A DataNet wireless ZigBee system was implemented for a leading global pharmaceutical company for wireless temperature monitoring of an automated storage facility.
Increasing regulatory inventory controls in the fast-growing pharmaceutical industry are being met by state‐of‐the‐art automated storage and retrieval systems to ensure product integrity and accommodate high volume distribution.
The pharmaceutical client, among the top 15 pharmaceutical companies in the world specialises in the development, production and marketing of branded pharmaceuticals and active ingredients.
The company recently installed one of the top ten largest automated storage and retrieval systems in the world at one of their production sites, with a volume of over 226,800m² and a capacity of 38,069 storage locations. The facility uses PLC and control technology to manage its logistical system, automatically tracking and retrieving each inventoried item.
In addition to strict inventory control regulations, the client also had to handle highly perishable goods that could spoil if exposed to temperatures beyond predefined thresholds for more than 30 minutes.
Strict regulations included:
- All temperature sensors must maintain an accuracy of ±0.5ºC
- Materials must be stored between 15ºC and 25ºC to avoid spoilage in the air‐conditioned, climate controlled warehouse
- Regular audits and validation directives demanded comprehensive reports and did not tolerate any data loss
Key obstacles included:
- The expansive warehouse required a very robust data logging system
- Metallic material such as pallets, cranes, stairwells, floors etc., throughout the facility created RF obstacles
- Each storage aisle measured 40m H x 150m L, providing a very condensed clean space for data transmission
- Measuring points spanned several floors throughout the warehouse, each floor with a complex system of electrical power grids and air conditioning units, using high voltage currents
The DataNet wireless ZigBee system functions as a backup to the facility’s existing built‐in sensors, increasing the sensor density and ensuring limitless monitoring points throughout every zone of the warehouse.
The DataNet wireless temperature monitoring solution allows flexible onsite deployment providing a secure, real‐time data backup. A bi‐weekly operational procedure driven by regulatory compliance has been implemented at the storage facility.
Highlights of the DataNet wireless ZigBee system:
- 85 Mini DataNet (DNL808) units with external NTC temperature sensors were installed and configured to 10-minute sampling rate and 20-minute transmission rate
- Low and high alarm levels of 15ºC and 25ºC respectively were configured
- 9 Mini Repeaters (DNR800) installed for an extended transmission range to suit warehouse dimensions and ensure network robustness
- Accuracy of all temperature probes are verified in a calibration bath before a one‐week deployment throughout the warehouse
- Specific deployment of each logger may differ depending on the season, after factoring heat, humidity and air flow changes
- Recorded data of each week is exported to Microsoft Excel and a PDF report generated with alarm notifications defined
- All units are retested to maintain sensor accuracy
- Reports with a 3‐year validation are produced to meet Ministry of Health and FDA regulations, as well as customer and internal audits
- Zero data loss thanks to the system’s internal memory ensuring full data storage, retrieval and transfer
- Standalone operation enabled by the Mini DataNet’s long battery life that allows deployment without requiring electrical points
- Scalable and reliable monitoring with ZigBee technology overcoming transmission obstacles to the PC
- User‐friendly DataNet software provides a clear visual map of the data network path, deployed units, alarm indications and data flow
- Multi‐setup saved installation time with all 85 Mini DataNet units configured in a single click
- Regulatory compliance is ensured with data export to Excel feature proving data integrity and intuitive Reports module providing transparent data records