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  • Importing and Exporting: A Container Conundrum


    Whether you believe it to be detrimental or beneficial, globalization continues to alter literal and figurative landscapes the world over; and many inherent characteristics of this sweeping transformation are readily apparent in everyday commerce. Though these activities have dramatically increased in frequency over the past thirty years, businesses often remark that the regulatory guidelines and support systems overseeing and accompanying such movements, respectively speaking, haven’t evolved as fast as necessary.

    Two actions that occur interminably in ports across the U.S. are the importation and exportation of goods via shipping containers. Regardless of whether they are transported by water, land, or air, there are governmental requirements to follow, risks to mitigate, and assets to protect. Major ports leave little room for error. The Port Newark Container Terminal handles over 600,000 containers annually with plans to double that number by 2030. Goods can be lost during transfer or seized by U.S. Customs if lapses in cargo oversight or regulatory compliance occur.

    Depending on which industry or industries a company operates within, the goods it imports and exports are subject to various and sometimes quite specific forms and levels of federal classification, regulation, and duties. The more accurate and responsive a firm is with information regarding a shipment, the faster exportation or importation can transpire; and similar to most other business processes, time equals money.


    Export.gov is a helpful and thorough resource that guides firms through the often-intricate affair of exportation. The U.S. State Department, which implements and manages export controls, lists the following as the crux of its efforts:

    The U.S. government controls exports of sensitive equipment, software and technology as a means to promote our national security interests and foreign policy objectives. Through our export control system, the U.S. government can effectively:

         • Provide for national security by limiting access to the most sensitive U.S. technology and weapons

         • Promote regional stability

         • Take into account human rights considerations

         • Prevent proliferation of weapons and technologies, including of weapons of mass destruction, to problem end-users and        supporters of international terrorism

         • Comply with international commitments, i.e. nonproliferation regimes and UN Security Council sanctions and UNSC        resolution 1540

    Regarding the inbound flow of containers and their contents, post 9/11 the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s mission shifted away from its former charge of trade protection and tariff collection to a more pressing primary objective: detecting, deterring, and preventing terrorists and their weapons from entering the United States. The full guide, written in 2003 and revised in 2006, is available to importers here and addresses topics like free trade, origin marking, product classification, and small-business importation.


    As you might have already deduced, April’s posts are dedicated to importing and exporting supply chain materials or goods. Moving beyond this broad overview, each of the next three weeks will take a closer look at specific industry regulations; large U.S. freight forwarders and the particular challenges of shipping by land, air, or sea; and implementing a comprehensive asset protection solution that tracks and monitors containers traveling long, sometimes unfavorable distances. It should be a productive and intriguing month, so if you haven’t already, bookmark us.


    free Temperature@lert ebook




    Written by:

    Chris Monaco, Covert Content Creator

    As a man of many achievements, Chris Monaco is Temperature@lert’s newest Covert Content Creator. Hailing from Beverly, MA, Chris is armed with a trifecta of degrees, from a BFA (Maine at Farmington), to an MFA (Lesley University), all the way up to his most recent achievement; the coveted MBA from Suffolk University. Outside of his academic travels, Chris has added many international stamps to his passport, including: Seoul, Korea and Prague, Czech Republic, wherein Chris taught English as a Second Language to dozens of international students. His hobbies include writing, skiing, traveling, reading, and the world of politics. His personal claims to fame include two cross-country car trips through the U.S. and a summer’s worth of courageously guiding whitewater rafting trips. Chris’ ideal temperature is 112°F, the optimal temperature for a crisp shave.

    Chris Monaco Temperature@lert

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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.

      Temperature@lertTemperature@lertTemperature@lertTemperature@lert

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

    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.

     

    ###

     

    Contact:

    Diane Deng

    Temperature@lert

    866-524-3540 x506


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  • Choosing a Temperature Sensor: A Paradox of Choice

    Choosing a Temperature Sensor:

    A Paradox of Choice

    In his 'Paradox of Choice' series, Barry Schwartz makes a number of arguments relative to choice, how we choose between different options, and the anxieties that can arise with what we might call "too much choice".  An abundance of choice can drive away a confident decision because the "choicee" is overwhelmed with potential options, and in turn a feeling of uncertainty and paralysis enters the buyer's realm. This can be seen in many places and industries, we'll use fast food as one particular example. The numbered menu system, or "Value Meals" dilute menu offerings into simple choices, allowing customers to make one decision to solve a multi-faceted food problem. By meshing together a side and a drink option, a majority of customers need make only one decision to solve the lunch quandary, and the resulting effect of a value meal is to discourage or downplay the number of choices, and to encourage (or promote) simplicity to eliminate the buyer's "paralysis".

