costly to implement.

    Examples of network cameras showing non-PoE and two PoE configurations. (Link to Source)

    Among the electrical power options for WTM devices, AC power and PoE are generally considered the most reliable and available unless the site has a history of blackouts or brownouts. And sites like hospitals often have emergency generators that keep critical systems operating during power outages, so even utility outages may not pose a problem. Additionally, AC powered WTM devices can be connected to inexpensive Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPSs) that allow the device to continue to operate when AC power is interrupted. In the UPS powered case, however, if the site’s IT network is down the WTM device may not be able to transmit its data. The UPS powered device is likely able to continue to monitor temperatures so that when communication is reestablished there will be a full data set for hospital policy and regulatory purposes.

    The alternative to AC or PoE is battery power, which needs to be assessed carefully to meet the site’s expectations and specifications. Cell phone technology has made many if not most readers of this piece aware how significant an issue battery life can be as related to wireless devices. Battery powered sensors will need recharging or battery replacement. The frequency of recharging or replacement will be determined by two factors: (1) wireless transmitter power (largely related to range or overcoming interference from walls, furnshings, equipment, etc.); (2) temperature sampling/data transmission rate (largely related to site policies or regulatory requirements). Needless to say, no organization would willingly take on a device that requires frequent battery changes, say each month or each calendar quarter) to maintain quality records.

    Battery life vs. data transmission demonstrates that higher sensor data sampling and transmission rates will result in lower battery life. (Link to Source)

    When selecting battery operated sensors for WTM systems a thorough understanding of the temperature sampling requirements is needed to determine sampling rate and transmission frequency to meet regulatory or hospital policy needs. In general five (5) minute sampling is sufficient to help insure temperature sensitive medications and materials are not exposed to temperature that can degrade product safety or efficacy. When refrigerator doors are left open for a few minutes medication vials, for example, do not become overly warm. Only after ten to fifteen minutes or longer in the case of larger quantities of material will the materials in the vials begin to be exposed to harmful temperatures. With five (5) minute sampling an alert will be sent at the next five minute interval, letting hospital staff know temperature excursions have been seen and the refrigerator unit needs to be checked.

    Whether or not AC, PoE, battery or a combination of these electrical power sources meets site’s needs, specifications and expectations will take time and effort to determine. An evaluation of any WTM device to determine if it provides sufficient transmission range, sampling and reporting rate, temperature alert level(s), and response times to meet specifications and expectations is strongly recommended before committing to any particular supplier.

    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 visit our website at http://www.temperaturealert.com/ or call us at +1-866-524-3540.

    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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  • Battery Powered Data Centers?

    Is advanced battery storage to keep a data center operating for extended periods?

    Batteries have been around a long time.  Benjamin Franklin reportedly “used the term “battery” to describe a set of linked capacitors he used for his experiments with electricity.” (Link to Source) Alessandro Volta is credited with making the first true battery in 1800, an invention that became known as the voltaic pile.  It wasn’t until 1836 that the first practical battery was demonstrated by British chemist John Fredrick Daniell.  Daniell’s design is the template for today’s lead-acid battery technology.

    Temperature@lert Blog Image   

    Left to Right: Voltaic Pile (Link to Source), Alessandro Volta (Link to Source) Daniell cell (Link to Source)

    Data center professionals are very familiar with battery technology as they are generally chosen for UPS applications.  The quick response of battery technology and ability to store, release, and recharge electrical power are well known and highly valued.  Because of the amount of power required by data centers, UPSs are only expected to provide temporary power until back up diesel generators or other sources come on line to take over until utility electrical service is restored.  But is it possible that batteries could take over the complete job of powering a data center for extended periods of time?

    Advanced battery technology is being researched and developed at a frantic pace.  Applications such as electric vehicles, especially passenger cars and mobile computing devices provide markets that require more and more power storage so they may operate for days or weeks, not hours.  And this power needs to fit into a small, relatively light weight package to make it practical.  Lugging around an overweight battery that requires more power than the vehicle and passengers in transportation applications is not going to provide the driving range consumer’s desire in their personal vehicles to make them practical.

    Tesla’s Model S is rated for 300 miles using their large battery option based on 55 mph highway speeds and a 70° F outdoor temperature.  Night driving on cold Minnesota winter evenings will obviously degrade this performance, but that’s real world.  Nissan’s Leaf is advertised to travel a range of 75 miles on a full charge.  Since most consumers travel less than 29 miles per day according to Nissan, this is enough for most days.  Again using the heater, lights and radio reduce range, so real world performance will be interesting.

