How to

1 August 2017

Features and Benefits of Specialised Cold Storage Devices

The environment within a cold storage facility can be rather harsh; of course this is somewhat crucial to the successful operation of the facility, but it does create challenges for the staff and equipment tasked with working within. We’ve discussed in the past the issues which are likely to affect workers, as well as methods of counteracting them, but what of the technology these individuals rely upon to complete their daily tasks?

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Mobile computing devices can struggle within a cold storage facility due to a number of factors. Cold air, frost, condensation and even the insulation of the facility itself can have negative effects upon device performance, which can substantially hinder the productivity of the workforce.

One of the more prominent issues is the clouding or obscuring of displays as a result of frost; an issue which also affects the optical port of barcode scanners which are often vital to the operation of a warehousing facility. Frost can also cause keypads to stick if they are not properly sealed in order to prevent such occurrences.

The low temperatures also have a negative effect upon battery performance, preventing them from releasing their energy in an efficient manner and leading to a 40-50% reduction in battery life in the worst cases. This will soon have a notable impact upon both productivity and costs.

The combination of cold air and insulation will also reduce wireless signals and LAN performance, as the insulation leads to signal dead zones within the facility and the cold air affects the manner in which radio waves travel.

The final cold-related issue worthy of mention stems from transitioning quickly between the cold facility and warmer areas before moving back once more. This creates condensation, which will settle on the outside of the device and may even find its way inside, corroding components and reducing the lifespan of affected devices.

Specialist cold storage devices will be an essential if regular usage is required at temperatures below -22°F (-30°C), utilising a variety of technologies, techniques and features in a bid to fight the damaging effects of the cold. These features include:

Moisture Protection - How well protected a device is against the intrusion of moisture and dust is indicated by its IP rating. While an IP54 rating is fairly standard for most hard-wearing applications, an IP65 rated device will serve you much better within a cold storage facility.

Built-in Heaters - As previously mentioned both frost and condensation can cause serious issues with electronic devices, so many purpose-built devices for cold storage applications will incorporate a built-in heater in an effort to prevent any build-up. This lessens to chance of encountering issues such as fogged displays and corrosion caused by condensation, significantly improving upon the lifespan of the device and productivity levels within the facility.

Specialised Battery Technology - As low temperatures are known to negatively impact upon battery performance, devices intended for use within a cold storage facility will typically require a specialist battery created specifically with this task in mind. These batteries make use of low-impedance lithium-ion technology, which fares much better under such conditions as these batteries are better able to release energy at low temperatures.

Protective Coatings - The best defence against invading moisture in an electronic device is to apply a specialised protective coating to internal components and connections, thereby preventing any contact between the fragile electronics and the damaging moisture. This is arguably one of the most important features to look for when selecting devices for use in a cold storage environment.

Larger Keypads - Not only will larger keypads result in them being less like to stick as a result of frost, it will also make them easier for employees to use with cold hands and thick gloves while making data entry errors less likely. The impact such a seemingly basic feature can have upon workforce productivity should not be overlooked.

There are a few other useful features to bear in mind when in the market for cold storage devices, such as strengthened, screw-in peripheral connections which are better sealed against the elements than their conventional counterparts. It will also be worth looking into specialised wireless access points in an effort to improve upon connectivity within the facility.

The only downside to many of these cold storage devices and accompanying features is a slightly higher cost in general as compared to more conventional technologies. However, this will soon be offset by increased productivity levels and a reduction in spending on repairs and replacements. Overall, these little extras are well worth the additional expenditure.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for the written word. Currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor, his time at many UK festivals has taught him the importance of keeping warm.