Wireless Data Loggers Maintain Close Eye on Medical Warehouse Conditions

A medical device company uses a wireless data logging system to measure and record air temperature and relative humidity around the clock.

Millstone Medical Outsourcing, a medical device service-oriented company based in Fall River, Massachusetts, recently installed a wireless data logging system to measure and record air temperature and relative humidity around the clock in its 150,000-square-foot warehouse facility in Memphis, Tennessee. The company provides inspection, packaging, distribution, and warehousing of medical instruments and implants – with a primary focus on the orthopedics market.

Due to the sensitivity of these products, staff engineers must maintain specific temperatures and relative humidity levels within warehouses and facilities at all times.

The company serves multiple clients who require warehousing temperatures between 64°F and 74°F, as well as relative humidity levels below 90%.

In the past, engineering staff at the company’s Memphis facility relied on a limited number of stand-alone loggers to collect data relating to environmental conditions within the facility.

These loggers were deployed in quality critical areas, where engineers would return each month to manually offload data onto a computer for analysis. This monthly ritual was time-intensive, and because the loggers were used in a limited number of areas, there was no assurance the facility’s environment as a whole was being properly maintained. While staff could have deployed more stand-alone data loggers to accurately monitor the entire facility, upper management knew the labor involved in offloading the data would make the effort unfeasible.

To overcome these limitations, the company chose a wireless data logging system from Onset, a Massachusetts-based supplier of data loggers and weather stations. The system logs and wirelessly transmits near real-time data within a self-healing mesh network.

To create this wireless monitoring network, the facility’s chief engineer, Tim Lucenti, deployed 20 wireless HOBO ZW-003 temperature/relative humidity data nodes within the company’s facility. Lucenti spaced the nodes 100 feet apart to create a perfect grid within the 300 by 500 foot space. Lucenti also deployed additional nodes in quality-critical areas for redundancy.
“The software technology provided with the nodes makes it easy for us to add and subtract nodes in the system,” Lucenti said.

The wireless loggers were deployed on support beams, mounted on walls, and placed on storage racks. Each is powered by an AC adapter and backed up with batteries. In addition, a wireless logger with a low-temperature sensor is deployed inside the facility’s -25°F freezer.

Temperature and relative humidity readings are recorded and transmitted every five minutes to the system’s receiver located in the facility’s IT room. The receiver is linked to a dedicated computer via USB.

In addition to providing access to data in one centralized location, the system is configured to notify quality, operations, and engineering management staff via email and text messages if temperature and relative humidity levels rise or fall below required ranges.

As a result of deploying the wireless data logging system, facility engineers no longer need to spend hours manually offloading data from individual stand-alone data loggers. This is a welcome change to their schedules, providing more time to focus on other projects. And, the system’s near real-time data collection allows engineering staff to quickly address environmental issues that arise on a 24/7 basis, as opposed to monthly. This helps improve operations and business reputation.

Once a month, engineers are able to generate graphs of environmental conditions for management review. Not only do these charts provide management with concrete assessment of the environment within the facility, they also serve as sales tools for securing new clients, and help provide assurance of environmental conditions for existing clients. With this valuable data, company management, prospects, and regarded customers all know the facility is well monitored and maintained.

What’s more, with HOBOware Pro, engineering management now generates trend reporting. In their reports, outside ambient temperatures are plotted next to indoor temperatures to determine the effect of outside temperatures on indoor conditions. With this analysis, engineers anticipate heat spikes and adequately compensate with temperature controls.

“We are currently monitoring ceiling areas,” says Lucenti. “With this data, we will better determine how to configure racking close to the ceilings, which will allow us to expand our product storage area.”