    Tesla’s Model S with the 300 mile rated range has an 85 kWh capacity.  Using a 5 kW per rack power baseline this translates to 17 hours of operation assuming 100% battery utilization which is not reasonable in actual use.  A 10 kW rack will operate 8.5 hours with the same parameters. In other words, a 10 kW rack would need three high capacity Tesla batteries to operate one twenty-four hour day.  If we could plan on an 8 hour charging cycle we could get by with two batteries per rack.  In a data center with 500 racks each consuming 10 kW would need 1000 Tesla batteries, 500 in the charging cycle, 500 to operate the IT racks.  However, assuming server racks only used 50% of the power in a data center, we’re now up to 2000 Tesla batteries, 1000 in recharge, 1000 in use.  That’s a lot of Teslas. 

    Temperature@lert Blog Image

    Tesla Model S Battery Pack (Link to Source)

     Temperature@lert Blog Image

    Tesla Powered Data Center?

    Okay, batteries need recharging so there’s always a need for power generation from some other source, and despite the potential to offer employees used Teslas as a signing bonus, this idea may be a bit impractical.  But what if enough batteries could store enough renewable energy to power a data center for an extended period of time, during low wind or cloudy days at renewable powered data centers for example?  There are experiments taking place for battery storage in power grid applications.  Portland General Electric’s demonstration project is one such project.  (Link to Article)

    Temperature@lert Blog Image

    Screen shot from PGE website video showing battery array size. (Link to Source)

    Located at the Salem Smart Power Center in South Salem, OR, the project employs a 5-MW lithium-ion battery array.  The array is connected to a smart microgrid serving approximately 500 southeast Salem customers during blackouts and related power disruptions.  When to engage the battery array is determined by an algorithm that will allow project participants to make local decisions on how their piece of the smart grid project can support local and regional grid needs.

    Temperature@lert Blog Image

    EnerDel’s ESS includes 1,440 rack-mounted lithium-ion battery modules monitored by an advanced battery management system to support a 5MW inverter array consisting of twenty (20) 250kW/62.5kWhr channels rated at 600VDC.

    The project is part of the $178 million Battelle-led Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project.  Half of the $23 million PGE portion of the project’s costs was provided by the U.S. DOE.  Total cost for the battery array and inverters is not readily apparent since they are included in the total project costs.  Hopefully the project will provide results that data centers can analyze to determine if battery arrays are capable of becoming more than temporary UPSs and replace generators and the issues related to diesel storage, testing, etc.  A super UPS may be in the future, especially as new and improved battery technology developments increase storage capacity while reducing recharging times, size and cost.  Until then, we’ll all have to keep an eye on the Tesla to see where the technology leads.

    Free Temperature@lert EBook

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  • Temperature@lert Named as Finalist in 2013 American Business Awards


    The 11th annual Stevie® Awards will be presented on June 17 in Chicago and September 16 in San Francisco.

    Boston, MA – May 9, 2013 – Temperature@lert, a leading provider of real-time, cloud-based environmental monitoringsolutions designed to enable businesses to mitigate temperature-related disasters, was named a Finalist today in the New Product or Service of the Year – Software category in The 2013 American Business Awards for their Sensor Cloud service. Temperature@lert will ultimately be a Gold, Silver, or Bronze Stevie® Award winner in the program.


    Sensor Cloud is a web-based Software-as-a-Service product for monitoring the environmental conditions of server rooms, bio-pharma vaccine storages, and commercial refrigerators while providing regulatory compliance data logging and alerting for various environmental sensors such as temperature, humidity, water, and more. The fault-tolerant design helps ensure that sensor data is logged and maintained for years, while the website and free iPhone/Android apps enable access to sensor readings and the ability to edit phone calls, emails, and SMS alerts from anywhere.


    Temperature@lert’s Cellular Products have previously won several awards, including a Stevie Gold Award for their Solar Cellular Edition in 2012. However, it is Temperature@lert’s Sensor Cloud that serves as the brains of all Cellular Editions with over thousands of devices deployed and running the service. Temperature@lert's WIFI and USB devices can also be connected to Sensor Cloud for a consolidated view of all sensor readings and alert statuses. Temperature@lert’s mission is to create a cost-effective and fault-tolerant system that will allow any user to monitor their assets at any moment, anywhere.


