temperature@lert blog

  • Long-term Damage from Overheating in Data Centers

    Last week we reviewed three examples in which overheating caused severe malfunction to data centers. In the case of Microsoft, the outlook.com endured a 16-hour long outage on March 14th of 2013, and this unexpected accident brought on trouble for users. Similar downtimes took place in other data centers as well. Regardless of the sizes and services of their data centers, no company is immune to the constant threat of overheating.


    Meanwhile, overheating causes more damage than immediate failures.  An increase from 68 °F to 86 °F can lower the long-term reliability of the equipment by as much as 50%. Professor Robert G. Brown from Duke University pointed out that excessive heat “weakens electronic components like power supplies, motherboards, and memory chips, so even if they don’t fail immediately, they become more susceptible to failure over time.” In his blog article “Skimp on Server Room Air Conditioning? At Your Peril." he writes, “power supplies, motherboards, memory chips -- that kind of heat weakens components so that forever afterward they are more susceptible to failure, not just during the event. The overheating can just occur one time, for a few minutes, and you’ll be cursing and bitching for months and months later dealing with all the stuff that got almost-damaged, including the stuff that isn’t actually broken, just bent out of spec so that it fails, sometimes, under load.”



    According to Professor Brown, one time a server room got drastically overheated for an extended period, it was followed by node crashes and a series of hardware failures over the next three months, “some immediate and obviously due to overheating, some a week later, two weeks later, four weeks later.”


    Even though some individual servers come with built-in temperature monitoring devices, which automatically send alerts if the temperature around the server is too high, it is not enough to ensure safe operating temperatures, because data center temperatures vary from one area to another

    Please consider the following guidelines in order to protect data centers from varying environmental conditions:

    - Temperature and humidity sensors should be installed on or near individual racks and critical devices

    - Measurements should be logged and graphed over time to help administrators spot trends, such as temperature spikes during peak operating hours or fluctuations

    - Sensors should be placed:

    - On top, middle, and bottom of individual racks to measure the heat being generated by equipment

    - At the air conditioning system’s intake and discharge vents to measure efficiency

    - Probes should be placed around critical devices because the temperature inside a rack-mounted device could be as much as 20° higher than the surrounding area

    - A probe near the thermostat can help check what the thermostat is “seeing” while controlling the room temperature

    To prevent disasters or correct them before any damage is done, Temperature@lert has designed an array range of low-cost automated products that protect your precious assets 24/7 while minimizing or even eliminating the amount of time, effort and expertise needed to install them, as well as the amount of time needed to manually check on current environmental conditions. Temperature@lert products are simple and reliable – simple in that we only include the features you need. Reliable because most of our products represent 4th or 5th generation hardware, so you know they’re battle tested.

    Temperature@lert IT Guide


    Written by:

    Ivory Wu, Sharp Semantic Scribe

    Traveling from Beijing to Massachusetts, Ivory recently graduated with a BA from Wellesley College in Sociology and Economics. Scholastic Ivory has also studied at NYU Stern School of Business as well as MIT. She joins Temperature@lert as the Sharp Semantic Scribe, where she creates weekly blog posts and assists with marketing team projects. When Ivory is not working on her posts and her studies, she enjoys cooking and eating sweets, traveling and couch surfing (12 countries and counting), and fencing (She was the Women's Foil Champion in Beijing at 15!). For this active blogger, Ivory's favorite temperature is 72°F because it's the perfect temperature for outdoor jogging.

    Chris Monaco Temperature@lert

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  • Shipping Containers: Lost but Rarely Found, Never Mind Monitored


    With an industry as commercially strong and as geographically expansive as shipping—especially where it concerns the transport of containers by sea—operational mishaps and security breaches are quite difficult to prevent and perhaps impossible to eliminate, but some of the trade’s truths and recent developments are almost too incredible to believe.
        
    To start, roughly 10,000 containers are lost to the ocean every year. Yup, 10,000. Top-heavy ships list in rough sea conditions, and unstable containers roll from their positions. Some vessels even split in half before sinking. Regardless of their last known location, the vast majority of containers are never found because they are not individually tracked.

