Igloo warms to the benefits of radio loggers

Novel datalogging technology is helping the UK's best known refrigerated transport company to assure customers in the food and pharmaceutical industries that their products are being stored and transported in perfect environmental conditions. Chichester based Gemini Data Loggers first supplied Igloo Thermo-Logistics with its small battery powered Tinytag loggers over four years ago. Since that time Igloo has employed over 40 of the loggers to record temperature within refrigerated vehicles, providing evidence that Igloo is conforming to the requirements of the company's pharmaceutical and food industry customers.

Novel datalogging technology is helping the UK's best known refrigerated transport company to assure customers in the food and pharmaceutical industries that their products are being stored and transported in perfect environmental conditions. Chichester based Gemini Data Loggers first supplied Igloo Thermo-Logistics with its small battery powered Tinytag loggers over four years ago. Since that time Igloo has employed over 40 of the loggers to record temperature within refrigerated vehicles, providing evidence that Igloo is conforming to the requirements of the company's pharmaceutical and food industry customers. Following the launch of Gemini's new radio-enabled logger communication technology, Igloo incorporated a new system at its facilities in both Watford and Leeds. The addition of radio to the communication options has provided Igloo with a highly effective, low cost monitoring and alarm system that automatically takes real-time data from multiple points in the company's cold rooms. Commenting on the benefits of the new equipment, Igloo Managing Director Alistair Turner says, "We are now able to view live temperature data from all of our cold rooms 24/7 from any computer anywhere in the world. However, the system also enables us to set alarms so that text and email alerts are issued to key staff if any of the temperatures start to deviate from the norm. As a result, we are able to deal with any problems before they occur." The Tinytag Radio System consists of a number of radio loggers connected wirelessly to a receiver. The receiver is connected to a central PC running 'Tinytag Explorer Radio' software that continuously collects and stores data from the remote loggers. The radio loggers work together in what is known as a 'mesh network,' in which all the devices work together to send information to the central receiver. It allows for continuous connections and automatic reconfiguration around broken or blocked paths by 'hopping' data from node to node until the destination is reached. Each radio logger is a self-contained, battery powered unit that can receive, log and transmit data to other radio loggers, and to the central receiver. If one radio logger is out of range with the receiver, its data hops to its nearest neighbour and hence finds a path back to the receiver. If a radio logger loses connection with all of its neighbouring radio loggers and is unable to find a path back to the receiver, data is stored locally until communication is restored. "The mesh network capability effectively means that we have found a way for radio to go around corners," says Gemini's Nigel Palmer. "The radios have a 200 meter range and sensor cables can extend up to 10 meters. This means that the radio loggers can be mounted high above the sensor locations to maximise radio connectivity." The Tinytag radio loggers were first installed by Igloo in late summer 2010 and Alistair Turner has been delighted with the system. He says, "We initially chose Tinytags, following a trial of other products, because they proved extremely robust – able to withstand extremes of temperature and physical abuse. We therefore leapt at the opportunity to try the radio loggers because they offered a lower labour requirement with even greater assurance for our temperature control systems. "The simplicity of the new system meant that costs were very low; we simply installed the software, connected the receiver and mounted the radio loggers. Then, with the sensors in position, we turned the radio loggers on and the system automatically created the mesh network. Alarm levels were configured at the central PC and since then, the system has effectively run itself." Looking forward, Alistair Turner believes that significant further growth opportunities exist in the pharmaceutical industry. "Temperature control is vital for all of our clients," he says. "However, pharmaceutical goods are often very high in value so accurate, reliable monitoring is even more important in this sector. The Tinytag system therefore provides our customers with an extra level of assurance that we will meet their requirements." Further information on Igloo Thermo-Logisitics, including a video on their highly successful participation in the BBC's Dragons' Den programme is available at www.igloo-thermo.com and for more details on the Tinytag dataloggers visit www.geminidataloggers.com .

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