temperature@lert blog

  • Have You Looked Behind Your Walk-In Refrigerator Lately?

    Commercial refrigerators and freezers are very reliable, but need love and caring too.

    You’re the proud owner of a restaurant, sandwich shop, pub, pizza parlor, you name it. Everything is running great. Then one day you find your walk-in refrigerator or freezer is not working. Maybe the power is out, maybe it became unplugged or tripped a breaker or fuse, or maybe something has malfunctioned and all of the food, beverages, etc. inside are warm and need to be thrown out. Beside the cost of the lost food, etc., there’s also the cost of the lost business as you scramble to replace the spoiled items and get running again, at least a day’s proceeds. And such events always happen at the worst times: Saturday or Sunday when crowds are expected for the big game or that special event or just to relax from a hard week.

    Those new to the business may not have experienced such occurrences. Those who have been around a while may have. Power outages occur, especially during bad weather. Breakers trip and plugs become dislodged. Doors are inadvertently left open. Fortunately many businesses have automatic temperature monitoring alarms for such occasions and except for power outages they are generally easily fixed: Reset the breaker, put the plug back in the outlet, or close the door. And because the alarm was sent before things got bad, nothing is lost.

    Figure 1: Wireless Z-Point temperature monitor inside walk-in refrigerator provides customers with email, phone and text alerts when things get too hot or cold. (Temperature@lert Photo)

    Like a power outage, a refrigerator malfunction is not so easily recoverable. If there is a temperature monitoring alarm device there may be time to save the contents. The malfunction may be due to failure of a minor part or loss of a major system, the compressor for example. For such events many restaurant owners need to call a professional. The challenge is to get one to make a call quickly before food becomes spoiled or inedible.

    The interesting thing is there are things to do to prevent or at least minimize refrigerator failures. Routine Preventative Maintenance is one. A commercial refrigeration maintenance company compared two Chicago area customers with a similar number of units, one with and one without scheduled maintenance and found an interesting result: Emergency and Non Emergency Service Calls and Compressor Failures were doubled for the customer without quarterly scheduled maintenance calls compared to one with quarterly scheduled maintenance calls over the course of one year (7/1/2012 to 6/30/2013).


    Total No. of Coolers & Freezers

    Scheduled Maintenance

    Non Emergency Service Calls

    Overtime Service Calls

    Compressor Failures

    Bar #1


    Every 3 Months




    Bar #2






    Table 1: Data from two similar customers from 7/1/2012 to 6/30/2013, one with and one without quarterly preventive maintenance service calls demonstrating a doubling in emergency and non emergency service calls as well as compressor failures when no scheduled maintenance is performed. ( Link to Source)

    Whether or not Bar #1 or Bar #2 paid more for the total service during this period is not disclosed, but one can imagine compressor failures and overtime calls cannot be cheap. My bet is Bar #1 did have a lower total cost especially since the cost of electricity when running poorly maintained compressors is higher.

    In this series we will explore the importance of regular scheduled maintenance for commercial walk-in refrigerators and freezers. Do it yourself as well as professional maintenance will be discussed and checklists provided to assist those new to the business as well as the long timers.

    Temperature@lert provides cost-effective, fault-tolerant wireless temperature monitoring solution for organizations of all sizes. Our products and services can help bring a food processor, distributor, wholesale or retail outlet into compliance with minimal training or effort. For information about Temperature@lert’s Cellular and Sensor Cloud offerings, visit our website at http://www.temperaturealert.com/ or call us at +1-866-524-3540.

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  • ALERT [Free White Paper]: Best Practices for Vaccine Temperature Sensor Placement

    With the US Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Vaccine for Children (VFC) temperature monitoring requirements making their way into many pharmaceutical regulatory body requirements, many pharmacies and medical practices are contemplating purchasing automatic temperature monitoring devices such as data loggers and devices that provides real time data logging and alert messages or alarms when temperatures exceed specified ranges. And these devices can automatically generate digital temperature logs, graphs and reports compliant with regulatory requirements, replacing manual logs in some cases.

    So what happens if you don’t follow best practices? Sometimes not much, other times confusing data, and still other times potential problems. Take the case of a before and after installation. Initially a glycol vial buffered digital sensor was placed on the top shelf of a refrigerator near the cold air outlet (below). Temperature readings from Sensor Cloud show an average between 35°F and 36°F with lows approaching 30°F and highs near 42°F. The CDC’s VFC guidelines call for a range of 35°F to 46°F (2°C to 8°C). This installation is below the CDC minimum approximately 40% of the time. If the temperatures were any colder freezing of the vaccine is very likely.