    Companies like Nike and Frito-Lay lose product and subsequent revenue, while insurance companies payout claims in the hundreds of millions. One container lost in 1992 spilled thousands of rubber ducks and turtles into the Pacific, and twenty-one years later, the little bathtub toys were still washing up onto beaches across the globe.

    Even when containers and their contents are safely transported from port to port, they can be abandoned for a multitude of reasons like poor communication, unpaid bills, regulations, and even consignee bankruptcy. More severe and disconcerting is the seizure of illegal and dangerous goods. Drugs are quite commonly found by U.S. customs officials, and smuggled animal products are still discovered by agents in ports around the world. What all these examples have in common is the problem of what to do with the actual containers once their sometimes extraordinary and cinematically famous contents have been auctioned off or, um, awoken from an evening of much-needed sleep.

    Generally speaking, shipping lines assume the cost of redistributing these empty metal boxes. For example, each year Maersk spends around $1 billion on moving their 4 million unused containers back to where they are most needed, but very often ports are left holding these unwanted, cumbersome, and expensive-to-remove receptacles. However, after seeing more and more photographs like these:

    shipping containers


    Some folks have decided to go bold in their quest for repurposing empty and abandoned containers. The trend of designing and constructing commercial and residential properties from the shells of old, even rusty shipping boxes is a global one that has gained tremendous momentum, even in the United States.

    Indeed, inquiry, ingenuity, and engineering may have once again created another consumer avenue where folks originally thought none could exist, and from those same characteristics derives an answer to the fundamental problem of container tracking and monitoring. Though such a solution won’t prevent your container from accidentally entering the ocean, it can let you and your freight forwarder know where it is, and that it’s utterly alone.



    Next week we’ll take a step-by-step approach to the introduction and installation of one of these cloud-based monitoring systems. See you then.

     

    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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  • Wireless Temperature Monitoring System Topology Considerations

    Smart decisions during the evaluation process can help simplify the sensor network layout.


    In this ongoing series centered around NYC Hospital Queens’ experience in selecting and installing a Wireless Temperature Monitoring (WTM) system to track medications and blood in hospital refrigerators (Link to Article) several factors as to the placement of WTM devices to support 174 refrigerators, freezers, and other critical areas in a hospital that is comprised of four main buildings, some built in the 1950s needed to be taken into account.


    As was noted in a previous piece, the WTM system chosen at NYC Hospital Queens uses  wireless receivers located above the ceiling as communication bridges between the sensor modules and the hospital’s IT network.  The author notes, “signal strength dictates the number of receivers needed. Our institution comprises four main buildings, some of which were built in the late 1950s. Thus, the signal strength of the sensors in the oldest building was less than optimal and required the addition of multiple receivers to provide consistent readings. Basement areas also may require multiple receivers”.

    Temperature@lert WIFI Monitoring Device

    WiFi WTM device installed in server room provides a strong signal, good range and fast data rate without the expense of additional equipment (e.g. repeater/gateway).


    Evaluating a WTM device’s signal strength or range in all of the locations to be monitored is paramount before selecting any one technology.  Depending on the wireless technology chosen, each wireless sensor type may require more or fewer receivers to make the connection, resulting in more or less complex and higher or lower cost deployments.  NYC Hospital Queens could possibly have chosen a device that does not need a receiver (a.k.a. gateway) but had sufficient signal strength to communicate to the site’s IT network directly.  A standard WiFi device could potentially provide such capability without the added expense of a receiver/gateway device.

    Mesh network showing sensor nodes (red/green) and receivers/gateways (red).  In this case some sensors also act as gateways and can help link remote sensors without the added cost of a dedicated gateway. (Link to Source)



    Some wireless technologies are able to overcome interference from the building infrastructure, equipment or furnishings that others may not.  Other wireless technologies have mesh network capability, meaning the wireless sensors or receiver/gateways can communicate with each other.  Therefore when one device is not operating properly or experiences signal degradation caused by interference, the device can communicate with an alternative neighboring device to maintain the network integrity.  And still other WTM designs employ receiver/gateways that can contain their own temperature sensor(s) in addition to serving as a gateway, providing an additional pathway to lower the complexity and cost of the system.   Evaluating wireless devices from several vendors, each using different wireless technologies, WiFi, ZigBee, RFID, Bluetooth, proprietary, etc. can help the user understand how each works in the various locations to be monitored.


