temperature@lert blog

  • Temperature is Critical for Safe, Effective Refrigerated Drug Storage

    Refrigerated medications need special care; guidelines and regulations help with direction.


    In the previous piece we looked at room temperature storage of pharmaceuticals. Many of us are familiar with the requirements of the prescriptions we have filled and take home. Similar information can be found on pharmacy websites. For example, the CVS website FAQs provides the following information for Lisinopril a common high blood pressure medication: Link to Source


    Where should I keep my medicine? (Non-Refrigerated Drugs)

    • Keep out of the reach of children.

    • Store at room temperature between 15°C and 30°C (59°F and 86°F). Protect from moisture. Keep container tightly closed. Throw away any unused medicine after the expiration date.


    Most households maintain these conditions, therefore drug effectiveness and safety are maintained. But what about refrigerated medications or those stored in a freezer in the pharmacy? These require a close look; particularly since regulators often review refrigerated and frozen drug storage conditions during audits.


    What types of drugs require refrigeration? Again, the CVS website is helpful here and provides a list of fifty common prescription medications that require refrigeration. The list includes commonly recognized generic and brand names such as insulin, Cipro and Enbrel. Most of those listed are solutions, suspensions, vials or capsules. Link to Source [See The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) 2008 Pharmacist’s List publication tited Stability of Refrigerated and Frozen Drugs Link to Source for storage conditions.for an extensive list of drugs.]


    While these drugs are for use at home, medical offices and pharmacies store medications to be administered on site such as vaccines. Fortunately the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) has published extensively on safe storage and handling of vaccines for their Vaccines For Children (VFC) program. The CDCs 2014 Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit (Link to Source) specifies storage temperature between 2°C and 8°C (35°F and 46°F). This range is also commonly used for medications other than vaccines which makes a pharmacist’s job easier.


    To ensure the vaccine’s efficacy is maintained, VFC providers must maintain a log of at least temperature readings each day using a certified thermometer. While many pharmacies and medical offices use manual reading and recording, many more are deploying temperature monitoring devices that record temperatures automatically and continuously, even when the store is closed and no personnel are present. Some US states require such devices; check local regulations to determine the requirements in your state. Generally a manual reading and logging is also required even where automatic monitors are deployed, most likely so that staff members will be aware of any out of range conditions since many automatic devices log the data but do not provide warnings or alarms when temperatures are out of range. (Look for more about this in our final piece.)


    Figure 1. CDC VFC 2014 Vaccine Storage & Handling Toolkit requirements for refrigerated and frozen vaccine storage temperatures apply to participants. CDC requirements are often adopted by state health agencies for all refrigerated medications.



    temperature vaccine log, CDC, VFC

    Figure 2. Temperature log for refrigerated medications highlighting CDC VFC limits. 

    [Download your copy]


    Pharmacies, hospitals and medical practices participating in the VFC program are required to take readings with a certified thermometer twice per day, in the morning and evening. Readings are manually recorded on temperature logs. These logs are sent monthly to the CDC for review and action when needed. Some states require automatic temperature monitoring equipment to insure that there are no gaps in temperature logs. Automatic temperature monitoring equipment can be configured to record temperatures every minute, or in any interval. Commonly intervals of 15 minutes are set for pharmaceutical monitoring. Data is sent to state health departments monthly.


    In some devices data logs are manually downloaded to a computer hard drive by USB weekly or monthly. Monitoring with such devices with intervals less than 15 minutes can fill up data storage capacity and exceed limits on many devices. WiFi temperature monitors may be able to be configured to automatically download data to a networked computer negating the need to manually download. WiFi and wireless temperature monitoring devices rely on the stability and reliability of the local IT network and electric power grid, and when these services are interrupted, not an uncommon experience, temperature readings can be lost.


    Figure 3 (left). Manual plot of twice daily thermometer readings. Figure 4 (right). Sensor Cloud plot of 60 minute interval cellular temperature monitor readings. Link to Source Note the elevated temperature event in the right image would have been missed in a twice-per-day manual plot.


    To minimize reliance on manual operation, IT networks and electrical power, leading pharmacies have begun to adopt cellular temperature monitors that communicate when IT networks and power supplies are interrupted. Data is sent via major cellular providers to reliable, redundant data centers, ensuring data integrity. Pharmacists can access data via a web browser and set password controlled temperature alert and alarm limits. Some devices provide email, text and voice message alert and alarm messages to insure harmful conditions do not go unnoticed, on Saturday at 2:00 AM for example. Such an approach represent the leading edge of fault-tolerant operation.


    Temperature@lert provides cost-effective, fault-tolerant wireless temperature monitoring solution for organizations of all sizes. Our products and services can help bring a pharmacy, clinic, 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 athttp://www.temperaturealert.com/ or call us at +1-866-524-3540.


