April 4, 2022
All You Need to Know About Commercial Freezer Temperature Monitoring Alarms With WiFi
The pharmaceutical industry loses $35 billion every year due to temperature-control failures. Losses include damaged products, invalidated clinical trial data, and the costs of root-cause analysis.
Many of these losses are avoidable with an effective temperature monitoring system. Temperature monitoring systems track interior temperature, humidity, and pressure levels within cooled storage. The best systems utilize alarms, which empower staff to intervene when temperatures are unstable—before any product is destroyed.
In this guide, learn how commercial freezer temperature monitoring alarms work. Then, discover what sets alarms apart, and how to choose the right options for you.
What is a Commercial Freezer Temperature Alarm?
A commercial freezer temperature alarm is a component of a comprehensive monitoring system. Temperature monitoring systems use precisely calibrated instruments to continually take internal temperatures. Systems then use temperature data to alert teams if stored fluids are at risk of warming and to make records that managers can analyze for patterns over time.
Temperature Monitoring, Recording
The temperature monitoring and recording elements of a system take in the information that can trigger alarms. The information’s accuracy and precision depend on how the system takes temperature.
Different types of probes, securement mechanisms, and placements can affect outcomes. Thermal buffers can also grant greater accuracy when you need to know the temperature of a refrigerated fluid.
Temperature Monitoring System Software
Temperature monitoring systems use software to record and store temperature data. Most systems use one of four data storage options:
- Internal memory
- Base station or gateway
- Local PC
- Data storage cloud
Each option takes a different approach to data storage and organization. Your security needs, and how easy retrieval must be, may drive your choice in software.
The software can also transmit temperature data in real-time. This is useful for monitoring cold storage remotely. Remote temperature monitoring is critical for drugs and supplies distributed through the cold chain.
Alarm Settings Through Software
The temperature monitoring system’s software also controls the alarm settings. The system’s software lets you adjust threshold settings, which trigger an alarm before the temperature goes out of range.
You can also set up event alarms, which signal adverse events like a door left open or a power outage. Many systems also let users set:
- Temperature sampling frequency
- Set location point
- Direct alarm message recipients
Different systems offer different setting options. Some of the options are limited by data storage. For example, wireless networks may use WiFi or Bluetooth RFID signals to transmit data (or some combination).
The World Health Organization recommends that sensors within wireless networks incorporate some built-in data storage capacity. This enables buffering, which can mitigate risks from power outages. It also enables the sensors to simultaneously function as loggers.
Sensors with this capacity can elevate the alarm’s accuracy—even during an emergency.
Most monitoring systems offer multiple alarm options.
One benefit of WiFi-based systems is their compatibility with other WiFi-using devices. Many systems incorporate apps team members can download on phones, tablets, and laptops. These apps enable alarms that staff can keep on their person, which makes them harder to miss.
In addition to apps, these systems often include wired and wireless devices that sensors can trigger. Typically, these alarms fall into four categories.
The visible alarm may be on the face of the device itself. If there’s a temperature display mounted on the freezer door, for example, it typically has a visible alarm.
Visible freezer alarms can also be blinking lights set some distance away from the fridge. These are generally LED lights.
Finally, an app associated with the system may incorporate a visible alarm. This can be a notification or something more compelling.
An audible alarm is an urgent sound. It may be akin to a fire alarm or siren. Audible alarms may be mounted in the lab or come through an app.
Most audible alarms have a manual reset switch. Staff can flip the switch once they’ve addressed the problem. Other systems have an automatic reset function.
Email and Text Alerts
When a temperature monitoring system uses WiFi, it may have internet messaging functionality. This is useful when it comes to alerts.
Users can set systems to automatically text or email remote workers when temperatures are rising. Texts and emails can give more specific information than a simple alarm. These instructions can trigger different actions for different situations.
Certain temperature monitoring systems can automatically designate numbers in an emergency. These systems can play an automated message detailing the nature of the emergency.
This is useful in situations where a phone call will likely be given more attention than a text message or email. Teams can designate different numbers for different types of emergencies. Or, numbers can differ depending on location and time of day.
The software that comes with your system will act as a console. This is how you establish your commercial freezer temperature alarm settings.
The console may be part of the display on the device mounted on the refrigerator door. Or, it may be in an application.
Users typically set alarms for three situations. First, they’ll set an alert threshold that indicates rising temperatures, before it’s an emergency. At this temperature fluctuation, the monitoring system triggers a warning alarm.
Then, they’ll set the actual temperature parameters. This is a high-and-low temperature range. If the internal temperature exceeds the range, an emergency alarm sounds.
Lastly, staff can set wifi freezer alarms for adverse events. These alarms inform teams when a high-risk event occurs. Events may include:
- Door left open
- Power outage
- Rapid temperature drop
Any of these events can pose a serious threat to the safety of stored fluids.
Freezer Temperature Monitoring Alarms: Use Cases
All cold stored goods ought to stay cold. But, three types of organizations benefit the most from precise refrigerator temperature monitoring systems. These are:
- Blood banks
Each of these groups benefits from precise temperature monitoring because they use delicate fluid goods. Other commercial refrigeration facilities, like cold warehouses, also use these systems.
Laboratory Temperature Monitoring
Accurate laboratory temperature monitoring is critical. Medical labs must comply with CDC mandates. Often, they must also adhere to FDA regulations.
For example, Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine must be stored at -70°C to stay effective. This contrasts with Moderna’s vaccine, which labs must store at -20°C. A lab that manages both vaccines can modify the temperature monitoring system’s set point, then establish different thresholds for the different medications.