    But what does one do when these technologies don’t work or are not feasible for a hospital’s IT network?  For example, some IT departments are averse to adding new devices to their internal networks due to security or capacity capacity concerns because continuous temperature monitoring of 174 sensors in the case of New York Hospital Queens for example can generate a lot of data quickly.  To meet the hospital’s need, historical data needs to be maintained, secured, and stored for an extended period of time for regulatory purposes.  Adding alerting capability to the WTM system, for example sending email, text or phone call messages when something goes wrong, means an additional level of IT capacity is needed to send and log these alerts. Adding an escalation plan for times when issues do not get resolved in a timely manner adds an additional level of complexity.  Close collaboration with the hospital’s IT resources will be needed to determine what is possible and what is not.

    Temperature@lert How It Works


    If IT capacity or network policies make it very difficult if not impossible to add a WTM system, what options exist?  One good option is a cellular gateway that communicates directly to the wireless sensor network and uploads data to cloud based sensors via major carrier cellular networks.   Temperature@lert’s Cellular Edition is one such device.  Each Cellular Edition is equipped with a cellular transmitter/receiver that communicates through national cellular carrier networks to Temperature@lert’s Sensor Cloud web based storage, reporting and alerting services.  Each Cellular Edition can link to several Z-Point wireless sensor nodes resulting in up to 45 sensors being monitored via one Cellular Edition gateway depending on signal strength and equipment layout.


    Understanding how any new wireless network will operate at a site requires study and testing.  Once the locations to be monitored are mapped and solutions that the organization’s IT department supports are determined, those tasked with the WTM decision are ready to make their recommendation.  This all takes time and energy, so add that to the planning process and everyone will have a better understanding of who, what, when, where and why the final selection is made.  Because once this happens and the installation starts, it will be good to have the history to remind all how they got here.


    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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  • Overheating: The Concern Over Stability in Data Centers

    One of the major concerns of global organizational operations is business continuity.

    Because firms rely on their information systems to operate, once a system shuts down unexpectedly, company operation will be impaired inevitably or even stopped. It is crucial for firms to provide a stable and reliable infrastructure for IT operations and reduce the possibility of disruptions. Besides emergency backup power generation, a data center also needs to closely monitor the operation rooms in order to ensure the continuous functionality of its hosted computer environment .

    The Uptime Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico, defined four levels of availability as shown below:


    Temprature@lert Image Uptime Institute

     
    The tolerance for unavailability of service of the tier systems is listed below over one year (525,600 minutes): 


    Tier 1 (99.671%) status would allow 1729.224 minutes
    Tier 2 (99.741%) status would allow 1361.304 minutes
    Tier 3 (99.982%) status would allow 94.608 minutes
    Tier 4 (99.995%) status would allow 26.28 minutes 



    High temperature is one of the major causes that lead to severe malfunction or damage to data centers. Many data centers have reported losses due to overheating conditions, including some of the leading firms. On March 14th 2013, Microsoft’s outlook.com service endured a 16-hour long outage caused by “a rapid and substantial temperature spike in the data center.” Wikipedia also experienced similar troubles on March 24th, 2010. “Due to an overheating problem in our European data center, many of our servers turned off to protect themselves”, as reported by Wikimedia on its tech blog (http://blog.wikimedia.org/2010/03/24/global-outage-cooling-failure-and-dns/). Earlier in the same year, too much hot air in the operation room knocked Spotify offline as one of the big air conditioner didn’t start properly.   


    Microsoft’s lengthy down time in 2013 was an unexpected accident due to its routine firmware updates. It caused a lot of trouble for customers who could not log into their Outlook and Hotmail accounts for a whole calendar day. 


    On the other hand, according to Domas Mituzas, the performance engineer at Wikipedia, the cost of downtime for the user-managed encyclopedia is minimal that “the down time used to be [their] most profitable product” because Wikipedia displays donation-seeking information for additional servers when it is offline. 