    The American Business Awards are the nation’s premier business awards program. All organizations operating in the U.S.A. are eligible to submit nominations – public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small. 


    The American Business Awards will be presented at two awards events: the ABA's traditional banquet on Monday, June 17 – in Chicago for the first time, after 10 years in New York; and the new product & technology awards event on Monday, September 16 in San Francisco.


    More than 3,200 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted this year for consideration in a wide range of categories, including Most Innovative Company of the Year, Management Team of the Year, Best New Product or Service of the Year, Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year, and Executive of the Year, among others.  Temperature@lert is nominated in the New Product or Service of the Year – Software category for their Sensor Cloud service.


    “Temperature@lert’s Sensor Cloud service directly addresses every industry’s monitoring needs ranging from server rooms, to farms, to medical storage, and even to commercial food transportation operations. We are deeply honored to be recognized as a finalist for our Sensor Cloud service by the American Business Awards,” said Harry Schechter, CEO/President of Temperature@lert. “This honor only further validates the need for remote temperature monitoringbecause everyone should be able to easily prevent temperature related disasters, regardless of type of industry or size of company. We believe in giving you a solution before you even have a problem.”


    Finalists were chosen by more than 140 business professionals nationwide during preliminary judging in April and May.  More than 150 members of nine specialized judging committees will determine Stevie Award placements from among the Finalists during final judging, to take place May 13 - 24.  


    Details about The American Business Awards and the list of Finalists in all categories are available at www.StevieAwards.com/ABA.   


    About Temperature@lert

    Temperature@lert’s temperature and environmental monitoring solutions provide both real-time and historic views of a location’s temperature and other critical parameters through alerts and cloud-based graphs, data logs and reports. This information allows customers to immediately react to potentially disastrous temperature or other fluctuations in critical environments, as well as provide temperature consistency for regulatory and internal process control requirements. Temperature@lert has more than 40,000 devices installed in over 50 countries around the globe. For more information, please visit www.temperaturealert.com.


    About the Stevie Awards

    Stevie Awards are conferred in four programs: The American Business Awards, The International Business Awards, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.  A fifth program, the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards, will debut this year.  Honoring organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide.  Learn more about the Stevie Awards at www.StevieAwards.com.


    Sponsors and partners of The 2013 American Business Awards include the Business TalkRadio Network, Callidus Software, Citrix Online, Dynamic Research Corporation, Experian, John Hancock Funds, LifeLock, PetRays, and SoftPro.





    Diane Deng


    866-524-3540 x506

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  • The Importance of a Battery Backup for Temperature Sensors

    The storage of vaccines and other biopharmaceutical substances is an important issue with many moving parts. From production to storage, the links of the cold chain are responsible for maintaining operational temperatures throughout transportation and distribution. Still, once these precious items reach their destination, fault-tolerant storage is a critical issue to address. Frankly, many of the sensors in today's market provide excellent operational capability with AC power, but are not typically supported by a backup battery. What does this mean for the storage of vaccines and pharmaceutical drugs, and how might a business benefit/mitigate disaster from a temperature sensing device with a supplemental battery backup?

    In the realm of vaccine storage, this concept of "continual" monitoring is extremely important. As we've outlined in previous blog posts, temperature dictates the operational effectiveness of a vaccine. While heat damage is the most commonly cited concern for the cold chain, temperatures that are too low can cause significant problems as well. NIST.gov highlights this problem in a past systematic literature review, noting that,

    "Damage from accidental freezing can result in potency loss for freeze-sensitive vaccines such as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, liquid Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), hepatitis B, and inactivated polio virus[2–6]. However, cold chain practices tend to prioritize protecting vaccine from heat damage, often at the risk of exposure to freezing temperatures. As a result, accidental freezing of vaccines is a largely overlooked problem, yet freeze-sensitive vaccines represented over 31% of the US$ 439 million UNICEF spent on all vaccines in 2005."

    Given that, how important does a backup battery become to ensuring safe storage temperatures? The answer is obvious; ensuring that temperature sensors have a backup power source is the ultimate safeguard against power outages. During outages, vaccines can experience a variety of temperature changes (of which may compromise the effectiveness of the vaccine). The missed readings during an outage may hold important data insight into the changing nature of vaccine temperatures, and may further indicate a problem. While a 3-hour power outage may seem insignificant to the temperature on the surface, it actually represents a large window by which vaccines can be rendered damaged or inactive.