    To continue reading the white paper, please download here:


    Best Practices for Temperature Sensor Placement in Vaccine Refrigerators & Freezers [Free White Paper]

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  • 2015 Temperature Sensors Forecast

    The sensor market is expected to grow to $6.05 Billion by 2020. With the demand of temperature sensors growing, it is important for the customer and manufacturer to choose their sensors wisely. From applications in the medical and healthcare sector to aerospace and defense, there is a rising need for more accurate temperature monitoring; thus creating an increased need to use proper sensors for industry specific applications.

    View the following guide to get a greater insight into the temperature sensor industry in 2015 and beyond:

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  • ALERT [FREE E-BOOK]: From Farm to Fork

    From Farm to Fork [e-Book]: The Complete Guide to Monitoring for Food Safety

    Worldwide, refrigerated foods are one of the fastest growing segments for food service and food distribution companies every year. Temperature fluctuations at all stages of the cold chain, from production to transport, cost the food service industry hundreds of thousands of dollars in spoiled or compromised products. From profit loss to food-borne illness to spoilage, the people who work in the growth and production stages of the food industry understand very well the consequences that can come from not adhering to proper temperature standards.


    Refrigeration plays a vital part in maintaining the health and safety of perishable food items like dairy, meat, poultry, seafood, and produce; if ideal temperatures aren't maintained throughout the cold chain, then the potential for bacterial growth and spoilage increase exponentially. In fact, according to the FDA, the Federal government estimates that there are roughly 48 million cases of food borne illness outbreaks annually. That's 1 in 6 Americans every year! Sure, it's true that not all food borne illnesses are a result of poor refrigeration practices, but they certainly don't help. Actually, according to the FDA, the number of bacteria that cause food borne sickness in consumers can double every 20 minutes on food stored at room temperature! Each year these illnesses cause an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

    These statistics are just a sample of helpful and interesting facts that this e-book is jam packed with. So whether you're the manager of a hot new restaurant, a harvester of leafy greens, or an employee at a chicken processing plant, our book is full of facts that can help you more clearly understand the importance of keeping food at safe temperatures at every stage of the cold chain.

    Download the e-book here: 


    Download our e-book: From Farm to Fork

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  • The Answer My Friend is Blowin in the Wind - Part 2

    Is wind power ready for data centers?

    Like photovoltaics, wind power is essentially solar power.  Winds are generated through the heating and cooling of the earth.  The day night cycle has a lot to do with winds, heating makes the air less dense (low pressure) and cooling more dense (high pressure).  The pressure difference causes air to move from high to low pressure areas generating the wind.  So if there is little no difference, the winds are light, such as at sunrise and sunset which is why hot air balloons schedule their flights at these times.

    Wind can be predictable such as in Buzzard’s Bay (Massachusetts) and Nantucket Sound, ocean areas adjoining Cape Cod, MA, or unpredictable as in those lazy hazy days of summer.  And wind power can be controversial  which is why many Nantucket and Cape Cod residents are working to block the Cape Wind Project due to the fact the wind turbines will be visible from their beachfront homes.  Data Centers using wind generators would likely face similar challenges of intermittent winds and NIMBY neighbors.  But the real question is do the economics make sense for data centers?

    Certainly intermittent power will mean the data center will need an alternative power source or a connection to the local grid.  From a New York Times piece about a New Jersey data center (Link to Source), continuous electrical power use is between 25 MW to 32 MW, enough to power 15,000 US homes.  The load could be supplied by 13, 2.5 MW GE 2.5-100 generators with a continuous wind speed of 12 m/s (27 mph or 42 kph), which is quite unrealistic in New Jersey. Link to Souce  For reference, the Cape Wind Project puts the Nantucket Sound site at an average of 19.5 mph, well below the 27 mph needed but much higher than New Jersey.  With 19.5 mph winds the NJ data center would require 20 wind turbines with a straight extrapolation.  However, the output of GE’s 2.5-100 is reduced at the lower wind speed to no more than 2.0 MW, meaning the 32 MW demand would require 16 wind turbines at a steady 19.5 mph, again an unlikely scenario in New Jersey.