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  • Are We Ready for Battery Powered Data Centers?

    What has changed in the 18 months since we looked at this idea? Lots!


    We have published several pieces in our occasional series concerning energy and data centers, particularly green or non-traditional power options. Topics range from using data centers to heat our homes and businesses to volcano powered data centers, or more properly, geothermal powered data centers. In our December 2013 piece titled Battery Powered Data Centers? We looked at the possibility of operating data centers using then state of the art battery technology. Link to Article The conclusion at that time was although projects were underway, cost and performance data were lacking, therefore proceed slowly.


    A demonstration project in Oregon installed a 5 MW array of 1,440 rack-mounted lithium-ion battery modules supplied by Indiana based EnerDel, a privately held company supplying energy storage, hybrid transportation and industrial systems. Link to EnerDel



    Figures 1, 2. EnerDel has expanded to the transportation industry as shown in the bus battery pack (Left Image) while Tesla has branched out into the non-transportation sectors with products like the Tesla Powerwall (Right Image).


    One company to watch mentioned in the piece was Tesla Motors. The article gave a quick, back of the envelope calculation that a 500 10kW rack data center would need to have 2000 Tesla Model S cars to operate the racks and the remaining data center electrical needs. Such an implementation would have made Tesla Motors very happy and the data center employees who took the Model Ss for a recharging run even happier, no one seems to have taken the leap.


    Recently Tesla introduced their Tesla Energy business. Link to Announcement Tesla has begun marketing “a suite of batteries for homes, businesses, and utilities fostering a clean energy ecosystem and helping wean the world off fossil fuels.” With this announcement Tesla has branded itself as an energy innovation company and its mission to enable zero emission power generation.


    The flagship product is Tesla’s Powerwall, a lithium-ion device available in 7kWh or 10kWh sizes. Of course the “zero emissions” claim is for the battery, not the recharging power generation. Tesla foresees the device being used three ways.


    1. Load Shifting - charging during low demand, lower electrical price periods and then powering a home during high demand, higher price periods, saving the homeowner the rate difference. Homeowners will need demand pricing capability for this to work.

    2. Increase Self-Consumption of Solar Generated Power - some homeowners can sell excess power back to the utility, many cannot or do so at rates below incoming power. Powerwall uses could conceivably store and use their own power and realize the full value. State regulations could promote or deter this, stay tuned.

    3. Backup Power - provide power for times when utility power is interrupted. Areas susceptible to ice storms would benefit. An additional feature would be safety versus gasoline powered generators where some individuals have been overcome when generators were operated in unventilated, indoor areas.


    As a Boston area homeowner, the backup power is very interesting since my utility connection is via overhead wires located underneath giant deciduous trees whose limbs are challenged by age and the elements. The utility spends the warmer months pruning back trees that get close to the wires from pole to pole, but the overhead canopy covers these wires and the cable to our home with tons of oak and ash, so the chance of losing power somewhere along the miles of tree lined streets is very high.



    Figures 2, 3. “Halloween 2011” nor’easter coated trees with wet snow, ice, taking down power lines across the northeast. Because the storm came before many trees had lost their leaves, the amount of snow sticking to the branches increased greatly leading to even healthy trees coming down onto utility lines.  Left Image  Right Image




    One only needs to recall the late October nor’easter that dumped 32 inches of snow on Massachusetts and left 3.4 million homes and businesses without power, in some cases for more than ten days. While daytime temperatures warmed to the low 50s, overnight temperatures were below freezing.


    But is Tesla ready for businesses like data centers? 

    Temperature@lert provides cost-effective, reliable, fault-tolerant wired and wireless temperature monitoring solution for organizations of all sizes. Our products and services can help bring peace of mind to small and mid-sized companies and their data centers with minimal training or effort. For information about Temperature@lert’s Cellular and SensorCloud offerings, visit our website at http://www.temperaturealert.com/ or call us at +1-866-524-3540.


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  • Survival Guide: Power Outages and Cafeteria Food Service

    Power outages in school cafeterias are without a doubt hectic. Without working stoves and ovens, the ability to feed students what they are expecting, and what was being expected to be made becomes a problem. There are solutions to these issues by utilizing both proactive and reactive methods. 

     

    Following the rules of the previous guide is important: toss what needs to be thrown away, and if there was food being cooked and it didn’t get completely cooked, get rid of it. It’s a hard task to do, but the safety of the students is more important than the budget. So, always remember to:

     

    - Pay attention to the time. Timing is EVERYTHING.


