Selecting Devices for Refrigerated Transport Monitoring

December 08 2020

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Originally Published: July 15, 2019

Proper cold chain monitoring is vital in ensuring the safe shipment of medical and perishable goods. But temperature control is one of the most challenging areas of supply logistics. Several Digital Matter devices combine temperature monitoring and GPS tracking to ensure critical assets are always accounted for and kept at safe temperatures during refrigerated transport.

The Falcon

Designed specifically to support refrigerated transport logistics, the Falcon GPS features inputs/outputs, I²C Sensor Interface, and WiFi Positioning for indoor and outdoor asset tracking and cold chain monitoring applications.

Falcon Device

Photo: Falcon GPS with optional Temperature Probe

Multiple Power Options – 3 x AA LiFeSO2/LTC or 4-16V External Power

The Falcon can be connected to a constant power source (4-16V), and additionally fitted with 3 x AA batteries. The device is smart enough to fail-over to use the 3 x AA battery supply if there is an external power cut, providing the flexibility to install the device if a power source is present, or simply use it as a portable unit if unavailable. Two different battery types are supported – LiFeSO2 batteries, like Energizer Ultimate Lithium, or Lithium Thionyl Chloride Batteries (LTC). LTC batteries have a typical operating temperature range of -40 to +80 deg C, perfect for refrigerated transport, as the cold temps may result in sub-optimal performance from other battery types.

GPS + WiFi Tracking

The Falcon has both a GPS and WiFi module on board to provide location updates indoors and out. If a GPS fix cannot be acquired, for example when indoors in a hospital, storeroom, warehouse or loading dock, the device will scan for nearby WiFi networks. Services such as Google’s Geolocation API can then use this information to determine a position. Learn more about WiFi Positioning Systems for Indoor Tracking here.

Multiple Inputs and Outputs – I²C Sensor Interface

The Falcon features an I²C sensor interface which can be used to connect a variety of sensors including our temperature probe.  Contact us for information on support for other sensors.

2 x Digital Inputs

The Falcon has 2 x Digital inputs which can be used to monitor a refrigerator door being open or closed. In addition, a 0-30V analog input is available for sensors that output an analog value (4-20mA), and a switched ground output (to control a relay, etc.,).

Flexible Logging Parameters

Smart firmware on the Falcon enables some smart logging options:

Tracking Modes – Turn by turn, periodic or movement-based tracking modes can be configured. High-accuracy tracking is available for users interested in how temperature changes according to different movement patterns. Temperature Samples can also be set to occur on GPS fixes to tie temperature readings to trip start/end locations.

Temperature Sampling – Temperature sampling can be configured to maximize battery life and user needs. Some of these options include:

  • Different temperature sampling and update rates when in transit versus stationary.
  • Adjust the sampling rate based on an input change (e.g. after the door is opened or closed).
  • The device can “Sleep” while within an acceptable range and then increase the sampling rate and send an alert when the temperate falls outside of this range.

G120 + Bluetooth® Tags and Sensors

The G120 is our feature-rich vehicle tracking device and Bluetooth 5.0 Gateway.

G120 GPS with Bluetooth

Hardwired into vehicles, the G120 is a complete fleet management, driver ID, and driver safety and behavior solution with features such as:

  • RFID Driver ID option for driver management and behavior monitoring
  • ​ODO/Run hour monitoring
  • Over-speed alerts, harsh accident and rollover detection and alerting
  • Multiple inputs to monitor seatbelt usage, 4WD engaged, etc.
  • Outputs to wire in buzzers for driver feedback, or to be used to immobilize the vehicle
  • Optional Iridium Satellite fallback to track vehicles in low cellular coverage areas

In addition to real-time vehicle tracking, the G120’s onboard Bluetooth module can be paired with our SensorNode Bluetooth or any third-party Bluetooth sensor to report temperature wirelessly.

The SensorNode Bluetooth is a rugged and feature-rich Bluetooth® tag with inputs/outputs and I²C sensor interface for asset and sensor monitoring applications. With flexible power options, the SensorNode can be powered by 3 x AA LiFeSO2 or Alkaline batteries with up to 4 years of battery life or wired to permanent power. As per the Falcon, the SensorNode Bluetooth also has the following inputs – 2 x Digital Inputs, I2C sensor input, 1 x Analogue Input. It samples all inputs every 30 seconds and sends a Bluetooth beacon signal containing the readings every 2 seconds. The G120 will detect this and upload the readings as part of its data.

Almost any third-party Bluetooth tags and temperature sensors can also be integrated with the G120. Learn more about integrating Bluetooth tags and sensors here.

Which Device is Right for my Refrigerated Transport Needs?

  • The Falcon is a stand-alone tracking unit, and has GPS/WiFi for tracking, along with a cellular modem to transmit its data.
  • The SensorNode Bluetooth® has no onboard location capability and can only communicate via Bluetooth (i.e. to the G120 and not directly to the server). It must be within range of a G120 or other Bluetooth device for the server to be able to receive the data.

If the refrigeration vehicle needs to be tracked and reported on, the G120 + SensorNode Bluetooth® option is the ideal solution. If a battery-powered or zero-install solution is required, the Falcon is the preferred option.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about GPS tracking and cold chain solutions for maintaining quality and compliance.

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