    The losses suffered from the shutdowns vary from firm to firm, and it is necessary for all parties to install safeguard process and close monitoring to minimize the potential damage. Next week we will briefly discuss how to protect your data center from changing environmental conditions.  


    Temperature@lert ebook



    Reference:


    Tom Warren, “Microsoft blames overheating datacenter for 16-hour Outlook outage”, March 14, 2013.
    http://www.theverge.com/2013/3/14/4102720/outlook-outage-overheating-datacenter

    Rich Miller, “Wikipedia’s Data Center Overheats”,  March 25th, 2010. 
    http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2010/03/25/downtime-for-wikipedia-as-data-center-overheats/

    Nicole Kobie , “Overheating London data centre takes Spotify offline”, Feb 22nd, 2010.
    http://www.itpro.co.uk/620752/overheating-london-data-centre-takes-spotify-offline


    Written by:

    Ivory Wu, Sharp Semantic Scribe

    Traveling from Beijing to Massachusetts, Ivory recently graduated with a BA from Wellesley College in Sociology and Economics. Scholastic Ivory has also studied at NYU Stern School of Business as well as MIT. She joins Temperature@lert as the Sharp Semantic Scribe, where she creates weekly blog posts and assists with marketing team projects. When Ivory is not working on her posts and her studies, she enjoys cooking and eating sweets, traveling and couch surfing (12 countries and counting), and fencing (She was the Women's Foil Champion in Beijing at 15!). For this active blogger, Ivory's favorite temperature is 72°F because it's the perfect temperature for outdoor jogging.

    Chris Monaco Temperature@lert

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  • Contained: The Federal Regulations of Importation

    When importing goods to the U.S., a firm must be sure that the contents of their inbound containers conform to the articles present within the Code of Federal Regulations’ Customs Duties section. In addition, freight forwarders must be thorough in their container tracking, clearing, and collection processes as wares arrive into port. Any failure in either area could result in the seizure or forfeiture of a container or containers. 


    Container Tracking

    While there are roughly 200 applicable customs regulations, for the sake of sanity, this blog post will focus on three of them. The first pertains to the act of entry and what is required of importers once a container reaches an American port. Highlights from CFR 19 Part 142 are such:

    After arrival of merchandise. merchandise for which entry is required will be entered within 15 calendar days after landing from a vessel, aircraft or vehicle, or after arrival at the port of destination in the case of merchandise transported in bond.

    Contents. The entry documentation required to secure the release of merchandise must consist of the following:

    (a) (1) Entry

    (b) (2) Evidence of the right to make entry. 

    (c) (3) Commercial invoice. 

    (d) (4) Packing list.

    (e) (5) Other documentation. Other documents which may be required by CBP or other Federal, State, or local agencies for a particular shipment.

    (f) (6) Identification. When merchandise is imported having been sold, or consigned, to a person in the United States, the name, street address, and appropriate identification number of that person must be shown on the entry documents.
     


    Container Clearing

    Another section of interest is CFR 19 Part 11, which details the packing, stamping, and marking of specific items like alcohol and tobacco and wool, fur, and textile products and the penalties one could incur if careless errors or blatant neglect are discovered:

    (a) All cigars and cigarettes imported into the United States, except importations by mail and in baggage, shall be placed in the public stores or in a designated bonded warehouse to remain until inspected, weighed, and repacked, if necessary, under the Customs and internal-revenue laws. However, if the invoice and entry presented specify all of the information necessary for prompt determination of the estimate duty and tax on the packages of cigars and cigarettes covered thereby, the port director may permit designation of less than the entire importation for examination.

    (b) (a) The port director, in his discretion, may require marks, brands, stamps, labels, or similar devices to be placed on any bulk container used for holding, storing, transferring, or conveying imported distilled spirits, wines, and malt liquors.

    (c) (a) Wool products imported into the United States, except those made more than 20 years prior to importation, and except carpets, rugs, mats, and upholsteries, shall have affixed thereto a stamp, tag, label, or other means of identification.