    - Cease all cooking and keep warm food out of refrigerators and freezers to avoid rapid temperature increases


    - After four hours, food must be discarded if falling between 41 and 140 degrees F in or out of the refrigerators


    - When in doubt, throw it out


    - Fruits and vegetables can be left out longer than meat

      

    If the power outage continues to last for more than a day and there are orders coming in that day from vendors, if at all possible, be sure to cancel or reschedule those orders. Bringing in more food that could be compromised during the outage will just cause more problems.

     

    If school is still being held in session during the power outage, there are other issues to take into consideration. These issues include feeding students and food preparation.


    cafeteria, food service

     

    The lunch rush is a stressful time of the day for cafeteria workers: making sure every student is fed is a vital aspect of the job and important to the school. Without power to make the food, this becomes a major problem.

     

    To avoid this, make use of the ingredients that don’t require cooking to make: use any cold cuts and vegetables to make sandwiches and make use of any fresh fruit or fruit cups on hand. This way, food that would be otherwise be sitting in the fridge and possibly having to be thrown away due to the length of the outage is being eaten.

     

    Sherman High School’s cafeteria team didn’t let a power outage get in the way of feeding their students and making use of the food they had on hand that would otherwise need to be tossed eventually. Only part of the school was affected by the power outage, but the cafeteria suffered without any power, so there were still mouths to feed without power to do so. For breakfast, they made use of the cereal, fruit, and milk that was on hand. For lunch, they were luckily able to grill hamburgers on a grill. This way, they were able to use meat that had the possibility of eventually having to be tossed from the lack of power.

      

    school, cafeteria, power outage

    Image 1 – Cafeteria workers of Sherman High School making use of their resources during a power outage

     

    Disaster is avoidable during power outages. Maintaining composure is the first step in keeping a safe environment during power outages. Having temperature monitoring keeps stress levels low and gives you insights about the food in the refrigerators and freezers; this allows you to make sure foods are not reaching temperature danger zones. Temperature@lert’s cellular temperature monitoring system will keep updates flowing via text message and phone calls before danger zones are even reached. These alerts give you the ability to take measures without having to guess how long until corrective measures need to be taken. This way, the main priority can be making sure that students are taken care of. 


    For more on power outages in regards to restaurants, be sure to check back for the third installment of the power outage survival guide series.

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  • Pharmacy Ambient Temperature and Medication Efficacy

    How do I know those pills I just bought that were sitting on the shelf are still good?


    In the previous, second piece of this series about temperature monitoring and best storage practices in retail pharmacies we looked at the shelf-life of food as it relates to ambient temperature inside the store. In general, shelf-stable food products including canned, bottled and packaged goods are designed to be stored below 85°F (30°C), ideally 70°F (21°C). But what about pharmaceuticals stored at ambient store temperatures, those bottles of pills, capsules, and tablets sitting there on the shelf?


    Figure 1. Shelves of pills, tablets, etc. in a modern pharmacy. Link to Image


    When pharmaceutical companies develop medications, they examine many factors such as effective dose, side effects, how it needs to be administered (orally, injection, transdermal etc.), effects of overdose, safety, and efficacy. A significant amount of time is spent understanding the effects of storage on the preparation. These studies will determine if the medication is stable at room temperature, needs refrigeration or needs to be frozen, as well as degradation during such storage. How this applies to pharmacies takes us on a journey.


    Fortunately room temperature pharmaceutical storage is subject to regulation in the U.S. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations in CFR 21 (CFR2111) defines stability testing for pharmaceutical manufacturers, and notes testing shall be used in determining appropriate storage conditions and expiration dates. (Section 211.166) In 21CFR205.50 the FDA guidelines for State Licensing of Wholesale Prescription Drug Distributors states that all facilities where prescription drugs are stored, warehoused, handled, marketed or displayed to be maintained properly. FDA wording follows in italic.


    (c) Storage. All prescription drugs shall be stored at appropriate temperatures and under appropriate conditions in accordance with requirements, if any, in the labeling of such drugs, or with requirements in the current edition of an official compendium, such as the United States Pharmacopeia/National Formulary (USP/NF).


    (1) If no storage requirements are established for a prescription drug, the drug may be held at "controlled" room temperature, as defined in an official compendium, to help ensure that its identity, strength, quality, and purity are not adversely affected.


    (2) Appropriate manual, electromechanical, or electronic temperature and humidity recording equipment, devices, and/or logs shall be utilized to document proper storage of prescription drugs.


    (3) The record keeping requirements in paragraph (f) of this section shall be followed for all stored drugs.


