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To ensure that the products reach the customer undamaged:
MSR Data Loggers for continuous transportation monitoring

User report by Alfred Kärcher GmbH & Co. KG.

The name Kärcher stands for supreme cleaning expertise worldwide. Quality without compromise is the top priority for the international German-based family enterprise – including the shipping of its products. In order to be able to assess transportation stresses accurately, the Kärcher Company uses data loggers by MSR Electronics GmbH.

Kärcher, the globally leading manufacturer of cleaning equipment, offers a comprehensive range of products for private households, the trade and industry. The well-known company, which is based in Winnenden, Germany, employs more than 10,600 staff across 60 countries. Together they ensure that their customers throughout the world receive exactly what they expect from Kärcher: impeccable products that meet the highest standards. This high standard of quality does not stop at the shipping of the goods.

Determining transportation stresses when shipping pallets or individual packages

The MSR data loggers employed by Kärcher in this user report were used for the transportation monitoring of the worldwide shipping of packages, so as to be able to assess transportation stresses in more detail in the future. A differentiation was made between the shipping types of pallet shipment and individual shipment. In order to be able to design a package for individual or pallet shipment, various tests were carried out:

  • Vertical shock test
  • Vibration test with variable sinusoidal excitation

During these tests, the packages are purposefully exposed to dynamic mechanical stresses, simulating the actual events taking place during transportation and handling. The objective of the series of measurements by Kärcher was to evaluate the transportation, handling and storage stresses on roads and waterways within Europe. Subsequently, the transportation stresses that occurred in the process were supposed to be compensated for by means of design features of the packaging and by using padding material.

Various data loggers by different manufacturers were tried out by Kärcher for use in testing; they were then compared and divided into fields of application. A significant requirement of the data loggers was that the temperature, humidity and acceleration values needed to be recorded and stored concurrently. The MSR145 data logger by MSR Electronics GmbH was selected as, thanks to its 900 mAh lithium-polymer battery and an additional memory card slot, it is ideal for use in long-term measurements. In addition, the Swiss-made mini logger benefits from small external dimensions.

 

Which logger for which kind of transportation stress?

The required measuring range of a data logger must always be specified, dependent on the respective measuring task. In order to determine acceleration values, which occur for instance during transportation on the loading platform of a vehicle, a relatively small measuring range is generally sufficient. Therefore, Kärcher has rated the MSR145 mini data logger as very well suited for monitoring the shipping of pallets, i.e. for measuring vibrations and light shocks (< ±15 g).

For short, more intense shocks, e.g. 75 g with 8 ms, which may occur during individual shipments, the MSR165 data logger, which is recommended specifically for transportation monitoring, is more superior to the universal MSR145. With 1600/s, the MSR165 allows the user to take a significantly higher number of measurements than the MSR145 (50/s); therefore, transportation stresses can be identified with a far greater resolution. The memory of the MSR165 is capable of storing over 2 million measured values, which is sufficient for recording more than 10,000 shocks; the memory capacity can be extended to more than 1 billion measured values by using a microSD card. Bonus feature: 32 measured values are stored before the actual event. Whilst the shock monitoring feature of the MSR165 is currently available for a maximum of ±15g, a further development to 200 g will be presented by MSR Electronics GmbH at the SENSOR TEST fair in Nuremberg this summer.

 

Sample measurement by Alfred Kärcher GmbH & Co. KG.

The diagram below exemplifies the stresses that impact upon the package during pallet shipment. The package was carried from factory 1 to factory 2 and back. In the process, the package was inside a pallet cage at all times.

The following is intended to illustrate which events occurred at the respective times of measurement:

At the start, the package was first carried to the pallet cage and placed inside it. Therefore, this process is to be regarded as manual handling. In doing so, the values that are marked with frame 1 were recorded; They are within a range of ± 3 g to ± 4 g.

This is followed by a longer phase, during which no change in the acceleration is evident. This is due to the fact that during this period, the package was stored in the pallet cage.

With frame 2, there are a number of events in succession. First, the pallet cage was loaded onto the HGV and carried to factory 2. Once it arrived, the pallet cage was unloaded; the package was then removed from it manually and placed into a new pallet cage for the return transportation. However, no high shock stresses were detected during any of these processes. The maximum acceleration value achieved was four times the acceleration of gravity.

This was followed by another storage phase. However, in contrast to the storage in factory 1, the data logger recorded three shock events (marked by circles in the diagram) at this stage. This may be due to the fact that further packages were placed in the pallet cage. For instance, if these impacted upon “package A”, such a shock might have occurred. Furthermore, it is possible that the pallet cage was knocked and the shock was transferred to the package.

Subsequently the pallet cage was loaded onto the HGV again and carried to factory 1, where the pallet cage was unloaded and the package was manually carried to the place of delivery. The dynamic mechanical stresses identified in the process are marked with frame 3. This is where the strongest shocks were measured. Furthermore, it is evident that the data logger’s measurement threshold of ± 16 g was reached. However, as the package was additionally equipped with a Solve1 logger, it could be established that acceleration greater than 20 g was not achieved.

 

Conclusion: Critical transportation events, such as jolts, shocks and vibrations, but also fluctuations in the temperature or changes in the air pressure can be recorded accurately by means of data loggers. If a package was opened or even damaged en route, or if humidity caused any damage, the loggers document every change, be it ever so small, using appropriate sensors and recording the exact time of occurrence. Any damage during transit can be identified at an early stage and conditions can be reconstructed fully - even questions of liability can be assessed objectively. In addition, the evaluation of the measured data supplies valuable basic information that must be taken into account with respect to transportation packaging. 

 
 
 
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