    (d) (a) Fur products imported into the United States shall have affixed thereto a label. The term “fur product” means any article of wearing apparel made in whole or in part of fur or used fur; except that such term shall not include such articles as the Federal Trade Commission shall exempt by reason of the relatively small quantity or value of the fur or used fur contained therein.

    (e) (a) Textile fiber products imported into the United States shall be labeled or marked in accordance with the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder by the Federal Trade Commission. An invoice or other paper, containing the specified information may be used in lieu of a label where the textile product is not in the form intended for sale, delivery to, or for use by the ultimate consumer.

    Container Collection

    Our final look involves the components of CFR 19 Part 127, a section dedicated to the holding, abandonment, and sale of imported merchandise; and its this last procedure that has become the conceptual springboard for a highly entertaining and widely viewed A&E show. The most prominent points of this regulation include the following:

    Merchandise shall be considered general order merchandise when it is taken into the custody of the port director and deposited in the public stores or a general order warehouse at the risk and expense of the consignee for any of the following reasons:

    (a) Whenever entry of any imported merchandise is not made within the time provided by law or regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury.

    (b) Whenever entry is incomplete because of failure to pay estimated duties.

    (c) Whenever, in the opinion of the port director, entry cannot be made for want of proper documents or other causes.

    (d) Whenever the port director believes that any merchandise is not correctly or legally invoiced.

    (e) Whenever, at the request of the consignee or the owner or master of the vessel or person in charge of the vehicle in which merchandise is imported, any merchandise is taken possession of by the port director after the expiration of 1 day after entry of the vessel or report of the vehicle.

    Any entered or unentered merchandise which remains in Customs custody for 6 months from the date of importation or a lesser period for special merchandise as provided, and without all estimated duties and storage or other charges having been paid, shall be considered unclaimed and abandoned.

    All unclaimed and abandoned merchandise will be sold at the first regular sale held after the merchandise becomes subject to sale, unless a deferment of its sale is authorized by the port director. Regular sales shall be made once every year or more often at the discretion of the port director.

    From the proceeds of sale of merchandise remaining in public stores or in bonded warehouse beyond the time fixed by law, the following charges shall be paid in the order named:

    (a) Internal revenue taxes.

    (b) Expenses of advertising and sale.

    (c) Expenses of cartage, storage and labor. When the proceeds are insufficient to pay such charges fully, they shall be paid pro rata.

    (d) Duties.

    (e) Any other charges due the United States in connection with the merchandise.

    (f) Any sum due to satisfy a lien for freight, charges, or contributions in general average, of       which due notice shall have been given in the manner prescribed by law.

    There are several additional details within section 127 that concern the seizure and sale of exceptional items like firearms, drugs, chemicals, agriculture, and alcohol, but, out of fact and commemoration of April 15th, it should be stated that failure to pay appropriate taxes or duties on such products is more often than not the reason for confiscation. 

    However, a container doesn’t necessarily need to be taken into custody for it to be classified as abandoned. As viewers of that earlier mentioned A&E program quickly learn, many shipments are legitimately forgotten or lost in transit, but thanks to affordable, cloud-based monitoring solutions, freight forwarders and importing firms now have the ability to oversee, assess, and address shipping conditions during container tracking, clearing, and collection processes. After all, no company wants to have its goods auctioned off on cable television.

    Next week we’ll look at some publicly epic importing disasters from the past year or so. It should be a post filled with improbability and absurdity. Don’t forget. 




    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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  • 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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  • Data Center Monitoring: Raised Temperatures, Riskier Management

    Data Center Temperature Monitoring: Raised Temperatures, Riskier Management

    In 2008, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) published new environmental guidelines for datacom equipment. They increased the high-end temperature from 77°F to 80.6°F.

    The guideline chart below shows the changes in more details:

    data center guideline chart

    According to the 2008 guideline, the recommended operating environments could not ensure optimum energy efficiency. There are varying degrees of energy efficiency within the recommended zone, depending on the outdoor temperature and the cooling system design. Thus, the guideline suggests, “it is incumbent upon each data center operator to review and determine, with appropriate engineering expertise, the ideal point for their system”.