    Pharmacy regulations are issued by each state. In general they refer to or mirror the FDA guidelines which often refer to manufacturer’s guidelines. In Massachusetts for example, 247CMR9.00, section 901(5) states, While on duty, a pharmacist shall be responsible for proper preservation and security of all drugs in the pharmacy or pharmacy department, including the proper refrigeration and storage of said drugs. Massachusetts 247CMR9.00 for wholesale druggists, section 7.04(3) states,


    All prescription drugs shall be stored at appropriate temperatures and under appropriate conditions in accordance with requirements, if any, in the labeling of such drugs, or with requirements in the current edition of an official compendium such as the United States Pharmacopoeia/National Formulary (USP/NF).

    (b) If no storage requirements are established for a prescription drug, the drug may be held at "controlled"room temperature, as defined in an official compendium, to help ensure that its identity, strength, quality, and purity are not adversely affected. 

    (c) appropriate manual, electromechanical, or electronic temperature and humidity recording equipment, devices, and/or logs shall be utilized to document proper storage of prescription drugs.

    (d) The record-keeping requirements in 247 CMR 7.04(6) shall be followed for all stored drugs.

    What this boils down to is the manufacturer’s label defines the requirement. The good news is that manufacturers do publish storage conditions for drugs stored at room temperature which is defined by the U.S. Pharmacopeia as between 68-77°F (20-25°C). Take for example a common high blood pressure medication, lisinopril, also sold as Prinivil, Tensopril, Zestril, or Hipril. The image below (Figure 2) is from the information sheet included with Zestril, AstraZeneca’s version of lisinopril, and posted on the FDA’s site. The data sheet notes the recommended storage conditions for Zestril tablets: Store at controlled room temperature, 20-25ºC (68-77ºF)[see USP]. Protect from moisture, freezing and excessive heat. Dispense in a tight container. Note the reference to USP guidelines.


    More importantly, note the data sheet calls for a controlled room temperature. If I walk into a pharmacy that feels hot, I know the drugs stored there are likely to be degrading faster than expected. Fortunately many pharmacies keep limited quantities of any particular drug, so drugs that are in constant demand like lisinopril are not likely to be sufficiently degraded if exposed to elevated temperatures for short periods, Of greater concern are medications that have slow turnover. Pharmacies that regularly run hot can potentially compromise the efficacy of such drugs.


    Figure 2. AstraZeneca Zestril (lisinopril) storage conditions, from data sheet. Link to Form


    Pharmacy managers and pharmacists are responsible to keep the drugs under their management within recommended storage conditions. Automatic temperature and humidity monitoring systems can provide warnings and alarms when temperatures exceed or fall below the recommended range, providing pharmacy managers and pharmacists with the information needed to correct the issue when problems occur.


    Many have tasted wine that has been exposed to elevated temperatures for a period of time, vinegar comes to mind. Likewise, many have tasted bagged popcorn that has been exposed to elevated humidity for a long period of time. If I enter a store or pharmacy that is very warm and humid, I generally will not purchase items where the quality can be compromised. The same goes for prescription and OTC medications. Pharmacy managers, operators, and pharmacists are responsible to maintain an environment that keeps prescription medications within recommended temperatures. Pharmacies who let customer discomfort be the warning that things are too hot or humid are likely to see these customers disappear if the condition persists. Proactive programs to maintain ambient store temperature within manufacturer’s specification are good for patient outcomes and good for business.


    Temperature@lert provides cost-effective, fault-tolerant wireless temperature monitoring solution for organizations of all sizes. Our products and services can help bring a pharmacy, clinic, 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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  • Survival Guide: Food Service Power Outages

    When dealing with power outages within food service, whether it is at a restaurant or school cafeteria, it can be a stressful situation with many decisions of what to do with food, what is safe, and when to discard. Sometimes during an outage, it’s hard to figure out what to do and how to deal with these decisions and whether or not the right one is being made. There are different solutions depending on what kinds of foods are being dealt with, whether it’s refrigerated, frozen, or being prepared. To prepare for these solutions, there are simple steps to follow for the guarantee for safe measures to follow.

     

    food safety, FDA, food temperature

     

    The first step in dealing with power outages is to take note of when the outage happens, as timing is everything when it comes to food safety. Secondly, cease all cooking that is happening. It’s good to note that if a power outage is two hours or less, it is not considered hazardous to food being handled under safe conditions. After two hours, any food that is being prepared, whether it is meat or cut fruits and vegetables, must be discarded. Do not put warm food into the refrigerators or freezers to avoid rapid temperature increase within the refrigerators. If warm foods are warming the area, it will only decrease the time before having to throw foods away. Whole foods such as uncut fruits or vegetables can be quickly put back into the refrigerator if needed and are still safe for consumption.