    Even if power is restored and storage units are able to restart their cycles, the equipment downtime endangers the effectiveness of the vaccine. By using a temperature sensor with enabled battery backup, these "empty windows" of missed readings are eliminated. As a plus, these sensor types can be configured to send "loss of AC power" notifications, indicating that the device has shifted to battery power. This alert, by itself, is both a safeguard and a vital communication stream. Employees or handlers will be aware that power has been lost, and that the clock (to transfer vaccines to a generator-powered storage) has begun ticking. 

    While the sensor market is crowded with a variety of sensor types, alert capabilities, and device features, such backup battery devices are difficult to find. This represents a significant problem for cold chain monitoring, wherein the "downtime windows" that result from a power outage are too crucial to be ignored. Knowledge has said to be power, and in this case, the knowledge (or alert) of lost power is a truly powerful tool for vaccine storage handlers and the cold chain distribution network as a whole.

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  • Temperature Excursion Checklist

    The CDC has compiled a short checklist around "Temperature Excursion" and the necessary steps to undertake if a vaccine goes out of temperature range. Click here for the official document for additional pointers outside of Temperature@lert's suggestions. Add these suggestions to your recovery routines, and stay ahead of your next CDC check by having these standards in place.

    General Power Loss

    • Determine the length of the power outage: Some vaccines can be subjected to small variations in temperature, while others may be more sensitive to changes
    • Initiate generator backup systems: These should serve as the secondary backbone for your entire system. Make sure to test generator systems, as a malfunctioning generator can be extremely costly.

     Presumed Unit Malfunction

    • Check door seals: Note any gaps, leaks, or rips in the seal to maintenance/technicians.
    • Check dust on coils/compressors
    • Record all measured temperatures.
    • Re-Check temperatures every 15-30 minutes as needed: This is a precautionary measure to prevent temperature excursions during an outage or malfunction.
    • Space between vaccines (divide refrigerators/freezers into sections)
    • Check the location of temperature monitors/sensors (away from vents)
    • Contact HVAC/R technician/manufacturer immediately

    Disposing of Vaccines

    • Mark any tainted vaccine "DO NOT USE": This will eliminate confusion for employees that may have been absent or unaware of the failure/malfunction.
    • Re-record and check all temperatures to determine excursion extent: Make certain that all vaccines that have had extended excursions (over 1 hour) are immediately disposed.
    • Double-check the functionality of alternative storage units
    • Move all unaffected vaccines to the alternative storage units
    • Replace temperature sensors that have failed from power loss: If possible, purchase a temperature monitoringdevice with a backup battery and/or power loss notifications. This will prevent temperature excursions in the future, and will prevent temperature sensors from going offline during an outage (when measurement of temperature is the most critical!)
    • Back-up temperature data and logs to a second source

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  • Food Safety for Power Outages and Disasters

    Food Safety:

    Power Outages and Beyond


    We'll begin by quoting from the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) fact sheet.

    "Did you know that a flood, fire, national disaster, or the loss of power from high winds, snow, or ice could jeopardize the safety of your food? Knowing how to determine if food is safe and how to keep food safe will help minimize the potential loss of food and reduce the risk of foodborne illness."


    With that said, it's worth highlighting a few of the suggestions and tips from the fact sheet, as we believe that these represent little-known facts, insightful suggestions, and other pointers that can be easily overlooked. If you haven't had a chance to check it out, here's a link to the FSIS fact sheet.

    As per our usual suggestion, always refer to official USDA documents and releases that outline the proper procedures and standards for food safety. A power outage can induce temperature variation for refrigerated products, and the sustainability of such products (after a disaster) is wholly dependent on your adherence to USDA/FSIS standards and other disaster-related procedures.


    Salvaging Metal Cans after a Flood:

    There are a number of safety measures to employ if you suspect that your cans have been compromised. One of the lesser-known strategies for sustainability of cans is to remove the labels, as bacteria and mold can exist between the metal and label. After removing the labels, give all cans a thorough rinsing (with hot water if possible). Once rinsed, immerse the cans in boiling water for a few minutes. This will eradicate any surrounding bacteria from the outside of the can, and will ensure proper storage thereafter. Afterwards, replace all labels as needed and dry out the cans from the sanitizing process.