    Patrick Thibodeau, reporter at computerworld.com, conducted an interview with Roger Schmidt, the IBM chief engineer for data center energy efficiency, about how the new temperature parameters will influence energy savings and data center cooling. When asked “how much heat can servers handle before they run into trouble”, Schmidt replied:

    “The previous guidelines for inlet conditions into server and storage racks was recommended at 68 degrees Fahrenheit to 77 Fahrenheit. This is where the IT industry feels that if you run at those conditions you will have reliable equipment for long periods of time. There is an allowable limit that is much bigger, from 59 degrees Fahrenheit to 89 degrees. That means that IT equipment will operate in that range, but if you run at the extremes of that range for long periods of time you may have some fails. We changed the recommended level -- the allowable levels remained the same -- to 64F to 81F. That means at the inlet of your server rack you can go to 81 degrees -- that's pretty warm. [The standard also sets recommendation on humidity levels as well.]”

    He also revealed that 81°F is a point where the power increase is minimal, because “raising it higher than that [the recommended limit] may end up diminishing returns for saving power at the whole data center level.” In fact, according to GSA, it can save about 4% to 5% in energy costs for each degree of increase in the server inlet temperature.

    Too much humidity will result in condensation, which leads to electrical shorts. According to GSA, “based on extensive reliability testing of Printed Circuit Board (PCB) laminate materials, it has been shown that conductive anodic filament (CAF) growth is strongly related to relative humidity. As humidity increases, time to failure rapidly decreases. Extended periods of relative humidity exceeding 60% can result in failures, especially given the reduced conductor to conductor spacing common in many designs today.” The upper moisture region is also important in protecting the disk and tape from corrosion. Excessive humidity forms monolayers of water on device surfaces, providing electrolyte for corrosion. On the other hand, too little humidity will leave the room electro-statistically charged.

    After the new standards were published, it would take time for the data centers to update their operating rooms. According to Schmidt, IBM started using the new guidelines internally since 2008, and some other data center probably would step it up two degrees at a time. To run near the new ASHRAE temperature limits means a higher risk environment for staff to manage and requires more operational expertise. According to 2013 Uptime Institute survey data, nearly half of all data centers reported that their systems ran at 71°F to 75°F. 37% of data center reported temperature from 65°F to 70°F, the next largest temperature segment. The trend to warmer data centers is better revealed by the fact that there were 7% data centers operating at 75°F or above, compared with 3% in the year before.

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    References:

    ASHRAE, “2008 ASHRAE Environmental Guidelines for Datacom Equipment” http://tc99.ashraetcs.org/documents/ASHRAE_Extended_Environmental_Envelope_Final_Aug_1_2008.pdf

    Patrick Thibodeau, “It's getting warmer in some data centers”, 07/15/2013. http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9240803/It_s_getting_warmer_in_some_data_centers

    Patrick Thibodeau , “Q&A: The man who helped raise server operating temperatures”, 07/06/2009. http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9135139/Q_A_The_man_who_helped_raise_server_operating_temperatures_



    Written by:

    Ivory Wu, Sharp Semantic Scribe

    Traveling from Beijing to Massachusetts, Ivory recently graduated with a BA from Wellesley College in Sociology and Economics. Scholastic Ivory has also studied at NYU Stern School of Business as well as MIT. She joins Temperature@lert as the Sharp Semantic Scribe, where she creates weekly blog posts and assists with marketing team projects. When Ivory is not working on her posts and her studies, she enjoys cooking and eating sweets, traveling and couch surfing (12 countries and counting), and fencing (She was the Women's Foil Champion in Beijing at 15!). For this active blogger, Ivory's favorite temperature is 72°F because it's the perfect temperature for outdoor jogging.

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  • Freight Forwarders: By Sea, Air, and Land

    Businesses looking to export or import goods have a multitude of logistics to consider and undertake. Having worked in the area of international supply chain management for an action-sports apparel and accessories company, I can say that monitoring such a vital and susceptible activity involves lengthy spreadsheets, numerous emails, and continual phone calls. Luckily, there is an entire industry dedicated to the movement of freight into and out of the United States: freight forwarding.