Accurate temperature monitoring is also critical for running experiments. Experiments must be replicated to be valid. But if the recorded temperature is not accurate—or if the temperature is not stable throughout an experiment—the data isn’t useful.
Accurate temperature records ensure that nobody has to throw out any data or start over.
Blood and Fluid Storage, Transport (Blood Banks)
Blood banks receive and store donations of bodily fluids for transfusions. The CDC regulates storage temperatures for different fluids to prevent bacterial growth and contamination. Keeping blood viable, yet preventing pathogen growth, is key for any facility that works with blood platelets.
Effective alarm thresholds can warn blood bank technicians when blood is at-risk for contamination. Teams can take action to check for contamination, prevent bacterial growth proactively, or dispose of blood that goes bad.
This is just as critical during cold transport. If the power to the fridge is cut, or a freezer overheats inside a cargo truck, drivers must know to take action. Thus, remote monitoring systems, which can alert drivers focused on the road, are an important cold transport tool.
Pharmacy Temperature Monitoring
The FDA has approved over 20,000 unique pharmaceutical drugs to market. Many can be stored at room temperature. But, many more must be stored cold.
Moreover, the safe storage temperature varies from drug to drug. The typical pharmacy fills approximately 194 prescriptions per day. To serve their patients safely, a given pharmacy might be storing insulin at temperatures between 2-7°C in one fridge, and antiretrovirals between 25-30°C in the next.
The more settings and alarms can be modified, the safer every drug stays.
How Does a Commerical Freezer Temperature Monitoring System Work With WiFi?
There are a few ways a temperature monitoring system can work with WiFi.
First, a temperature probe or coupler can incorporate hardware that lets it automatically transmit data. WiFi temperature data receivers can be:
- On-site data logging devices
- Software applications connected wirelessly
- Cloud data storage components
It can transmit temperature data in real-time, or periodically.
Alternately, the probe may be wired to the data logger. In that case, it’s the logging device (or software application) that automatically sends information via WiFi. Data over a specific threshold may automatically trigger alarms and alerts.
WiFi vs Alternatives
WiFi may be the most popular way to automatically transmit temperature data. Engineers often build WiFi capability into their monitoring systems because the technology is so ubiquitous. But, there are a few alternatives to WiFi.
RFID Temperature Monitoring
Developers have proposed a system to trace and analyze the temperature of an object over time. This system would build temperature sensors into radiofrequency identification (RFID) tags on the devices they want to monitor.
RFID temperature tracking offers greater precision analysis than WiFi-based monitoring systems in certain conditions. Namely, RFID is more precise when a device is in transit. This data enables monitors to pinpoint the exact geographic locations correlated with temperature changes.
Because they utilize radio frequencies, RFID monitors don’t require an internet connection to function.
Currently, this system is not widely used. It may not be cost-effective for monitoring stationary cold storage units (like a freezer in a pharmacy).
Some laboratories use temperature monitoring systems that are entirely wired. They may transmit data through fiber optic cables.
Wired monitoring systems are the most secure. But, they have no capacity for remote monitoring.
Often, temperature monitoring systems have both WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities. Bluetooth devices transmit and receive data via UHF radio waves. These devices utilize the ISM bands (2.402 to 2.48 GHz).
WiFi also sometimes utilizes the 2.4GHz frequency. But, more often, it uses 5GHz. It can also use 6GHz.
Bluetooth is designed for short-range connections between two devices. Its signal is strong, and data sent via Bluetooth is somewhat safer from hackers than data sent via WiFi. So, monitors may opt for Bluetooth when extra security is warranted.
Temperature Monitoring System Comparison: Specifications
Is your organization interested in a temperature monitoring system? As you shop around, keep these key specifications in mind. These traits can determine whether a given system is the best choice for your organization.
How wide a range of temperature should your monitor be able to measure accurately? The substances you work with will determine these parameters.
Temperature monitoring systems also vary in their signal range. The typical wireless system can transmit data anywhere from 50ft to over 1000ft. The distance between your probe and your data logger is relevant.
Temperature monitoring systems vary in precision. Some laboratories that run experiments need to note temperature differences as marginal as 0.001°C. Resistance Temperature Detectors (RTDs) offer the most precision.
Engineers design thermocouples from different alloys. While there are plenty of factors to consider, Platinum RTDs are the most precise. But, they are also the most expensive, and they run comparatively slow.
Accuracy depends on many of the same factors as precision. But, it also depends on effective calibration.
How easy is it to accurately calibrate a given system? Some developers offer calibration services. Others emphasize routine calibration by staff.
It’s wise to look for a temperature monitoring system that’s built to adapt and scale with your business.
Adaptable systems often can receive Over-the-Air firmware updates. These updates improve the associated software’s useability, safety, and device compatibility. They don’t disrupt the function of the monitoring system.
Ideally, your temperature monitoring system is compatible with most devices. It will not be solely useable on a specific operating system. Cloud storage can improve device compatibility, as it enables the monitoring systems applications to run on devices with less memory.
Security should archive and backup data in case of data loss. It should also protect monitored data from hackers.
WiFi temperature monitoring systems should comply with Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS). FIPS compliance ensures that your system uses the level of encryption that security experts recommend.
Premium WiFi Temperature Monitoring
Laboratory refrigerators and commercial freezer temperature monitoring are critical data-gathering tasks. Best practices and regulations change as technology improves.
With SensoScientific, you can meet your team’s cold storage needs with top-of-the-line systems and premium support. Contact our experts today for a consultation.