    Fire Warning:

    There are a number of concerns that exist during and after a fire, and all of which can compromise the safety of stored food. The first, and most obvious concern, is the generated heat from the actual fire. These higher temperatures can subject stored foods and meats to erratic (and likely unsafe) temperatures, leading to the growth of bacteria and mold. Even with cans and other 'sealed' foods, the exposure to high temperatures can quickly incite bacterial growth. Assume the worst, and inspect all food storage areas thoroughly to determine the given exposure to high temperature.  After a fire and when in doubt, always throw it out, and never use a 'taste test' to determine freshness or spoilage of any food type.

    Smoke fumes are another potential hazard, depending on the type of fire and extinguishing method. Certain fumes and toxins may be released from the actual fire, particularly if hazardous materials or chemicals are the root cause of the flames. Toxic chemicals are often used to extinguish specific fire types, and these can also potentially endanger the quality of food. Extinguisher chemicals can be carried into Refrigeration/Freezer units as well. Make sure to discard all chemical-coated foods and containers, and do not assume that toxic fumes from a fire are concentrated around the source. Check all refrigeration/freezer units in proximity to the fire source to determine if exposure has occurred.  


    Power Outages:

    As a power outage typically disables refrigeration and freezer units, one must pay special attention (and give exhaustive consideration) for each affected food item. To ensure proper food safety after a power outage or other disaster, keep close watch on the temperature changes during the outage. Despite temperature standards (40 degrees Fahrenheit for refrigerated items), some foods can be preserved even after they are held above 40 degrees during the outage. Here's a short list of 10 "temperature inspired tips" on whether to discard or save food after a power outage or disaster. Keep in mind, these guidelines are best practices for discarding/reusing food after 40F+ exposure for a minimum of two hours.

    • Meat, Poultry, Seafood: THROW AWAY
    • Fresh Pasta, Cooked Pasta, Rice, Potatoes: THROW AWAY
    • Low-Fat & Soft Cheeses: THROW AWAY
    • Pre-Cut, Packaged Greens: THROW AWAY
    • Fresh Fruit, Cut: THROW AWAY


    • Processed & Hard Cheeses: SAFE
    • Breakfast Foods (waffles, bagels, etc) : SAFE
    • Raw Vegetables: SAFE
    • Fruit Pies: SAFE
    • Opened Fruit Juices and Canned Fruit: SAFE

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  • Harvard Brain Bank Failure: Temperature Monitoring



    A little over a month ago, the Temperature@lert team uncovered yet another frightening "monitoring" tale from the Boston Globe (from Summer 2012). The article, centered around Harvard's Brain Tissue Resource Center at McLean Hospital (referred to herein as the "Harvard Brain Bank"), outlines a recent failure that affected several years of medical data.


    Here's a few statistics that crunch the data:

    Total Number of Lost Samples 147
    Time to Collect Samples 14+ Years
    Percentage of Lost 'Autism' Samples  37%

    In all, the 'Autism' samples represented nearly a quarter of all available 'brain samples' that are used for Autism research. The loss of years' worth of data is an outright tragedy, and will merely be remembered as 'lost work'. But how did this happen? How could the Harvard Brain Bank be so careless with precious brain samples? Aren't there best practices that are designed to prevent this type of disaster?

    The answer is, there are both 'best practices' and specialized devices that support them. The shocking truth in all of this, is that the Brain Bank's 'best practices' were not the cause of this failure. In fact, the losses were caused by failure of their own specialized devices. 

    (Read the original Boston Globe article here)


    What Happened:

    The Harvard Brain Bank houses about 24 freezers for their brain samples. Each of the 24 freezers are equipped with a digital readout for temperature. The freezers are supplemented by a backup system that detects freezer failures. In concept, this two-step 'confirmation' system should be enough to detect failures before they become critical problems. 

    Unfortunately, their two-step system failed on both fronts. Staff at the Brian Bank discovered  that Freezer 'U' had lost power several days earlier. This particular freezer showed a normal digital readout (-79 degrees Fahrenheit) despite having lost power, and the backup system failed to recognize the problem. Once making this discovery, the staff realized that 147 brain samples had defrosted, and were no longer suitable for use. A leading autism researcher commented that "so many autism brain samples should not have been stored in one freezer" and questions still exist as to why the samples were not distributed amongst the other 23 freezers. Regardless, their solution had a systematic breakdown that stemmed from a simple power outage.

    The Lesson:

    We can all shake fingers, rattle cages, and roll heads to prevent this disaster from happening again, but the more important thing is to identify the solution of the future and learn from these mistakes. Reality is, priceless data and research is often protected by simple technology, and these devices, for better or worse, are not always perfect. For this particular example, the failure was embedded in the power supply. The digital readouts and the backup systems were rendered useless without access to power, which seems like a common-sense consideration. Power can go out at anytime, but should your systems also fail simply because of lost power?