     

    Once again, timing is everything. When dealing with refrigeration, there’s up to four hours of safe time that food will be kept cold during an outage if the refrigerator is not opened or opened minimally. After four hours, food must be discarded, or dry/block ice can be used to maintain the cool temperature for up to two days. If there’s no ability to get ice to keep the refrigeration cool, uncut fruits, vegetables, and processed cheeses do not have to be thrown away after the four hours pass, while foods such as meats, dairies, and opened jars should be tossed.


    food safety audit

    Figure 1: Keeping track of what’s in the fridges and freezers during a power outage to ensure safety measures for different foods are being taken.

     

    With freezers, they can keep temperatures for up to 48 hours if minimally opened, and if it’s fully stocked. For half full freezers, they can last up for 24 hours, and it’s important to group food together to keep them colder for longer. If this happens, ensure to keep the food on its own trays, so if they begin to thaw the juices won’t touch the other foods. There are certain guidelines from the FDA for foods that can be refrozen if partially thawed.

     

    food safety, FDA food safety guidelines, FDA refrigerator, FDA freezer

    Figure 2: FDA standards for refreezing or discarding of food depending on thawing status

     

    It’s important to follow these refrigeration and freezer FDA guidelines while dealing with power outages in order to keep a high standard of food quality and safety. If there is ever uncertainty in whether or not a food is still safe, it’s better safe than sorry, so when in doubt, throw it out. If the food being prepared hasn’t reached the safe consumption temperature, throw it away. There is no way around having to throw half cooked food away during a power outage. Foods in the process of being cooked, especially cut, half cooked vegetables and meats are prone to bacteria and can quickly become harmful.

     

    There are, of course, certain foods that can be kept safely at room temperature. Foods such as butters, hard cheeses, dried and fresh fruits, herbs, spices, breads and pastries can all be kept at room temperature without harm coming to them, although depending on what it is, the quality can decrease. Don’t worry if these foods are left out during the outage.

     

    food 

    Upon restoration of power, it’s important to identify any hazardous foods that still need to be discarded, and check internal temperatures of potentially dangerous foods. If anything falls between being above 41°F or below 140°F, and has been for longer than 4 hours, it must be tossed. If it becomes worrisome that food in the refrigerator needs to be cooled at a faster rate, transfer it to the freezer for faster cooling.

     

    Using a cellular temperature monitoring can help prevent any surprises or temperature rises during an outage. With Temperature@lert’s cellular-based temperature monitoring, if there is a power outage, a text message will be sent to notify you of the outage. If temperatures begin rising at an alarming pace, a phone call alert is sent. With these alerts, it gives you the ability to begin corrective actions and prevent losses.

     

    Maintaining a safe environment is easy during a power outage. Following protocols from HACCP and the FDA ensure that there will be no issues upon the power returning. Throw away what needs to be tossed, and keep the fridge and freezer doors shut as much as possible. For tips on how to deal with school power outages, retail store power outages, and restaurant power outages; be sure to check for the next parts of the power outage survival guide series. 

     

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  • Battery Powered Data Centers Redux - Part 2

    Batteries may be ready for home applications, but are they ready for the big time: Data Centers?


    In the first part of this two part look at battery powered data centers we found that Tesla recently entered the battery electrical storage market for home applications such as emergency backup and metered energy cost savings. Companies like EnerDel that have active data center projects have been supplying industrial as well as transportation power options while Tesla up to recently has concentrated on the automobile market.


    Along with the Powerwall option for households Tesla is also making a play for commercial and business applications. Tesla’s announcement provides examples of commercial customers, one being Target. Select stores are conducting pilot studies incorporating Tesla Energy Storage batteries. “David Hughes, senior group manager, Energy Management, Target. “Tesla’s cutting-edge technology offers unique benefits to powering these stores, most importantly relieving stress from the electrical grid at peak times furthering Target’s investment in designing and operating energy-efficient and sustainable buildings.” (Link to Announcement) Here again, managing peak load demand is the goal and savings for large electrical energy users like Target can be substantial.



    Figure 1 (Left) shows an artist’s concept of an array of Tesla’s Powerpack Battery System on the roof of a retailer such as Target. Link to Image  Figure 2 (Right) shows the home market Powerwall (left) and the commercial Powerpack (right) for comparison. Link to Image


    Each Tesla Powerpack module is rated for 100 kWh. These batteries act like very efficient generators and can supplement the grid when needed as well as take advantage of storing power when rates are the lowest, overnight for example. The Return on Investment (RoI) for the Powerpack would be a function of the difference between peak and off-peak rates in any given location. Alternately, linking the battery array to a solar array would result in “free” electricity for storage, but the cost of the solar array would need to be added to the total RoI. In such cases, the DC output of the solar array could be used directly to charge the batteries, negating the cost of an inverter for the solar piece. Only the battery to AC inverter would be needed.