    One report http://www.electricitylocal.com/states/new-jersey/ puts New Jersey’s average commerical rate at $0.1278/kWh, industrial at $0.1053/kWh.  Assuming data centers negotiate among the lowest rates in the state, let’s assume a rate of $0.10/kWh. Assume a 30 MW power need, in one hour a data center would use 30MWh x $0.10/kWh x 1000 kW/MW or $3,000.00 per hour of electricity.  If we could get away with the minimum 16, 2.5MW wind turbines at a cost of $2.5 million each, the total cost would be $40 million.  At $3,000 per hour, the breakeven period would be 80 weeks. Not bad, total power self sufficiency in a little more a year and a half.  Of course the output from 16, 2.5 MW wind turbines will not be enough since there is not enough wind in Newark, for example to meet a steady demand of 19.5 mph.  But there may be in another location that has steadier, stronger winds, say rural New York, Pennsylvania or Iowa.  Then all we need is a really long extension cord called the grid.

    Of course this cursory look at economics ignores costs such as site preparation, installation, operation and maintenance, so even a 19 month payback may not be attractive.  And if a data center operator had to directly link a wind turbine array, a wind farm in today’s lexicon, to their data center the cost would be extremely prohibitive.  But what about the idea of joining forces with an existing or planned wind farm that is linked to the grid and purchasing grid power at wind farm rates. This is in fact what is going on for some.  Wind farms have become big business in rural agricultural states where locating a wind farm along with cash crops can supplement a farmer’s income, help pay for his/her power needs and help the enterprise to become profitable in poor growing years.  And rural midwest wind farms are enjoying new respect with major data center players.  

    Recently Google entered into a 20-year power purchase agreement with NextEra Energy in Illinois to supply 114 MW of electrical power to its Council Bluffs, Iowa data center complex.  In an entry into the wind power business, Google is not connected to the wind farm directly but instead the “power goes into the local grid. So Google Energy will sell the power on the regional spot market, where utilities and electricity retailers go to buy power when demand spikes and they have a shortfall. Google will use the revenue from spot market sales to buy renewable energy certificates (RECs) which will offset its greenhouse gas emissions.  Many companies buy RECs in an attempt to be carbon neutral, obtaining them from third-party brokers. But by purchasing RECs directly tied to the renewable energy it is also buying, Google is getting a bigger bang for its buck.”  Link to Source

    Map of Iowa Wind farms (Left: Link to Source) and average wind speeds for the state (Right:

    Link to Source) show how rural agricultural areas with strong, steady winds can become green electrical power regions.

    Google hopes such agreements will lead to producers building new projects, increasing renewable energy for other applications.  And because Google is now an energy seller the company can better protect itself from future price spikes.  Google’s subsidiary Google Energy was launched to help the company explore renewable energy sources for future needs and reduce their carbon emissions, a possibly intangible benefit but one that can go a long way in the market place.

    With 114 MW of power from NextEra Energy’s Story County, IL wind farm (Left Image), Google’s $1.5 billion, 1,000 acre Council Bluffs, Iowa data center (Right Image) utilizes green, renewable energy. Link to Source

    Not every data center player has the resources to experiment with renewable energy at the scale of Google. And not every energy company wants to be in the wind farm business.  Even Google lets those with the expertise and capital do that part.  But every data center has the ability to purchase renewable energy.  If other data centers can find partners like Google’s the market for renewable energy would increase investment and lower costs for wind farm operators.  This would translate to lower renewable energy prices with the bragging rights that come from reduced carbon footprint.

    For data centers that only care about lowest price per kWh, renewable energy may not fit the bill, the RoI may be too long particularly when compared to fossil fuel sources.  Certainly pure play data centers operating on low margins may find the cost extremely prohibitive.  But as more companies using hosted sites specify low carbon footprint energy, wind power may fit the bill.  At least it’s worth a serious look.  And the NIMBY crowd notwithstanding, I love to see modern wind turbines spinning in the wind’ reminds me of multi-masted tall ships sailing on the ocean. But that’s me.

    temperature, temperature monitoring, ebook

    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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  • Vaccine Transportation: Maintaining a Successful Cold Chain Without Reliable Electricity [Part 2]

    Keeping vaccines refrigerated when they’re delivered to the most remote parts of the world is a critical challenge that many experts have been trying to solve for decades. Dr. Harvey Rubin is one of the experts who have crafted new alternatives to address the issue.

    Energize the Chain

    Dr. Rubin is the Director of the Institute of Strategic Thread Analysis and Response at the University of Pennsylvania. Motivated by the millions of children who die from vaccine-preventable diseases every year, he and his colleagues developed an idea that materialized into a non-profit. Energize the chain has revolutionized cold chain logistics in Zimbabwe (http://www.energizethechain.org/our-team/).

    On September 27, 2014, Dr. Rubin was a speaker at an independently organized TED event (watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6STcFfKFVU). During his presentation, he pointed out that there are more cellphones in the world than toothbrushes; and the industry grows exponentially, specially in the developing world. Phones work with electricity from cell towers, and Dr. Rubin explained how excessive amounts of electrical power produced from cell towers is always available, even in the most remote areas of the world.