    The Solution

    Of course not! From the storage of valuable research material, all the way down to a simple server room, temperature devices should have a secondary connection option. A secondary connection would allow the device to transmit readings despite losing power from a common power outage.  With this feature, caretakers can receive notification of rising/falling temperatures during an outage. This is the ideal solution, especially when contrasted with the 'sudden discovery' of damaging temperatures in the days afterward at the Harvard Brain Bank. Any temperature monitoring solution that solely relies on AC power, is hardly a solution at all!

    Our Solution

    For this specific reason, we've fitted our Temperature@lert Cellular Edition with backup power functionality. Readings can be transmitted during outages with the pre-installed backup supply. Even with telephone lines down, the Cellular Edition utilizes the mobile phone networks to deliver timely alerts. We hope that other critical storage facilities are aware of this case-in-failure, and we're glad to offer a "dual-power" temperature monitoring system.  For more information on the Temperature@lert Cellular Edition, please visit our Products page.

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  • Vaccine Retrieval and Storage: Power Outages

    For most of us, a power outage is a sudden and temporary inconvenience that leaves us without our beloved gadgets and internet (that is, until the battery in your iPhone dies). But for vaccine storage, it's clear that a power outage brings larger and more troublesome obstacles. 

    It is virtually unavoidable to prevent all power failures. Storage faciilities must have back-up plans and back-up equipment to prepare for a power outage. Courtesy of the CDC's latest toolkit, here are a few procedures that you should be implementing in your power outage solution.


    1. Do not allow vaccines to remain in a nonfunctioning unit for an extended period of time, if you cannot forsee an immediate 'uptime' for the facility. 

    A homeowner might know this one instinctively; a power outage that lasts several hours can compromise the food in a home refrigerator/freezer. Though the food may be able to sustain an hour or two without cooling, it will eventually become a breeding ground for bacteria. Vaccines, on the other hand, are only effective when the temperature is kept within the required range. Avoid this by moving vaccines into emergency/secondary storage units as soon as possible after an outage.

    Generally, for attenuated vaccines (of which contain a weakened form of the actual virus), exposure to heat and light can compromise the contents. Be sure to move these vaccines to cooler zones immediately during a power outage. On the opposite side, inactivated vaccines are sensitive to freezing temperatures. However, it is difficult to determine whether inactived vaccines are frozen/affected by variable temperatures, and a simple "eye test" is never sufficient. Stay tuned for next weeks post on the differences between attenuated and inactivated vaccines.



    2. If you are certain that power will be restored before comprimising temperatures can settle in, continue to use caution and be safe, not sorry.

    Do NOT open a storage unit door until the power has been completely restored. Even if the outage is temporary, make sure to avoid exposing vaccines to uncontrolled and uncertain temperatures. Vaccine storage is really a calculated science, and the environment outside of the storage unit represents uncertainty, fluctuation, and variation (not helpful). Whereas on the inside, the temperature and climate are controlled, certain, and show very little fluctuation (ideal for vaccines). In an outage, keep vaccines in their proper dwelling, and be sure not to disturb the natural (and controlled) temperature within the units.


    3. Once power is restored:

     Check all refrigerators and freezers that have been affected by the loss of power. make sure to to mark storage units that have moved beyond their set thresholds (Refrigerator 2C-8C , Freezer -50C and -15C). Document the changes in temperature from the thresholds, and make sure to indicate how long vaccines were out of their required range. Such information is highly useful for disaster recovery plans, and can provide insight for future outages. If you ever have  suspicions about a vaccine(s) after a power outage, be sure to mark these with a "DO NOT USE" label and store them seperately. The key is to isolate the affected vaccines, and ensure that they're handled carefully after a power outage. With thorough planning, robust procedures, and attention to detail, affected vaccines can be recovered and bacterial growth can be averted afrer power outages.

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  • Essential Tech Check List: Building & Retrofitting Your Server Room

    Whether you're building a server room, adding on, or moving equipment there are many considerations to mull over. From the basics to alarm systems, it is important to ensure your server room is efficient and to protect your mission critical equipment. Previously in our blog, we have addressed the issues surrounding the microclimate present in your server room; however, it is critical to have an understanding of how a server room should be laid-out and managed. Use our check list as a guide for promoting security, efficiency, and productivity:

    Our Essential Tech Check List

    (1) Your Basics of Space

    • -Examine the layout of the space and how many units of space you have to work with.