    The application of this idea expands far beyond Fast Food, and sure enough, many vendors and distributors of temperature sensors fall into the same hole. The paradox of choice, particularly with the sensor market, can be particularly overwhelming. A quick dive into a well-known vendor brings a temperature sensor lineup with 81 separate choices, each having specific applications, uses, and some overlapping features. When choosing a temperature sensor, this paradox of choice can arise quickly.
     

    In truth, following Schwartz' words, we know that choices are a highlight and benefit of our consumerist world, but we also know that these choices, particularly when that diverse, can be paralyzing and intimidating to confront. The customer asks the expert for advice, and the expert provides the customer with options (and in turn, we reallocate the responsibility of a solution back to the customer), and a customer is then tasked with selecting the solution out of a range of choices. By this point, the customer is forced into making a decision based on expertise that they don't actually have. It sounds silly; how can an expert in any field, solution, or product line point a potential buyer into a drowning pool of choice, customization, and options? Shouldn't these 'experts' be simplifying the solution process to ease this paralysis?
     

    The answer should be yes. Temperature sensors and other sensor types are not simple products or purchases (versus the fast food example), but customers need a simple landscape to explore. Temperature@lert has always been focused on ease of use and differentiation, and further, we've simplified the platter of choice for our customers.
     

    Other vendors showcase their own abundance of choices for reasons of differentiation, as seen in a "Over 90 products and 32 sensor types" value proposition. This positioning sounds appealing, but it's not helpful in a customer's journey to a solution. Other vendors will also use branded names for their products, which only adds to the obscurity and confusion about functionality and practical use.  A "MicroGoose" is hardly a self-explanatory product, and customers are forced into educating themselves on the product names for differentiation when buying. While this is not entirely difficult to understand, it represents a step that we seek to eliminate. These are again examples wherein choosing a temperature sensorbecomes a paradox of choice.
     

    In addressing this issue, we've defined our USB, WIFI, and Cellular products to be self explanatory. Aside from our triumvirate of robust products, we seek provide a simple needs-based choice for our customers, rather than a catch-all warehouse of sensors and products that are overwhelming. By eliminating that uncertainty, or the supposed paralysis that results from too many sensor choices, we can give our customers a simple, digestible, and focused monitoring solution. 

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  • Temperature@lert's Latest Generation WiFi Temperature Monitoring Device is Released!

    Temperature@lert has officially launched its latest generation WiFi Edition remote temperature sensor, the WIFI330, which can use either wireless or wired internet. Their newest version of the WiFi Edition integrates the successful features of its predecessor along with their latest innovations, and offers customers the latest user-friendly and cost-effective temperature-monitoring device. The latest generation’s features include:

    • Four Sensor/Probe Ports – Significantly Reducing the Price Point

    • Two Ethernet Ports

    • 3X Faster Processing Speed

    • Flood Sensor Capability

    • Firmware Updates Without Loss of User Settings

    • Updates From the Web Interface

    • Optional Sensor Cloud service for Online Viewing and Smartphone Apps

    Previous generation’s successful features incorporated into the new WIFI330 comprise of:

    • Combination Temperature/Humidity Option – Adds on Relative Humidity Monitoring for Critical Applications

    • Predrilled Mounting Flange – Facilitates permanent mounting of the unit

    • Power over Ethernet (PoE) support – Enables operation without AC power adapter

    • Continuous monitoring and Email alerts when temperature or (optional) humidity goes above or below user specified levels

    • WiFi and Ethernet connectivity – Operates so long as your network is available

    • Security – No software to load onto your computers or servers

    • Supports SNMP Traps

    • Supports SMTP via SSL/TLS and SMTP Authentication

    • Pre-calibrated Sensors – NIST Certification available (additional cost)

    • User programmable open source Linux operating system for custom reporting, alarms, etc.

    “The successful implementation of previous generation WiFi devices has only proven the importance of continually developing the Temperature@lert WiFi edition in order to meet users’ needs,” says Harry Schechter, Temperature@lert CEO & President. “The newest capabilities only expand upon what has already been successfully implemented, thus being able to offer an even more cost-effective temperature monitoring solution to IT, Commercial Refrigeration, Property/Facility Management, Food Services, Laboratory Research, as well as a number of other industries. Our company motto has always been to avert disaster instead of mopping up and we hope to continue to be the prime choice in monitoring solutions.”


    For more information on Temperature@lert’s WIFI330 Edition: http://www.temperaturealert.com/Wireless-Temperature-Store/Temperature-Alert-WiFi-Sensor.aspx.

