26 April 2019

The average digital device doesn’t do well in the cold. In fact, extremes of temperature in either direction are a good way to impair the functionality of a standard PDA or mobile computer, particularly if they’re repeatedly moved between a normal environment and one that’s intensely hot or cold.

Yet, cold storage is an essential measure for many industries that still need the mobile connectivity this kind of hardware provides. This is where purpose-built cold-resistant mobile computing devices come in. The best rugged mobile hardware should be as at home in extreme cold as anywhere else, as we explore here.

Specialised rugged devices for cold storage environments

Warehouses are constantly shifting environments, built to store goods in between stages of a supply chain. As such, warehouse operatives and the businesses they work for need a means of tracking and managing inventory as it moves from picking to despatch. Handheld, wearable and truck-mounted mobile computers enable access to the wider business’s central data repository from anywhere in the warehouse, giving team members immediate tracking, logging and job progress insight whenever they need it. 

Cold storage warehouses are no different, except that the cold or sub-zero temperatures make standard mobile computers ineffective, impairing functionality and battery life. Thankfully, rugged mobile devices are built to withstand extreme working conditions, including the cold, for operational performance that cold chain warehouse operatives can rely on.

Features of rugged devices in cold chain areas

How exactly are rugged mobile computers designed to resist cold chain conditions? The following are some of the key features of rugged devices for cold chain logistics: ·

  • Large keys – to make inputting data easier when wearing gloves.    
  • Defroster screens – able to resist condensation build up caused by cold air.     
  • Sealed to IP65 rating – this ‘Ingress Protection’ standard ensures rugged devices are officially recognised as being able to resist dust and water spray.    
  • Robust wireless connectivity – to provide unbroken service even within an insulated freezer or refrigerated cold storage area.   
  • Extra strong device housing – will not crack when dropped in cold temperatures.  
  • High-grade lithium ion batteries – designed to last longer in cold conditions.  

Keeping the cold chain industry connected

There’s no need for cold conditions to hamper the efficiency of cold chain storage. Rugged mobile computers built to function even in sub-zero conditions enable cold storage warehouse operatives to move effortlessly between working environments, as well as providing a wealth of productivity and efficiency benefits for cold chain storage and logistics.  

Background

What is the cold chain industry?

Cold chain storage involves moving goods along a supply chain that’s completely temperature-controlled. Goods at each stage of the manufacturing and distribution process are kept refrigerated in order to preserve them. 

The cold chain industry is built around the need to produce and store goods at cold temperatures and includes specially-designed cold chain equipment.

What are the components of the cold chain?

There are several stages of a cold chain, intended to maintain a cold environment from the moment of manufacture to the point of use. Rugged mobile devices are used to oversee the movement of goods from one phase to the next.

Cold chain components include: ·        

  • Packaging – designed to withstand temporarily raised temperatures from the point of production.  
  • Monitoring – of temperature and other environmental factors.  
  • Transport – vans, ships and containers fitted with freezers or refrigerated units.  
  • Storage – such as cold storage warehousing.

Why is cold chain important?

Cold chain ensures that products needing to be kept at low or temperatures reach consumers in perfect condition. Frozen food is an obvious example, but there are many other use cases for cold chain, including pharmaceuticals, photographic film, and some fresh agricultural produce. For example, many medicines and vaccines must be kept between 2 to 8 °C (36 to 46 °F) at all times, or they simply may not be effective when used.

Prolonged exposure to normal or raised temperatures can damage the quality of each of these types of goods, which makes cold chain logistics essential.

Interested in finding out more? Simply get in touch to find out about Touchstar’s rugged mobile devices for the cold chain industry.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - PETER MARSH

Peter joined TouchStar (formally Belgravium) in a sales manager role in 2001.  Prior to joining the company, Peter held Partner and National Sales Manager roles within the parcel and logistics industries.  

In 2011 Peter was promoted to Sales Director and is now actively involved in promoting the value of TouchStar’s Rugged Mobile Computing solutions to the warehouse, logistics, manufacturing and field service industries. When not involved in the business, Peter is a keen and enthusiastic football and cricket fan.


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