    Energize the Chain, 2014, 2015, cell towers, cell power, refrigeration, cold chain, innovation, nonprofit, world population, developing countries, developing world, Zimbabwe, Africa, vaccine, storage

    Screenshot taken from the organization’s website homepage. Source (http://www.energizethechain.org/#)

    Dr. Rubin believed if the private (mobile phone industry) and the public sector (health ministries) established partnerships, the power from cell towers could be used to sustain vaccine refrigerators. The refrigerators could be co-located in the cell towers. Back then he realized that it was doable; the technology worked and it was available. He established his refrigeration project in Zimbabwe and so far the non-profit has installed over 110 refrigeration sites in Zimbabwe and is expanding to other countries, like India. In one year Energize the Chain vaccinated over a quarter of a million children using refrigerators run by cell power. Dr. Rubin estimates that by 2016, the nonprofit will manage to vaccinate approximately one million children.

    Energize the Chain, 2014, 2015, cell towers, cell power, refrigerator, cold chain, innovation, nonprofit, developing countries, developing world, Zimbabwe, Africa, vaccine, colocation, vaccine shelter, storage

    One of Energize the Chain’s vaccine shelters in Zimbabwe where refrigerators have been co-located in cell towers. (Source: http://www.energizethechain.org/zimbabwe/)

    Temperature monitoring technologies

    The function of the cold chain is to keep vaccines properly refrigerated throughout their journey. With difficult climates, unreliable access to electricity and poor transportation infrastructures, temperature monitoring becomes critical to ensure the success or failure of any given cold chain.

    Monitoring temperature has evolved from the process of vaccine vial monitoring (VVM) to the most recent monitoring technologies. Vaccine vial monitoring was developed in the 1980s and consisted of a sticker that changed colors when the vaccines had been exposed to temperatures out of their recommended range. Still today, VVMs are widely used in developing countries and most of their immunization programs. According to estimates from the PATH (http://sites.path.org/vpsse/cold-chain-innovations/temp-monitor/) “between 2002 and 2012, VVMs allowed health workers to recognize and replace more than 860 million doses of inactive vaccine and to deliver 1.45 billion more doses in remote settingshelping to save more than 150,000 lives and reduce morbidity for countless others.”

    The following graphics show how VVMs look like and how to read them correctly:

    Vaccine vial monitoring, VVM, monitoring, temperature, vaccine, sticker, exposure, temperature range

    (Source: http://path.org/media/slideshow-vaccine-technologies/index.php)

    Vaccine vial monitoring, VVM, monitoring, temperature, vaccine, sticker, exposure, temperature range, reading, understanding

    (Source: https://extranet.who.int/aim_elearning/en/vaccines/hepb/implement/management/10.html)

    Some of the most relevant innovations for monitoring temperature include:

    Sending alerts to mobile phones

    Monitoring devices nowadays allow users to select a specific temperature range; and the devices are programmed to send out alerts (whether it’s a phone call, a text message or even an email) to one or many people who are in charge of supervising temperature-sensitive vaccines. Temperature@lert’s Cellular Edition provides monitoring every 5, 15, or 60 minutes and sends out multiple and continuous alerts if the temperatures fall out of range. Continuous temperature reading makes it easier and more reliable to determine when and for how long vaccines have been exposed to unadvised temperatures. To learn more about the Cellular Edition visit http://www.temperaturealert.com/Wireless-Temperature-Store/ZPointCellular.aspx or call us at +1-866-524-3540.

    Monitoring, alerts, temperature, sensor, wireless, real-time, Temperature@lert, Cellular Edition, Z Point, power outages, email, phone call, text message, storage, transportation, Sensor Cloud

    Temperature@lert’s Cellular Edition. (Source: http://www.temperaturealert.com/Wireless-Temperature-Store/Temperature-Alert-WiFi-Sensor.aspx)

    Continuous monitoring without electrical power:

    In places where power outages are very common, it becomes very difficult to figure out whether the integrity of the vaccines has been compromised or not, specially if the monitoring device stops working at the same time the refrigerator does. Temperature@lert’s Cellular Edition keeps recording temperatures and sending alerts when the temperatures fall out of range for up to 24 hours after a power outage; however devices with expandable batteries are also available upon request. To learn more contact us at +1-866-524-3540 or visit: http://www.temperaturealert.com/Wireless-Temperature-Store/ZPointCellular.aspx

    The key takeaway of this series is learning how cold chain logistics play a key role in determining the effectiveness of vaccination efforts. Knowing that the inequality in terms of access and use of electricity faced by many developing countries should be addressed; and more comprehensive, practical, low-cost, and accessible solutions should be sought to deal with the challenges they face.