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  • Vaccine Cold Chain Technologies: Temperature Solutions

    Vaccine Cold Chain Technologies


    Even from the simplistic representation, we regard the vaccine cold chain as a sophisticated network of distributors and manufacturers, reliant on organization, responsibility, and best practices to meet their goals. Most of all, the implementation of sophisticated cold chain technology (refrigeration systems, GPS devices, and temperature monitoring solutions to name a few) is also important to improve old ways, eliminate bad practices, and maintain quality of the transported vaccines. Despite technological advancements, many of these bad practices still exist. Without these technologies, a vaccine may be exposed to a number of hazardous conditions or inadequate practices. In the steps to the 'Child and Mother', there are many important 'points' by which the chain can be broken.

    Unfortunately, while many larger and more prominent "chains" have the financial means to implement scalable and comprehensive technology solutions (from manfucturer to patient), many bad practices and inadequate technologies remain in the industry. The CDC administers over $3 billion worth of vaccines to lower income families through the VFC (Vaccines for Children) program each year, and with that said, the vaccine cold chain plays an important quality control (and assurance) role in this program. 


    There are several issues to consider for vaccine cold chain technologies, and one of the most prominent issues is the lack of adequate temperature monitoring solutions. On the surface, vaccines stored outside the sensitive 2-8°C range can become ineffective if exposed for an extended time period. A recent analysis by Vaccine made an estimate that 14-35% of vaccines are subjected to variable storage temperatures during delivery. There are several concerns that arise out of this analysis; the costs associated with manufacture and delivery are wasted, delivery of vaccines may be delayed, but most importantly, the actual recipients may be given a comprised vaccine, or worse, one tainted with bacteria.

    Given the strict 2-8°C compliance for most vaccines, the focus shifts to the monitoring technologies within the refrigerators or freezers. A refrigerator unit must be monitored from several different points to avoid confusion with common cycles and processes. These may include refrigeration cycles, air circulations patterns, use patterns, environmental conditions, and defrost cycles. All of these processes can negatively affect the accuracy of a temperature monitoring device.With that said, the proceeding paper log is a familiar (and troublesome) sight in the vaccine cold chain, and highlights the need for a robust temperature monitoring solution.


    There are many advantages that electronic data loggers (or temperature monitoring devices) bring to the vaccine cold chain. There are several devices that provide a low-cost, high-performance solution for temperature monitoring, and the benefits are tremendous when juxtaposed with the beleagured logging chart.

    • Continuous monitoring: All changes are captured, logged, and can be accessed at any time.

    • Simplicity: These devices are easy to use, easy to install, and provide a high level of accuracy.

    • Results: Data is quickly calculated and can be analyzed instantly, often from a cloud portal or GUI-based software.

    • Alarm Capabilities: Email notifications, text notifications, phone calls, and user-defined networks for alerting cold chain personnel

    • Glycol/Sand Sensor Buffers: Provides an estimate of properties/mass of vaccine and allows accurate temperature measurements for the vaccines.

    For further reading on evaluating and installing temperature monitoring devices for the vaccine cold chain, we recommend this guide on Temperature, Pressure, and Flow Metrology from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).


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  • 50,000+ Sensors Under the Sea: Siemens Recall

    50,000+ Temperature/Humidity Sensors:

    Siemens Recall


    Here at Temperature@lert, we keep a sharp eye for news stories that are related to temperature monitoring, including product announcements, press releases, and other articles of interest. It's a rare sight to find 'temperature monitoring' as a subject in the Wall Street Journal or other trusted news sources, and we'll be honest, there are usually more pressing issues (politics, world hunger, poverty) that fit the news bill. However, the uncovering of a recent story (just one month ago) reminds us all of the importance of reliable temperature monitoring, and the scale by which these devices are implemented in a variety of businesses. Such "Temperature Monitoring" may seem like a small and innocent subject, but this recent recall shows how these devices, and the problems that may arise, are anything but small and insignificant.

    On January 23, 2013, an announcement was made to recall over 50,000 Siemens "Q-Series temperature/Room Relative Humidity/ Relative Humidity and Temperature Sensors"  from a variety of business types and sizes. The recall came as a result of four separate reports from schools and hospitals that had reported trouble with the device.

    The word "recall" is often attributed to automobiles, wherein thousands of cars are potentially hazardous and must be returned/altered immediately. The problems that compose a recall are generally serious mechanical or electrical issues that can potentially endanger the driver or passengers. So what exactly was the cause of a 50,000 sensor recall, affecting countless businesses around the country?

