Challenging Technology – Part one – the Deep Freeze

We are used to seeing computers, printers, touch screens, digital signage and other electronic devices everywhere in this day and age. It is a huge contrast to just a few years ago when this sort of electronic technology was only to be found operating in ideal conditions such as offices and homes.

However due to exponential advances in technology matched by the ever decreasing costs these devices are now being utilised in almost every sector and environment: Digital signage has now made its way outdoors, due in part to waterproof LCD enclosures, while industrial computer enclosures have protected PC’s touch screens and printers in industrial environments and factory floors.

There are still many challenges for computer equipment in hostile conditions and none more difficult a challenge than coping with the extreme cold.

To most electronic devices heat is normally the big challenge. Computers run hot and keeping them cool is often a challenge so when it comes to operating in cold conditions you would think there shouldn’t be an issue.

However, when temperatures plummet below freezing, electronic devices can face permanent failure as any moisture trapped inside the devices will expand as it freezes permanently damaging the device but this can easily be overcome by installing the computer inside a heated industrial computer enclosure.

However, many food storage facilities require not just computers but also printers to print out stock labels and barcodes. Traditionally this has always proved a problem as perhaps the most cold-sensitive piece of equipment in any computer system is the print heads of a printer.

Print heads simply can’t operate in cold temperatures and once the thermometer drops below freezing they simply fail within minutes (imagine all that ink freezing solid and you can imagine why).

Unlike computers need to have open access for operators as whatever comes off the printer has to be taken out and here lies the challenge. You can of course place the printer inside a heated printer enclosure but every time the door opens all that heat disperses and here lies the real challenge.

However, thanks to some remarkable engineering a spring-loaded heater printer enclosure has revolutionised the way food companies can control stock in deep freeze locations. Instead of staff having to leave the confines of the chillers to use a printer in a warm office (often the other end of a football pitch sized freezer) they can now print barcodes and labels from inside the deep freeze unit: reducing time wastage, increasing efficiency, reducing logistics turnaround and ultimately saving money.

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