    Lorena Sifontes, Content Marketing Intern

    Lorena is a senior international student at Endicott College, pursuing a degree on Integrated Marketing Communications with a minor in Psychology. Born in Venezuela and raised in Panama, she has helped companies manage their social media accounts and marketing. Currently, she’s a content marketing intern at Temperature@lert, and her ideal temperature is 75°F for walking and hiking outdoors.

    Lorena Sifontes

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  • The Answer My Friend is Blowin’ in the Wind - Part 1

    Is wind power ready for data centers?

    Damn that fracking natural gas! With natural gas prices at levels last seen a decade ago thanks to fracking shale deposits, electrical utilities are building small natural gas fired generating plants to help with peak loads.  This is also good news for consumers who use natural gas for heating and cooking, and for a reduction in greenhouse gas and air pollution (Sulfur Dioxide, Mercury) emissions since natural gas produces significantly less than coal or oil.  However, because the cost of generating electricity has been reduced or stabilized, green generated electricity has to compete with a lower market price, making alternative and renewable energy return on investment (ROI) longer and projects less likely to be funded in the highly competitive, cost sensitive data centers.

    US EIA graphs showing projected increases in shale gas production and increased use by electricity generators from 1990 to 2035.  Increased supply and resulting low prices of shale generated natural gas coupled with relatively low emissions compared to coal or oil means higher consumption by electrical generators for the next two decades.

    The longer ROI has not deferred leading companies like Google and Apple from using solar, geothermal generated electricity, or fuel cells to supply their flagship data centers. Many data centers contract for green sourced electricity from the local grid to reduce their carbon footprint, but the actual electrons going through their servers is likely to be produced by coal or natural gas fired generating plants.  Earlier pieces in this series looked at these and other energy sources such as cogeneration, batteries and microturbines for data centers.  It is now time to examine wind as a useful or not so useful source for data center power.

    Wind energy has been around a long time, from propelling boats across the sea to the famous windmills we see in Holland.  Modern adaptations of these technologies have led to modern, computer generated airfoils designs to generate electricity and power sailboats.

    Dutch windmills take advantage of abundant winds in The Netherlands to mill grains. Fitted with sails, these structures could turn the wind’s energy into rotary motion to power millstones during the grinding operation. Left Image Source  Right Image Source

    Windfarm on the coast of The Netherlands (Left Image Source) can generate enough power for 10,000 households.  Interior (Right Image Source) shows mechanical and electrical components, most importantly the generator. Computer control of turbine blades for various wind conditions is crucial to safe and efficient operation.

    Wind turbines employ airfoil designs in their blades along with modern materials to make them lightweight and strong.  Thousands are in use built by major companies such as GE and Siemens as well as a host of others.  Design, manufacture, installation, operation and maintenance are all well understood.  Standing 80 meters (262 ft.) tall and fitted with 50 meter (164 ft.) rotor blades, these machines are made to pump out between 1.5 MW and 4.5 MW in a 45 km/hr (30 mph) wind and cost around $1 Million/MW (€0.8 Million/MW).  These generators are able to power 2,500 US homes when the wind is blowing, and as parents wanting to take their kids kite flying know, a steady wind is the issue.

    Part 2 of the promise of wind power will look at economics for data centers.

    temperature, temperature monitoring, ebook

    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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  • USB 101 Part 4: Champagne Fault Tolerance at Beer Price

    Sensor Cloud lets you know when site network or power outages stop communication.

    Most readers will remember the Great Northeast Blackout of 2003 when New York City and a huge swath of the US and Canada lost power.  It was a Thursday, August 14th when “a seemingly routine procedure enacted by the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator set into motion a chain of events that would affect 55 million people in the Northeastern United States and Canada.” Link to Source  By the time the cascade of failures ended 55 million people in Northeast US and Canada lost power.  The error caused the failure of 508 generating units in 265 power plants.  Millions of people were stranded in NYC where traffic controls, subway and train service was shut down.  The spread stopped a little after 4:00 PM and was restored to areas beginning late that evening.  It wasn’t until Saturday morning that most people had power but several customers had to wait several days for electricity to be restored.