    Still, since companies like Target offer large opportunities for power suppliers, their cost both for grid power as well as battery and solar will likely be significantly lower than smaller enterprises. Someone surely has done the math, but there is no update of the test installation by Portland General Electric’s 5 MW EnerDel battery demonstration project in South Salem, OR. Because this is a public project there may be some economics forthcoming, but a search has turned up empty for this two-year old, $178-million project. (Link to Project Website http://www.pnwsmartgrid.org/)


    So what about data centers? Amazon Web Services may shed some light here. According to The Verge, “Amazon is using (Tesla) Powerpacks as part of a 4.8 mWh pilot program in Northern California to assist in running its Amazon Web Services platform. That’s 480 - 100 kWh Powerpacks. James Hamilton, an AWS engineer, said the technology would make it easier for the company to rely on renewable energy sources. Batteries, he said, would "bridge the gap between intermittent production, from sources like wind, and the data center's constant power demands." Amazon has been working with Tesla for the last year, viewing Musk's new Powerpacks as a way to reach its ultimate goal of "reducing the technical barriers limiting widespread adoption of renewables in the grid."


    One thought is lithium-ion battery technology is not without limitations. Looking at the artist’s concept drawing (Figure 1) what comes to mind for this New Englander is what that roof would have looked like this past winter when Boston had a record snowfall. Such installations would need to have additional support for the significant battery weight; add to that the weight of 9-feet of snow and there could be real concerns. The second is that lithium-ion batteries don’t like hot and cold weather. The graphs below demonstrate the issue of installations in cold and hot climates.



    Figure 3 (Left) Li-ion discharge times fall off dramatically at colder temperatures. Link to Source

    Figure 4 (Right) Li-ion battery capacity decreases markedly with increasing temperature, as is witnessed by Tesla car owners in Phoenix.  Link to Image



    Two thoughts come to mind here. First, data centers use large battery arrays as UPSs to bridge the time until the generators kick in. Enabling these UPS arrays to provide additional benefit such as renewable energy storage and smart metering savings can have real benefit to data centers with the right economics. In a power market like Northern California where the grid is stretched to the limit during hot summer days, such an approach could bridge the gap of a brownout voltage cut, reducing any electrical strain on data center electronics. Again, cost vs benefit is needed, but for high risk locations these calculations may look more like life insurance than not.



    Figures 5, 6. Amazon data centers in Virginia (Left) and Oregon (Right) may be candidates for battery storage.  Left Image Source   Right Image Source


    While there is hope for some light to be shed publicly on the Portland demonstration project, AWS and its competitors keep their costs and benefits close, so meaningful analysis will be difficult. According to Forbes, the Powerpack cost is $250/kWh which is below the $350/kWh calculated by a Texas power supplier as break even compared to the cost of a new power generator. (Link to Source) For the Amazon project that translates to $1.2 million in cost for the Powerpacks, plus installation and supporting hardware. Future announcements may help data center managers and owners make a meaningful estimate for RoI. Tesla is reportedly sold out on all products, a good sign that this technology offers real benefit. Stay tuned for updates as this story continues.


    Temperature@lert provides cost-effective, reliable, fault-tolerant wired and wireless temperature monitoring solution for organizations of all sizes. Our products and services can help bring peace of mind to small and mid-sized companies and their data centers with minimal training or effort. For information about Temperature@lert’s Cellular and SensorCloud offerings, visit our website at http://www.temperaturealert.com/ or call us at +1-866-524-3540.



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  • Starting with the Basics in Pharmacy Temperature Monitoring

    From the time they walk in the door, consumers and regulators are taking (mental) notes.


    I walked into my pharmacy the other day to pick up a prescription. This is a national chain I’ve been with for the past decade and has served me well through several moves. I like the store, location and staff, most of which are very helpful and pleasant. However, if the store was dirty, too hot or cold, or disorganized I would consider taking my business elsewhere. Let’s face it, most of us who live in urban or suburban areas have a wealth of pharmacies from which we can choose. To make sure I’m happy my store of choice sends me an email survey link to make sure I’m satisfied with this store, the staff and their products. And I do fill the survey out; the staff deserves the accolades they have earned.


    Figure 1. Modern pharmacies combine traditional prescription and OTC medication sales with convenience plus small department store items to become a full service outlet. (Link to Image)


    One thing that would keep me away from any store is if it’s too hot. Food, beverage and convenience stores that are too hot are accelerating the degradation of the food and beverage products they sell. More importantly, pharmacies that are too hot and humid are degrading their room temperature medications and lead me to question whether or not their refrigerators and freezers are too warm. These products have clear specifications from the manufacturer for storage conditions, and high temperatures are a no-no.


    Let’s start with the easy stuff, food stored at room temperature. Food products that do not require refrigeration are called “shelf-stable” foods by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Products include canned and bottled products as well as packaged products such as rice, pasta, flour, sugar, candy treats, baked goods, chips, and the like.