    • -The walls (including ceiling) and doors should isolate the sounds that your equipment is creating.

    • -Check to see which way the door opens. There should also be no windows or other entry points other than the doors in the room.

    • -Consider the floor and whether your equipment will need raised flooring. Aim for anti-static floor finishing to prevent an unwanted static charge.

    • -Make sure there is enough clearance for racks and that they are stable enough to hold your equipment.

    • -Check for aisle clearance too, make sure your have enough room for exhaust to escape and not over-heat nearby equipment.

    • -Think about whether you need ladder racks, cabinets, shelves, patch panels, or rack mounts.

    • -Take into weight and size of each piece of equipment into consideration when designing the layout.

    (2) Keeping Your Cool

    • -Check and see what type if centralized cooling is available, whether an under the floor air distribution or an air duct system.

    • -If there is no centralized system available, get an air conditioner or cooling unit that is able to keep your equipment working productively while minimizing energy consumption and costs.

    • -If at all possible, fresh air vents are great and save on energy costs and consumption!

    • -Remove any and all radiators or other heating equipment currently present in the room. You don't need to add heat at all!

    • -Monitor your cooling system(s) to make sure it is working properly, especially when no one is there.

    • -Make sure your cooling units are not too close in proximity to your electrical equipment, think condensation and flooding. Do not place air conditioning units over your servers.

    • -Monitor the humidity to prevent static charge and electrical shorts.

    • -See if a chilled water system is in the budget or find something within the budget constraints to ensure that the hot air has somewhere to go.


    (3) Using Your Power

    • -Check to make sure that you have enough outlets to support power to all your equipment and not to overload them.

    • -Get backup power, preferably UPS to prevent data loss from power blinking or outages.

    • -Don't surpass the maximum electrical intensity per unit of space.

    • -Consider shut down capabilities of equipment (SNMP traps for example).

    • -Make sure your equipment is grounded.

    • -Monitor for power outages if you are not using back-up power systems.

    • -Monitor your back up power systems to make sure your mission critical equipment is not failing due to power loss.


    (4) Keeping Secure & Safe

    • -Have at least one phone present in the room in case of emergencies.

    • -Either check for a preexisting fire alarm system and install one if there isn't.

    • -Get a fire suppression system if there is not one there. Take into consideration of whether you will have a wet or dry suppression system and the effects that will have on your equipment. (Halon is a great choice!)

    • -Have reliable contacts to help resolve issues immediately, or form a system of escalation.

    • -Monitor for flooding, especially if this has happened historically in the past.

    • -Secure entrances/exits, this is expensive equipment with critical data, you don't want just anyone in there messing around!


    (5) Other Considerations

    • -Get the best cabling/wiring available within budget constraints. 

    • -Keep extra cabling/wiring around, because you never know when you may need it.

    • -Consider color coding wires/cables, a little more work now but definitely a time-saver in the future!

    • -Think about lighting: location & heat produced.

    • -If there is someone sharing the space, get them some earplugs! It's going to be loud in there with the equipment being used.

    • -Consider networking/phone lines being run in there and how much space you have left after that.

    • -Plan for future expansion or retrofitting (again).

    • -Leave the service loops in the ceilings.

    • -Label outlets.

    • -Get rid of dust, your equipment hates it!

    • -Check if you have a rodent/pest problem.

    • -Cover emergency shutoff switches so that it can't be accidentally triggered.

    • -Try to centralize the room in the building so that you can eliminate having to use more cabling/wiring than you need to.

    • -Meet OSHA and ASHRAE guidelines as well local codes.

    Is your server room or do you know of someone's server room that is not being monitored for temperature? Are you concerned with energy consumption, ability to monitor off-hours, and/or preventing mission critical equipment from failure? If you or know someone who is experiencing such issues, we want to hear form YOU!

    We will be giving away ONE FREE USB DEVICE per month to the server room with the most need! Valued at $129.99,Temperature@lert USB Edition is a low-cost, high-performance device that monitors the ambient temperature in your server room and alerts you via email when the temperature rises or falls outside your acceptable range.