    Satellite image composite showing 2003 blackout area in Northeast US and Canada

    I was not affected by the 2003 outage but I do remember the first significant US blackout on Tuesday, November 9th that affected almost all New England states, New York and New Jersey as well as the province of Ontario in Canada.  Over 30 million people were without power for up to 13 hours was again caused by human error when a transmission line protective relay was set too low, tripped and caused overloads on trunk lines that were still operating, taking them down. (Link to Source) Urban legend that the blackout caused a surge in the birthrate in the affected area was debunked in 1970 when a statistical study by a demographer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill showed it to be untrue. Anecdotes continue to promote the idea and likely will for the next few decades as those who remember have passed into memory.

    What does this have to do with a USB temperature monitoring and alerting device?  Everything.  Hopefully we won’t see a swarm of widespread outages but discrete outages occur daily if not hourly.  I recently had an unexplained outage at home that took out Verizon’s FIOS circuitry and was without internet or cable for two days. (Horrors!) And business power failures always happen at the most inopportune times.

    IT Professionals managing Small and MidSized Business (SMB) server, telecommunication and computer rooms have their hands full, and a small budget.  Unlike commercial cloud data centers with their 24/7 staff monitoring and responding to the smallest problem with an army of maintenance and technical staff, they are often the only one or one of the few tasked with keeping things running.  Even if the building has a security alarm system, most SMB’s do not monitor network or electrical power status.  And those who do will often not be monitoring environmental conditions.

    In the event of an air conditioning failure, a runaway server acting like it’s trying to heat the building, or a UPS backed server room that continues to operate when building power is interrupted, the former closet or storage room repurposed as a computer room can heat up fast, threatening, the electronics and data on these systems and business continuity.  Fortunately the latest server technology is able to withstand higher temperatures than previous versions of the technology.  Unfortunately these SMBs often have older, hotter running and often overstressed server, telecom and related IT equipment possibly mixed in with a few newer pieces.  Hopefully the elevated temperatures will trigger an automatic shutdown before equipment or data is damaged.  If not, there is a limited window before problems can occur.

    Traditional USB temperature monitoring devices relying on the company network cannot send alert or alarm messages when the network is down.  For such critical applications many customers choose Temperature@lert’s Cellular Edition that features battery back-up operation and cellular communication that make allow it to operate during site power outages.  For SMBs such capability would be very helpful, however both the price of the device as well as the monthly plan can be daunting for some companies.  So what is the option when budgets are so limited but the need exists for a fault tolerant device.

    Cellular Edition with Sensor Cloud enables fault tolerant phone call alert messages when IT equipment is endangered by elevated temperatures, Link to Left Image  Link to Right Image

    Temperature@lert’s Sensor Cloud Business Plan for USB Edition meets the need.  For less than $90 per year the USB Edition can be Sensor Cloud enabled.  This plan provides the user with a 10 minute monitoring and reporting interval to Temperature@lert’s secure, reliable Sensor Cloud service.  More importantly, Sensor Cloud can be set up to provide not only email and SMS text alerts but also voice phone call alerts.  After all, when was the last time an email or text message came in at 2:00 AM and you heard it?  The fault tolerant aspect of this powerful tool is the Missed Report (a.k.a Asset Protection) feature.  Because the Sensor Cloud server collects all data and provides a secure, user password protected web portal for access, the server can be set to let the user know when the device has not reported in when expected.  For example, if the device reports in every 10 minutes, if a report is sent at 10:20 PM on a Saturday evening, the next data is expected at 10:30 PM.  If the data is not received, the user can have their Sensor Cloud account send a Missed Report message letting the assigned IT contact know something is wrong.  If a second report is missed, another message can be sent.  By this time you have your pants and shoes on and are out the door.

    Not every SMB needs or wants such a feature.  However, it’s a low cost option that can be added at any time, so if the need arises, fault tolerant Sensor Cloud is available.  When evaluating the options for simple temperature monitoring devices, Temperature@lert’s USB Edition offers an easy to use, cost-effective, complete device.  Adding Sensor Cloud enables fault tolerant operation and escalation plan implementation.  Backed by a decade of reliable operation for thousands of customers the USB Edition makes perfect sense.

    temperature, temperature monitoring, ebook

    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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  • Vaccine Transportation: Maintaining a Successful Cold Chain Without Reliable Electricity [Part 1]

    What innovations have been developed to support cold chain logistics without relying on electrical access.

    After reviewing some of the consequences caused by inadequate handling and fluctuations in vaccines’ temperature in the previous article, we will now explore the new practices and innovations that have been developed to overcome different challenges, related to the transportation, monitoring, and storing of heat sensitive vaccines where the access to electricity is limited.

    Part I of this article will focus on solar-direct refrigeration technology and passive-cooled cold boxes; Part II will review the Energize the Chain project and new monitoring technologies.

