Guideline-compliant monitoring of temperature and humidity in cool rooms
By FoodProcessing Staff
Wednesday, 12 July, 2017
Proof of cold chain compliance is part of the HACCP plans for many larger-scale ready meal manufacturers, but the days of popping into the cool room with a thermometer and a piece of paper are well and truly over.
In the business sector, the use of cloud solutions is now widespread. ‘Renting instead of buying’ is the motto these days when it comes to using software, in technical jargon also referred to as SaaS — software as a service. Cloud solutions allow ubiquitous data access from any terminal device without any prior installation of specific software. This saves time and makes processes more efficient — opting to use the cloud therefore also has an effect on a company’s economic profitability and competitiveness.
In addition to the increased availability of data, a cloud solution is also an opportunity to extensively automate labour-intensive and time-consuming processes. It’s not all that long ago (and in some companies still common practice) that data was collected manually using a simple thermometer and then documented on paper. The next stage of development was the installation of data loggers at critical measuring points, which at least automated the measurement — but without a network connection, these still had to be read out manually. For analysis and reporting, this data subsequently had to be read into proprietary software and was then also only accessible on this particular terminal device. Moreover, only an ex-post analysis of the readings was possible, so limit value violations were often detected when it was too late.
In the field of measuring technology, cloud applications are still relatively rare. Testo was one of the first suppliers on the market with its testo Saveris 2 measurement data monitoring system, which was launched in 2014, and the company has gained extensive experience.
The option of real-time monitoring was not possible until networked Wi-Fi data loggers were introduced. These automatically sent their data to a central location and could trigger an alarm if a limit value was violated. However, it was still necessary to install specific software, which needed to be maintained and regularly updated. As well as real-time alerts, comprehensive monitoring of all measuring points was now possible for the first time, though still only by certain terminal devices. Only when this networking concept was ported to the cloud was the data available everywhere — around the clock, anywhere in the world and using any terminal device. Rather than specific software, with testo Saveris 2 only a standard web browser is required to monitor and visualise the readings.
This development comes at just the right time, because given the fact that there are ever more legal stipulations and increasing quality management requirements, automated data acquisition, storage and analysis makes it possible to significantly improve efficiency during everyday work. The integrity of the data is ensured at all times and errors can be rectified quickly thanks to the customisable alerting options. The documentation requirements — for example, to prepare audits — are also considerably simpler.
Typical examples of this would be measuring the temperature and humidity of food in cool rooms. Manual readout of data loggers, previously a considerably demanding task in terms of both time and personnel, is completely automated with testo Saveris 2. Data from all measuring points is available directly via the Testo Cloud — not just on an office PC, but also on a smartphone or tablet, so the quality manager can take a look at the current situation from anywhere. If a set upper- or lower-limit value is exceeded, testo Saveris 2 immediately sends an alert via email or SMS so that measures can be taken promptly. Spoiled food products damaged by frost are therefore a thing of the past.
All defined specifications are observed, the cold chain remains unbroken, and proof of this can be supplied at any time with a simple click of the mouse.
The advantages of cloud-based measurement data monitoring are therefore evident — and if there are still any reservations about this solution, they are mostly related to the issue of data security. Strictly speaking, there are two separate issues here: one about preventing the loss of data and the other about protecting data from unauthorised access by third parties. With regard to both these aspects, the Testo Cloud offers high, state-of-the-art safety standards. The Testo Cloud is hosted at one of the world’s largest cloud providers (AWS), which is certified to national and international standards (eg, PCI DSS, ISO 27001 and 95/46/EC).
The provider itself has no access to the stored data; only the customer has this, similar to a safe deposit box in a bank. At the AWS server centres, the measurement data is stored in a high-availability cluster with mirrored, physically separate databases, so that even in the event of a fire, one data copy will still be available. Load balancing between different servers also guarantees a short access time (low latency) at high access rates. In order to prevent potential loss of data in the event of connection problems, the readings remain stored locally in the data loggers until entry in the database has been confirmed. A temporary interruption to the WLAN connection therefore cannot result in any data gaps. Each logger stores up to 10,000 readings so that, with the usual measuring cycle of 15 minutes, the memory is only overwritten after more than 100 days. Furthermore, data export from the cloud to a local server is also possible at any time as required.
With the cloud solution, spot measurements and manual readout of data loggers will soon be a thing of the past, and personnel allocated to these tasks can be used elsewhere. The reporting system is also largely automated. However, the most important aspect is the advantage in terms of data availability and data security: all readings are available via the cloud at all times, and can be retrieved from anywhere and using any terminal device.
The testo Saveris 2 cloud solution therefore offers the ideal prerequisites for guideline-compliant monitoring of temperature and humidity, as well as significant efficiency gains as a result of automated processes.
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