    Please send a brief description, pictures, and/or videos to diane@temperaturealert.com for consideration! Our team will select one winner each month based on description and need, because we firmly believe that companies in every industry 

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  • Monitoring Devices and Vaccine Storage: A Global Concern

    We recently spoke with an individual from a reputable hospital who outlined a recent failure in one of their systems. According to the source, over 900 monitoring points were inactive as result of a faulty monitoring system. The question of"who's monitoring your monitoring device?" was part of our discussion on refrigerators, and is an extremely important issue. The upkeep of monitoring systems is an important piece of any "best practice" storage strategy. Unfortunately, this mishap at the US-based hospital is part of a larger theme around the world; that inadequate monitoring and storage of vaccines (and medicine) is still a significant problem.

    This basic infographic (kudos to msfaccess.org) shows a standard problem in vaccine storage and temperature control, as outlined by simple geographic location.


    Vacc Infographic ColdChain ENG 2012 web

    As we can see, Chad has environmental roadblocks to best storage practices for vaccines. This is only one of many majorconcerns in vaccine storage, and will continue to be a struggle for Africa as a whole.  In recent news, a bill “to provide for the establishment of a Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan” was passed.  This bill came nearly a full year after anestimated 40,000 cardiac patients in Lahore were given faulty drugs, leading to the deaths of nearly 100 people. Despite legal complications, this authority is absolutely necessary for the quality control and safety of Pakistan-based hospitals, clinics, and laboratories. Unfortunately, the 100 deaths constitute part of the basis for this bill. As quoted from the article, “In retrospect the lesson learnt from this experience is that decision-making should be guided by evidence, earlier on without the need for a catastrophic event to underscore its salience.”. This speaks to the deterrence question that we discussed last week with Hurricane Sandy and flooding;  preparation and prevention should not be based on a sole event or glaring weakness in any system. Preventative methods in Medicine should be proactive and progressive; weaknesses should be exploited before they can develop into larger problems. Whether the issue is environmental (like in Chad), financial, or legislative, the issue must be addressed sooner rather than later.

    There are obvious signs that the ‘authority’ is not the sole answer to the problem. The bill is referenced by statistics that estimate a presence of only 250 inspectors to monitor a variety of manufacturing facilities in one city. In terms of pharmacies in Pakistan, a 2005 survey from the International Journal for Health Care in Rawalpindi (3rd largest city) showed that only22% had qualified pharmacists on site, only 10% had temperature monitoring, and 4% alternative supply of electricity for refrigerators.  These numbers are shocking, given the Meningitis issue that we also discussed last week. It's also troubling that this authority has been established nearly 7 years after that survey was conducted; it's obvious to any reader that immediate action must be taken to improve the system. Still, the legal complications have made this "no-brainer" into a lengthy process.

    If we know that a single, isolated laboratory in Massachusetts can cause 300+ breakouts and 30+ deaths from one tainted batch of steroids, an entire city with less-than-adequate quality control in Pharmacies could be potentially disastrous. Quoted from the 'conclusions' of the 2005 survey, "Most drug sellers had fragmentary knowledge regarding drug dispensing and storage, and improper dispensing practices." Given the percentages listed, this ‘new’ authority will hopefully breathe a fresh breath into the Pharmaceutical industry of Pakistan.

    Since our induction, the Bio-Pharamceutical industry has been a primary (and sensitive) target for Temperature@lert.Temperature monitoring devices should be part of a larger prevention strategy for medicine (black matter in Steroids), and devices need to be regularly monitored and tested. Here at Temperature@lert, we have an excellent understanding of health guidelines and the necessary certifications that are needed for device application in the pharmaceutical industry. Unlike Property Management, in which consequences of inadequate temperature monitoring can translate into flooding  (bursted pipes) and overheating, the biopharmaceutical industry can house extremely sensitive (and valuable) research data and vaccines.  Particularly for vaccine storage, the cost of inadequate monitoring can be measured in lives lost, as seen in both the US and in Pakistan.

    Temperature@lert uses a National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) certification process for clients who request official documentation of our accuracy. With this certification, our Temperature@lert monitoring devices can be used in the most sensitive of circumstances, including storage of vaccines. The automated alerts are designed to help avert vaccine contamination or irregular temperature fluctuation, and can be configured in a number of ways. Our SensorCloud portal allows alert setting in 5 or 15 minute intervals. This is particularly important for Pharmaceutical companies, where best storage "practices" must be used for the mission-critical storage units.

    For more information on NIST Certification, Temperature sensors for Biopharmaceutical applications, or Sensor Cloud, contactsales@temperaturealert for a free consultation.

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