    In some regions of the developing world, having access to refrigeration equipment and electricity can be seen as a luxury. Energy poverty is a great problem affecting 3 billion people around the world who lack access to adequate electricity (almost half of the world’s population). Millions of children die every year from diseases that could have been easily prevented with vaccines that already exist, but remote rural areas might not have access to the technology and electricity required to keep those vaccines at controlled temperatures.

    So therefore even when the supply of vaccines is readily available, and they get to rural villages in developing countries, the real challenge lies in keeping them from becoming inactive once they get there.  

    Coming next is a review of some of the most relevant technologies and innovations that so far have been developed to address the obstacle of developing countries without reliable access to electrical power. These technologies aim to maintain vaccines refrigerated within their temperature range without relying on electricity.

    Solar-direct refrigeration technology

    This technology evolved from electric refrigerators used in areas with insufficient power supply; electric refrigerators (a.k.a. absorption refrigerators) burn kerosene or liquid petroleum gas to keep a steady temperature range. Electric refrigerators have been around since the 80’s but have proven to be inefficient because of interruptions due to poor planning, fuel shortages, limited ice-making capacity, poor temperature control, and theft among other reasons. Despite their limitations in providing appropriate storage for vaccines, absorption refrigerators are still used in over 60% of vaccine storage locations.  

    The solar refrigerators that came soon after were first generation refrigerators that contained an industrial battery for storing solar energy, and even though some solar refrigeration projects have been successful for years, many suffered from battery system failures. If a battery replacement was not anticipated or there was no funding available, the entire system failed.

    The second generation of solar refrigerators counts with battery-free solar direct-drive technology and doesn’t require any external batteries or backup generators; they use cool storage (an “ice battery”) that’s inside the refrigerator and is able to maintain acceptable temperatures for many days even at night or during cloudy and rainy weather. The WHO has pre-qualified six different solar direct-drive refrigerators since 2010. 

    Passive-cooled cold boxes

    The most challenging part of cold chain operations, in terms of keeping temperatures steady, is probably what has been described as the “last mile”; which refers to the last stage of the delivery to its final destination. In countries like the U.S. the “last mile” usually involves trucks or vans and specific regulations, however, in developing countries the delivery of the last mile could be easily done by a person who rides a camel from town to town.

    For over four decades, developing countries have heavily relied on containers/boxes with frozen water packs used for the “last mile” transportation of vaccines. According to the World Health Organization, these boxes can be carried by humans walking, bicycles, or motorbikes.

    Regular cold boxes require ice packs or cold-water packs to keep vaccines cool; but if the temperature of the ice packs isn’t stable (0°C), there’s a great risk that vaccines will freeze; this has become a serious issue. The vaccines for tetanus toxoid, hepatitis B, pneumococcal conjugate, cholera, rotavirus, and human papillomavirus are among some of the most relevant freeze-sensitive vaccines.

    New technologies have emerged with new designs for cold boxes. One of the most successful models of passive coolers for long-term vaccine storage without electricity has been the Nano-Q™. These boxes provide up to seven days of refrigeration at outside temperatures of 32°C before the ice needs to be replaced; it uses regular ice that’s available for purchase nearby from health centers and provides easy monitoring. These passive-cooled cold boxes were part of a program in Vietnam, which yield great results: no freezing temperatures were recorded over more than 65 months of cumulative data. “Users appreciated having vaccine storage that was independent from the electrical grind, as electrical cuts are common”.

    Other models and designs of passive-cooled cold boxes have been designed, but their cold life varies between three to up to five days; the Nano-Q™ can keep vaccines refrigerated for the longest.

    The second part of this article will look into other innovations and technologies being used to ensure the efficiency of cold chain logistics without reliable access to electricity.

    When many outside factors, including efficient access to electricity, contributing to the struggle of maintaining the cold chain, the monitoring at every link of the process becomes critical and fundamental to achieving the desired results from using the vaccines. For more on monitoring temperatures even during power outages check out Temperature@lert’s Cellular Edition here http://www.temperaturealert.com/Wireless-Temperature-Store/ZPointCellular.aspx or call us at +1-866-524-3540.

    Lorena Sifontes, Content Marketing Intern

    Lorena is a senior international student at Endicott College, pursuing a degree on Integrated Marketing Communications with a minor in Psychology. Born in Venezuela and raised in Panama, she has helped companies manage their social media accounts and marketing. Currently, she’s a content marketing intern at Temperature@lert, and her ideal temperature is 75°F for walking and hiking outdoors.