    Canned, packaged or bottled food degraded or spoiled will exhibit poor or bad taste, smell or appearance.


    For canned goods, the USDA notes, “High temperatures (over 100°F or 38°C) are harmful to canned goods too. The risk of spoilage jumps sharply as storage temperatures rise.”  Link to Source These products should be stored in a cool, dry place with temperatures below 85°F (30°C). Canned and bottled food and drinks are not required by U.S. law to have date labels, however many do. Be sure to check if the date is “use-by” or “sell-by” to understand its usefulness. Packaged products, those in boxes, bags, etc. suffer even more with increased temperatures since most package materials are porous to oxygen which can degrade contents.



    Canned and bottled foods may have a date stamp that can be helpful to insure product quality and safety. This information is based on a defined storage temperature, 70°F (21°C) for example. Links: Left Image  Center Image Right Image


    To insure food products stored at room temperature are not exposed to elevated temperatures, pharmacies can monitor store HVAC operation with automatic temperature monitors. This can accomplish two things. First, early warning of HVAC problems, air conditioner failure during hot summer days for example, will alert management of problems before they become serious, especially overnight when no one is in the store. Second, management will have a record of store temperature that can be reviewed for HVAC system operation optimization. Stores that run hot and can accelerate food breakdown or spoilage can make adjustments. More importantly, the HVAC controls can be adjusted to help optimize store temperature, potentially saving energy (money) where stores are too cold in summer or too hot in winter months. Most importantly, the customer will not be the one to point out when the store is too cold or hot, making them more likely to return to a well run operation. Customer loyalty is preserved.


    Consumers and store personnel may want to take a look at two resources regarding shelf-life of food products. Besides sell-by or best-used-by dates, these guides from two universities with strong agricultural programs provide useful information both while shopping and at home.

    University of Nebraska - Lincoln: https://food.unl.edu/safety/chart

    Ohio State University Extension: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5401.pdf


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

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  • Spiders Rain From The Sky? Sorry, No.

    We can do most anything, but we can’t do that. (With apologies to Meatloaf)


    The news caught my eye earlier this week as headlines blared about spiders raining down from the sky in Goulburn NSW, Australia, about 200 km southwest from Sidney. My first thought of course is can Temperature@lert help with that? The short answer is no, we can’t do that. But we can do a lot of other things.


    Temperature@lert has a Cellular Edition customer that travels around the US in their motorhome with three macaws, following the NHRA drag racing circuit and monitoring their motorhome’s temperature while away to keep an eye on their pet’s safety. We can keep you from cooking your own goose, but we can’t keep spiders from raining down on you.



    We can keep this macaw family member safe during his travels in the family’s RV, but we can’t keep spiders from raining down and covering your trees, grass and house.


    We monitor the temperature of animal transport trailers for a big cat rescue organization to help keep the occupants safe by alerting the driver when the air conditioner kicks off. But we can’t keep spiders from raining down from the sky, even with lions and tigers and bears at our beck and call. (Okay, not bears, I made that part up.)


    Crime labs depend on us to protect their evidence with our ZPoint wireless sensor, ensuring that evidence is not compromised and results are scientifically sound and criminals are kept off the streets. But protecting folks when millions of tiny spiders take flight during their annual migration and rain down on their property? No, we can’t do that.


     


    Our customers monitor forensic evidence in crime labs but we can’t help with millions of tiny spiders raining down on your yard.


    We monitor concrete temperature as it sets during tunnel construction to insure the finished tunnel’s structure meets specifications and does not fail before its rated life. Yes, even though we keep the earth from collapsing a tunnel, we do not have a solution when spiders parachute by the thousands from the sky. We still can’t do that.



    We monitor concrete while it's curing to make sure tunnels, bridges and buildings are safe, but we can’t keep your yard spider free when the little creatures decide to take flight.


    Why all the worry about spiders raining down from the sky? Recently Australia experienced such an episode when millions of young spiders migrate by “ballooning”, casting webs into the air that act like a parachute and lift them airborne. It turns out that this phenomenon is not new or unique, it happens regularly around the world. And if you think you’re safe in the US you are mistaken. Texas was the last state to report such an outbreak.


    Spider rain happens when tiny newborn spiders decide to take flight to find a new home. This happens all the time but when they all decide to do so at once, the effect is dramatic. The little critters stand on the tips of their tiny legs and shoot a thread into the air. If the wind is strong enough the thread acts like a parasail and takes the spider airborne, delivering it to it’s new home. All I can say is I’m glad tarantulas don’t exhibit this behavior.



    A search for “spider ballooning” on YouTube can lead to several interesting videos describing the phenomenon of “spider rain”.


