Many of today’s food and beverage processors want to protect their products and comply with regulations by monitoring and alarming the temperature in freezer rooms and cold storage areas. Wireless continual monitoring devices (aka temperature recorders) are an effective way to remotely receive alarm messages. However, freezer rooms and cold storage areas present several hurdles to maintaining WiFi access points (APs).To this end, temperature recorder users can take precautions to protect the performance of APs and maintain reliable WLAN access.
Issues with WiFi access points in cold storage include:
AP hardware operating at low temperatures (at or near freezing) is vulnerable to cold and condensation, generally leading to a shorter life expectancy and failures.
The internal electronics can quickly rust due to moisture and frost.
Any exposed AP equipment is vulnerable to clean-in-place (CIP) procedures.
AP radio frequency effectiveness is suppressed by storage room walls.
It’s costly to install wiring, which is definitely not a short-term solution.
For these reasons, it’s difficult to ensure dependable access to WiFi inside freezer rooms.
Enclosures protect AP hardware
To protect AP hardware in cold storage areas, first check the operating temperature, which is often model-dependent. For example, some hardware can withstand temperatures below 0°F, while others cannot. Stick with the same model if you can for network compatibility.
Once you know the temperature range your equipment can withstand, you can decide how best to maintain or protect it. AnIP- or NEMA-rated enclosure can insulate AP hardware and other equipment from the cold and moisture. This can also keep the hardware safe against CIP procedures. Place a temperature datalogger within the enclosure to compare internal temperature with the AP’s safe operating range. Look at the temperature data over the course of the day—you may find that a simple enclosure is all you need to maintain the proper temperature. However, if the datalogger shows that the temperature is too low, you can install an internal heater or localized ones to make for a safe deployment in a sub-zero environment. If adequate RF coverage is still a problem, you can add an antenna to the enclosure to boost the range.
Wireless data transmission
WiFi temperature dataloggers are ideal when:
You need to measure temperature at a number of distributed points.
It is difficult or expensive to run wires from the measurement points back to a central location.
The measurement points are on a moving object that prevents the use of wired sensors.
Data needs to be collected and transmitted from a vehicle while it is in motion.
Data and/or alarms need to be collected from a site that is difficult to access or does not offer regular internet connectivity.
WiFi temperature dataloggers
For temperature monitoring of perishable food and beverage products, wireless dataloggers are available with several different types of inputs depending on the required temperature range and accuracy. Wireless devices are very effective for temperature monitoring in refrigerators and freezers as well as cold storage areas. Many of the key features of any wireless system include factors such as wireless range, update rate and cost based on the wireless technology employed. If you need to measure temperature at more than one point, multi-channel dataloggers are applicable. You can also opt for dataloggers measuring ambient temperature.
Many models operate “stand-alone” on battery power and use either internal temperature sensors or external sensor types such as thermocouples, thermistors or RTDs. It’s common today for loggers to automatically upload their data over the WiFi network to a PC, while many models can also send data to a cloud storage service, so users can receive alarms and access the data online from their mobile device or PC.
Given adequate protection of wireless AP hardware, WiFi temperature recorders are very effective for monitoring food and beverage products in freezer rooms and cold storage areas. This is a viable option for immediate alarm notification for food in warehouses, restaurants and other foodservice facilities. If the temperature data needs to be validated for regulatory requirements, CFR-compliant software provides transparency and guarantees data protection. Either way, your business will benefit from an added layer of product protection and regulatory compliance.