    Lorena Sifontes

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  • Points To Monitor In Your Hotel: Wrap-Up

    Hawaii, hotel, hotels in Hawaii

    Whether your hotel is located on a remote tropical island, in the middle of a busy, bustling city, or nestled in the mountains, as a manager or owner, you've always got a full plate and a seemingly never ending list of chores, repairs and upkeep that need to get done in order to make sure that your guests are comfortable and carefree. On any given day, you've got a good percentage of your hundreds of rooms filled, crowded dinning rooms in your multiple restaurants at breakfast, lunch and dinner, a poolside packed with swimmers and sunbathers, leisurely lawn strollers traversing the grounds and fitness lovers pumping iron in the gym. It's an exhausting list to read, let alone manage, and perhaps, only a superhero with the ability to be in more one place at the same time would be able to take care of all the problems that can arise daily in a hotel without any help.

    As the person in charge, you know that there's so much more that goes into the running of a successful hotel than the promise of clean sheets, free WiFi and continental breakfasts for guests. You've got to constantly be thinking about staff management, energy costs, grounds upkeep and guest relations and safety, is surely a modest list of things that are running through your mind on a daily basis. So it's not hard to imagine the instantaneous headache you'd get if your hotel's power went out or the refrigeration system of your biggest kitchen failed or your hot tub wouldn't heat.


    Unfortunately, unforeseen disasters are something that people face in almost every industry, and not surprisingly, that includes the hospitality industry. The unprepared owner or manager will most likely spend more time reacting to problems, like the warm refrigerator or the cold hot tub, and troubleshooting complications that could have been easily avoided with the implementation of precautionary actions and aversion strategies. Critical maintenance and upkeep strategies should be no-brainer, standard practices for you and your staff, not back-up plans.

    At this point in the series, you've probably come to realize how many of your hotel's amenities and attractions are dependent on the maintenance of ideal temperatures to function seamlessly and smoothly. But on top of everything else that you're dealing with, our guess is that monitoring the temperature of specific points in your hotel, hourly, is probably the last thing you have time for, and the task can seem daunting, if not impossible. And let's be honest. Hiring someone to manually monitor critical points at the hotel around the clock is an equally unrealistic, not to mention, a costly solution. But don't throw your hands in the air in defeat just yet. You're a smart manager and you'll be damned if there's not an equally smart solution out there for you and the critical points that need monitoring at your hotel.

    Fortunately for you and your efforts to keep your hotel up and running and your guests happy, you don't have to look that far for a temperature monitoring solution that's affordable, easy-to-use and reliable. Imagine being able to save all the perishables in your kitchen's failed refrigerator because you received an alert before the food spoiled. You'd be saving yourself hundreds of dollars in product that would otherwise have to be tossed. Or think about being able to call in a spa repairman to fix the problem with your pool before you have to answer to all the angry guests who booked a room at your hotel because they wanted to spend a relaxing weekend poolside. The trouble, money, resources and  headache you could save yourself with automatic, remote and continuous monitoring systems are well worth the investment.


    At Temperature@lert we have a wide range of product offerings, such as WiFi, Cellular and ZPoint that are linked to the company's Sensor Cloud platform to provide you with a cost-effective solutions for your hotel, with minimum effort, whether it's a sprawling resort or a cozy inn. The Temperature@lert products and services can help to bring you peace of mind and you can rest a little easier knowing that you'll be alerted before a problem arises, not after. You want to be able to avert costly and avoidable disasters, not spend time cleaning them up. For more information about Temperature@lert's products and Sensor Cloud offerings, visit our website at http://www.temperaturealert.com/ or call us at 1-866-524-3540.

    temperature monitoring guide

    Written By:

    Kate Hofberg, Epicurean Essayist

    Temperature@lert’s resident foodie from sunny Santa Barbara, Kate Hofberg, creates weekly blog posts, manages the content database, and assists with the marketing team's projects. Balancing a love for both the west and east coast, Hofberg studied at University of California Santa Barbara, where she received a Bachelors in Communications, and Boston University, where she is currently a Masters candidate in Journalism. Before coming to Temperature@lert, Hofberg trained in her foodie ways through consumption of extremely spicy, authentic Mexican food with her three brothers and managing a popular Santa Barbara beachside restaurant. Through her training and love of great food, she brings fresh methods of cooking up content. When Hofberg is not working on Temperature@lert marketing endeavors, she serves as a weekly opinion columnist for the Boston University independent student-run newspaper, The Daily Free Press. If time permits, Hofberg enjoys long walks, reading, playing with her cat, and eating pizza. Her ideal temperature is 115°F because she loves temperatures as hot and spicy as her food.

    Kate Hofberg

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