    Freight forwarders are the behind-the-curtain orchestrators of all things international trade. Export.gov provides a section dedicated to understanding the pivotal involvement of such firms, detailing their services as:

         • Advising on exporting costs including freight costs, port charges, consular fees, costs of special documentation, insurance costs and freight handling fees;

         • Preparing and filing required export documentation such as the bill of lading and routing appropriate documents to the seller, the buyer or a paying bank;

         • Advising on the most appropriate mode of cargo transport and making arrangements to pack and load the cargo;

         • Reserving the necessary cargo space on a vessel, aircraft, train, or truck.

         • Making arrangements with overseas customs brokers to ensure that the goods and documents comply with customs regulations.

    So, you may ask, who are these mysterious entities know as freight forwarders? Well, while they do perform their functions during all hours of the day in ports across the country and world, they don’t wear black pajamas to get things done. Rather, they are enormous multinational companies, some of which are household names, that excel at handling the logistics and balancing the dynamic variables of transporting cargo by sea, air, and land.

    In a 2013 article, Patrick Burnson listed the top twenty-five global freight forwarders by revenue and volume. While the top twelve are below, the remaining thirteen can be found here.

    Popular Shippers List

    Burnson’s piece also provided a glimpse into the impressive size of the freight forwarding industry overall. For instance, in 2012 sea shipments grew by 11.5% to $63.23 billion, and while air cargo dropped by 4.2% to $62.62 billion, the main reasons for the decline were overcapacity and rising costs like those of fuel. In short, air shipment revenue was a victim of too much demand and a fluctuation of those dynamic variables mentioned earlier.

    Of course, with the United States sharing borders with Canada and Mexico, exporting and importing by land, specifically by rail, has grown considerably since the start of the 21st century. A report by the Federal Railroad Administration stated that the value of goods transported by train from and to Mexico increased from $20.4 billion in 1999 to $64.5 billion in 2012. Over the same period, freight from Canada grew by 78% from $58 billion to $103 billion. While this method is dominated by large, heavy exports and imports like cars and coal, it is still a freight market that continues to expand, especially as the global economy strengthens.

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    Regardless of the mode of transport, freight forwarders must adjust their operations according to universal factors like capacity, rates, and transit times. Just because sea shipments rose and air cargo declined in 2012, doesn’t mean the trend will continue as competition among and within freight markets evolves alongside customer demand.

    In general, freight forwarding looks to grow by 6.8% before 2016. With this growth come the changing needs of companies relying on forwarders to move their goods in an expeditious and comprehensive manner. In another 2013 article, author Rob Knigge talked about the current concerns and developing demands of export and import customers and stated the following about using IT solutions to provide more clarity during transport:

    Supply chain visibility remains a top operational priority for large customers. Customers generally struggle to achieve a unified picture of their supply chains because of the legacy information systems designed to operate within a single company, not across a network of companies. Thus, the ability to share real-time information with key customers, suppliers and partners has become critical in the freight forwarding industry.

    Companies and their stakeholders need their supply chains monitored for harmful environmental conditions, as a prolonged negative situation could jeopardize the integrity of the assets being shipped. When not given the proper attention, irregular elements like humidity, temperature, and CO2 can destroy a shipment of imported products. Imagine how poorly a container of bananas would fare during an unexpected five-day, mid-July stint on the dock in Newark, New Jersey. Without any awareness or intervention, the value of those portable producers of potassium would evaporate in the cast iron cauldron heat of summer.

    Using this insight as both a closing place of thought and a point of transition for our next discussion on particular regulations pertaining to shipping and shipping containers, it’s important to note that the last piece of this series will address the issues raised here by offering a customizable, cloud-based IT solution that can be deployed by freight forwarders or their customers alike.




    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.

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  • Electrical Power Options for Wireless Temperature Monitoring Devices

    Understanding WTM device configuration options is a beginning.


    Unless one uses a thermometer to monitor temperature, electrical power is needed to power today’s temperature monitoring devices. And there are several choices for electrical power options as will be described below. One factor in determining what electrical power source is best for any particular site is the Wireless Temperature Monitoring system configuration, and there are several to consider each with its own costs and benefits.