    In the mean time, one last image of Australia’s spider rain for those who want another thing to worry about. And if you find that spider rain is becoming a global nuisance, just drop us a line and maybe we’ll see if we can do something about it. In the meanwhile, you may be well served to carry an umbrella in Australia, rain or shine.



    Link to Image Source and Spider Rain Article

    Temperature@lert provides cost-effective, fault-tolerant wireless temperature monitoring solution for individuals and organizations of all sizes. For information about our 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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  • Increasing Efficiency: Data Centers [best practices infographic]

    Energy consumption and conservation is a big topic for any business, especially if you're running a data center. Besides creating copious amounts of heat from your server racks, you also have to worry about downtime. Did you know that 23% of all data centers experienced downtime more than 5x as a result of environmental problems while 61% experienced downtime one or more times? It's also actually estimated that downtime can cost businesses $50 to $100 million in downtime related costs. 

    In order to battle these issues in data centers, it's important to have your data center running as efficiently as possible. Efficiency can boost lifespan of servers as well as help prevent environmental issues. Check out our infographic on the 5 Best Practices for Increasing Efficiency in Data Centers:

    DATA CENTER EFFICIENCY BEST PRACTICES INFOGRAPHIC THUMBNAIL

    click to enlarge

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  • Keeping Up with the 7 Principles of HACCP

    The 7 principles of HACCP are a series of guidelines that follow the rules and regulations set forth by the U.S. FDA. These are typically associated with the implementation of HACCP programs. The main priority of these guides in food service organization is the safety and protocol to keep food, employees, and customers safe in retail and food service. 


    Each of the 7 principles is laid out for easy understanding. While performing a hazard analysis, defining critical control points, defining critical limits, establishing monitoring procedures, following corrective action procedures, having verification procedures, and having a record keeping system, a safe food service organization is ensured.


    (1) Performing the Hazard Analysis:

    When following the protocols, it’s important to examine the personal risks involved. Breaking down what kinds of risks are involved helps form an understanding of what needs to be done. Which of the rules of hazard and safety apply to you? Which apply to what is being cooked? Which parts of cooking, holding, and storage for food preparation need to be examined? An understanding of this not only keeps the employee safe, but those who they work with and the customers in which the food will eventually get to.


    (2) Defining the Critical Control Points (CCPs):

    Making a specific list of the essential control points in which need to be followed is important to the safety of the space of employment. Having a set list ensures that areas that need certain practices have been followed and are being implemented.

    HACCP, food, food service, food safety


    (3) Defining Critical Limits


    Once CCPs are set in action, putting critical limits into regulation is a must. This includes implementing temperature parameters and keeping them monitored, paying attention to the needs for different temperatures, food types, and food preparation. Referring back to these set limits ensures that if there are any problems or abnormalities, they can easily be solved.


    (4) Establishing Monitoring Procedures for CCPs


    Different monitoring procedures, such as monitor scheduling, manual spot checks for equipment, and keying in on environmental factors keeps critical limits in check and ensures safety in the workspace. For this, consideration of automated monitoring devices is recommended for more reliable results and ability to take humans out of the equation. Using products such as Temperature@lert’s patented cellular gateway and ZPoint wireless sensor give the ability to monitor temperature levels and proper operations to avoid any issues. 

    HACCP, food, food service, food safety



    (5) Corrective Action Procedures


    Sometimes when referring back to the critical limits, not all expectations are met. It’s important if this is to happen to establish the proper corrective actions in order to solve the problem. Starting at the root of the issue, make a clear and concise list of logical steps that need to be taken, along with creating a plan for the future to avoid the issue. Making sure all employees in the line of communication in regards to the changes made to avoid any mistakes ensures safety protocols are being followed. When Temperature@lert’s devices detect that a threshold has been breached it will, send emails, phone calls, and text messages. Once you are alerted to the temperature change, you will need to take corrective action and take note of what actions are taken to correct the incident.


    (6) Verification Procedures


    Having a routine of different daily activities, including employee habits and equipment observation are monitored ensures that protocols are being followed. Put these observations into comparison to the standards in which the FDA expects, and make adjustments if the HACCP plan isn’t being followed as needed.


    (7) Record Keeping Systems

    HACCP, food, food service, food safety

    Having information and documentation on file is important for future safety. Knowing past errors, changes, and corrections that have been taken can make it easier to keep track of along with being more efficient for inspections and internal audits of HACCP plans.


    Keeping these principles in mind and following them not only ensures safety of employees, but safety of customers who are consuming the food that is being kept safe by following the principles. A guide to easily follow these steps can be viewed below. 

    7 HACCP Principles - thumbnail - click to enlarge

    click to enlarge


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