20 January 2022

Cold storage environments face a number of operational challenges from maintaining temperatures to energy use. Another challenge can be the use of mobile devices in extremely cold temperatures, battling cold, condensation and frost which can all cause damage to standard consumer devices.

This is where rugged devices step in and help cold environments maintain operational efficiencies and productivity.  

Can consumer devices be used in cold storage?  

In most cold storage environments, the IT devices required are used for quality control, inventory and product picking – such devices should be specifically engineered for the cold environment. Regular consumer devices, in general, have the lowest operating temperature of 0°C (32°F), with temperatures below this impacting the electrical component behaviour including:

  • Batteries not performing as well or discharging faster
  • Screens frosting up, making it difficult to read
  • Frost also covers cameras and scanner ports
  • Internal component corrosion from condensation is formed when the device is taken between cold and warmer environments
  • Radio waves are reduced in range due to the cold temperature and well-insulated cold facilities

As well as the electrical difficulties caused by cold temperatures on consumer devices, they are also not designed to be operated using the thick gloves normally worn by workers. Therefore the touchscreen or keyboard are used with great difficulty, which can lead to errors being made.

All of these impacts can slow down operations and increase the risk of downtime in a cold store environment which can impact a business’s overall performance. Therefore, devices that have been specifically designed and made for cold storage are the better choice for businesses.  

What are the benefits of rugged devices in cold storage?  

Many benefits come with using rugged devices in cold storage environments including:

  • Streamline storage and handling. Within a cold environment, orders can be delivered safely with the help of rugged devices to ensure the cold chain isn’t broken.
  • Increase accuracy and productivity. Rugged devices for cold storage are built to ensure easy operation by workers, even whilst wearing gloves, so fewer mistakes are made.
  • Reduce downtime. As rugged devices are built to withstand cold temperatures, they can be relied upon to continue working, reducing the downtime for repairs.
  • Better connectivity. Fitted with the latest technology, cold storage rugged devices ensure business operations stay connected and online throughout the day.  

What design features do rugged devices have that helps them work in cold environments?  

Compared to consumer devices, rugged devices are designed to specifically withstand the harsh environment of cold storage including internal heaters and user-friendly features.  

Internal heaters

Some rugged devices such as tablets or handhelds are fitted with internal heaters to enable them to continue working in cold environments. These heaters work to maintain a warm temperature, enabling the components to continue operating and to stop condensation from forming. Condensation can fog the display and scanners, making them unusable, so keeping the temperature constant enables continuous working and prevents downtime.  

Water-resistant

One of the main dangers to electrical devices in cold environments is water which can come from rain, snow, ice and air moisture. Most rugged devices are built to keep out water and moisture by encasing all the components in rubber and ensuring a complete seal around the device.  

User-friendly

Workers in cold temperatures try to keep warm and often do this by wearing gloves. Unfortunately, gloves don’t work well with consumer devices, and this is where specially-designed rugged devices come in. If a rugged device has a touchscreen, these are calibrated to be used with and without gloves. This also applies to keyboards which can be designed to be spaced out and with hard-capped keys to ensure easy use with gloves.  

What type of rugged device can be used in cold environments?  

There are a number of rugged devices which suit cold environments including:

  • Rugged Handhelds. Ideal for operations with and without gloves, handheld devices help to increase efficiencies and operation visibility in cold chain environments.
  • Rugged Truck Mounts. There to deliver performance in temperature-controlled settings, rugged truck mounts enable high levels of connectivity, operational performance and productivity.  

Find out more

With over 30 years of experience, here at TouchStar, we have the knowledge and expertise to ensure your rugged devices successfully address the needs of your business. Our variety of devices can be seamlessly integrated into your existing systems to provide support for your cold chain management needs.

Get in touch today and our expert team can help answer any questions you may have.

 

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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