    Quoting Siemens' own website: (in truth, we're shocked to read this)

    "The Siemens sensor, when used under certain high-power input conditions, can have a capacitor on the printed circuit board degrade over time and then fail which can overheat and in some cases could result in the possibility of fire, property damage, or personal injury."

    and further (from USCPSC.gov)

    "Four incidents of overheating and fires have been reported to Siemens.  Two of the fires were in schools and two in hospitals. Minor damage was reported. No injuries have been reported."

    To recap the situation, remember that these temperature/humidity sensors were installed to alert to potential rises in temperature, and prevent the possibility of fires or property damage. And to that end, these devices fell victim to the very problem they were attempting to prevent, or deter. It's really a dose of irony and silliness, the deterioration of the actual device led to ultimate demise, rendering the sensors as the cause of the problem rather than the preventative solution. Siemens' has taken corrective action and will install/replace sensors as necessary. 

    We'd never regard ourselves or our products as '100% perfect', but this type of slip-up is both embarrassing and concerning. The sheer number of recalled sensors doesn't exactly instill confidence in the consumer or buyer; perhaps other massively-distributed sensors or Siemens products may also be hazardous. There are many devices and systems that we install to provide oversight and supervision of certain hazards or conditions, but these devices should never be the actual cause of the problem that they're assigned to solve. A temperature sensor, temperature monitoring device, or any of the attributed buzzwords you choose, should never be the cause of an actual fire or property damage. The noted 'degradation' of the capacitor could be a hardware shortcut; it's possible that Siemens attempted to use inexpensive hardware for this particular electrical component to cut costs on the sensors.

    Whatever the case may be, it's a fascinating look at the extent of a hardware failure, and we can only be hopeful that the 50,000+ replacements devices are outfitted to prevent fire (or general failure), rather than be the cause of the problem. We anticipate that the fallout from this recall will be minimal, but in terms of reputation, Siemens may have to reassure clients in the future that this was an isolated incident, even with a recall of this size.

    Visit the page on the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC) website for the official announcement, compromised model numbers, and other information for the recall. 

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  • Server Room is too Hot?

    Is your Server Room too hot?

    If you suspect so, then you've come to the right place. For those unfamiliar with the potential hazards that a "hot server room" can cause, pay close attention! A neglected server room, that is, one with inadequate monitoring and poor supervision, is a serious hazard for your business. Remember, much of your company infrastructure (from web applications or database servers) lives and breathes on your server racks.


    According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), when the server room cooling system fails, you have about 8 minutes before temperatures reach dangerous levels for equipment. Even if equipment isn't knocked offline from a temperature spike, exposure to extreme temperatures can seriously decrease 
    the life of the equipment if your server room is too hot.

    Be wary of the potential hazards of an unsupervised server room. Try explaining this picture to your C-Suite.


    Ouch! Next time you realize that "my server room is too hot", remember that pre-emptive methods and monitoring devices are your best resources. These best practices will outline an ideal monitoring strategy for your server room. 

     _____________________________________________________________________________

     

    Monitor Temperature:

    Keep a logic-based system to prevent overheating. For example, if temperatures rise above 24°C, then an automated cooling unit should activate to counteract the rising temperature. 

     

    Monitor Humidity:

    Ensure that the humidity within your server room is not too high or too low. Low humidity levels can increase the liklihood of Electrostatic Discharge (ESD). Significant voltage can build up between dry surfaces and cause catastrophic failure if the humidity is too low. By contrast, high humidity levels can translate to increased rust of equipment. Keep in mind: the following suggestions serve as a general rule of thumbBe sure to check equipment manuals for pre-specified instructions on humidity levels if you suspect that your server room is too hot.


    Potential Risks for 40% Humidity and Below

    -ESD (Electrostatic Discharge)

    -Malfunctioning Equipment (Due to short circuits) 

    ______________________________________________________________
     

    Potential Risks for 60% Humidity and Above

    -Monolayers of water on surfaces

    -Rusting

    -Disk Drive Wear (corrosion/friction of disk head)

     

     

    (General Recommendation for Temperature: 10°C -28°C)
    (Ideal Ambient Temperature: 20-21°C)

    (Humidity: Between 40-60%)

     

    Monitor your Monitor!

    You can't sit in the server room all day, and what about after hours? Do you know when your server farm is beginning to overheat? Can you always rely on the designated employee to monitor the room and alert you?

    How do you know if humidity levels are rising on Saturday night? (while you're at home) Will you then "hope" that your racks aren't rusted by Monday morning? Find yourself hoping that your server room isn't too hot?

    Don't hope, be prepared! The best deterrant to these obstacles is a robust monitoring system. Temperature@lert's combination humidity and temperature sensor pack an excellent punch for holistic monitoring of your server room, and will prolong the shelf-life of your server equipment.

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