    This seventh piece in our series series is prompted by an article on the Pharmacy Purchasing & Products website describing the use of Wireless Temperature Monitoring (WTM) systems to monitor medication temperatures in hospital refrigerators. (Link to PPP Article) The Pharmacy Purchasing and Products posting titled NYC Hospital Examines WTM (Wireless Temperature Monitoring) Options notes there are several factors to consider in understanding which device will work best to help protect the safety and efficacy of temperature sensitive medicines and products such as vaccines and blood.

    Although the supplier of the WTM system selected by NYC Hospital Queens was not identified, the author did provide some insight into the system design and configuration. “Initially, we opted to use wireless sensors with powered (120 volts) receivers. However, it quickly became clear that maintaining access to a power supply would be a challenge because most receivers are located above the ceiling where access to a 120 volt power supply is limited and requires the additional services and expense of an electrician. Our engineering department estimated that there would be a significant cost associated with transferring data from the sensor to the receiver. Thus, the powered receivers were swapped for receivers that worked with our Ethernet network, which resulted in significant cost savings.”

    In NYC Hospital Queens the issue of power became a significant consideration to help determine the types of devices installed. But what are the choices. Taking a step back, temperature monitoring systems can be designed in several ways. Here are some common wired and wireless examples.

         1. USB device (Wired) - plugs directly into computer or server USB port, powered by USB port

         2. LAN (Ethernet, Category 5, Cat 5, Cat 5e) device (Wired) - requires Ethernet cable to connect to the site’s IT network,        powered by AC or PoE (Power over Ethernet)

         3. WiFi Standalone device - wirelessly connected to the site’s existing WiFi network, AC or Battery powered

         4. LAN Gateway** device (AC or PoE) with wired or wireless* satellite sensors (AC or Battery)

         5. WiFi Gateway** device (AC or Battery) with wired or wireless* satellite sensors (AC or Battery)

         6. Proprietary Wireless Gateway** device (AC or Battery) with wired or wireless* satellite sensors (AC or Battery)

         7. GSM, CDMA, or LTE Cellular Standalone device (AC or Battery) with wired sensors

         8. GSM, CDMA, or LTE Cellular Gateway** device (AC or Battery) with wired or wireless satellite sensors (AC or Battery)

    *Wireless satellite sensors can employ WiFi, ZigBee, Bluetooth, RFID, Proprietary or other wireless communication technologies. The two previous pieces in this series discuss these options as they relate to monitoring hospital medical refrigerators.

    **Gateway describes the wireless sensor interface to the site IT network.

    Graphic showing possible components of WTM devices.

    Graphic showing possible components of WTM devices.

    Selection of the type of sensor, interface and data collection device will have a significant impact on the type of electrical power required to operate the system without continuous maintenance. Other configurations may exist but these configurations are representative of those found in today’s market.

    For example, below are four Temperature@lert temperature monitoring devices for consideration. From left to right, the Z-Point wireless sensor operates on AA Li-Ion batteries for up to five (5) years with five (5) minute monitoring intervals; the Cellular Edition normally operates on AC power (110/220 VAC) and has backup battery power for times when electrical power is interrupted’ The USB device is powered through the USB port of a computer or server, and the WiFi device requires 110/120 VAC electrical power or Power-Over-Ethernet through the device's LAN connector to operate.

    Temperature@lert Z-Point Wireless sensor, Cellular Edition Gateway, USB Edition, and WiFi Edition temperature monitoring devices.


    Left-to-Right: Temperature@lert Z-Point Wireless sensor, Cellular Edition Gateway, USB Edition, and WiFi Edition temperature monitoring devices.


    Facility operations, conditions and requirements will help determine whether or if AC or battery power meets the site’s specifications and needs. In the case of NYC Hospital Queens, AC power was not available for the sensor gateways but Ethernet (LAN) connections were available. Ethernet (LAN) connectors can be configured to deliver power to devices connected to them; the technology is called Power Over Ethernet (PoE), and this was a more cost-effective choice for the hospital's installation. What is the impact of the choice on operation of the WTM system. The next piece in this series will examine the pluses and minuses of different electrical power options and provide some insight into best practices.

    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.

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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.


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    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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