Robotic storage facility protects exotic collectibles with wireless sensors
When your primary worker is a 70-ton robot, you try your best to stay out of its way. Such is the case at RoboVault, an ultra-modern, high-tech storage facil-ity in Fort Lauderdale, FL, which uses the largest and tallest robotic crane in the United States to move exotic vehicles and other precious items that it houses for clients worldwide. Items are stored a minimum of 30 ft above sea level in an area of the warehouse where there is no human access - there are no stair-cases or elevators to the storage floors.
Since the facility also stores rare paintings, historic documents, vintage wine, antiques, forensic evidence, sports memorabilia, and other climate-sensitive items, RoboVault carefully monitors the humidity and temperature within its hurricane-proof walls. But each time a human enters the vault to check envi-ronmental readings, the automated robot must halt its work to ensure safety.
Wireless SolutionTo put an end to this disruptive practice, RoboVault recently installed wireless environmental sensors from Massachusetts-based Onset Computer Corp. to measure the climate at the self-storage facility. With the new sensors - Onset’s HOBO® ZW Series - RoboVault employees can now see in real time any changes that occur in temperature or humidity, without having to enter the vault, because the remote network of data nodes sends the climate information wirelessly to an office computer.
“We need to maintain climatic conditions that are conducive for the longevity of items that are rare and valuable,” said Marvin Chaney, RoboVault’s presi-dent and chief operating officer. “So we have to ensure on a daily basis that there are no issues with our climate control systems. Transmitting the data to our office is so much more convenient than sending a person down to check temperature and humidity manually every day.”
In addition to monitoring temperature and relative humidity, the wireless datalogger devices can accommodate sensors that measure air conditioning voltage, amperage, kilowatts, kilowatt hours, gauge pressure, and more. One network can support up to 100 data nodes, creating a self-healing system that can moni-tor many different points. Thus, the data nodes are ideal for storage facilities, museums, and office buildings.
RoboVault placed its data nodes throughout the 155,000-sq-ft storage facility to monitor the environment in special modules for wine, vehicles, and other items as well as safe deposit boxes. The data system allows RoboVault to make sure the building maintains a museum quality climate of 72°F with humidity around 50%. In its wine storage units, the temperature is 55° with humidity levels of between 68% and 70%.
The wireless data nodes work together in a wireless network to send logged data automatically to a remote computer at regular intervals. This provides greater convenience than conventional, standalone dataloggers, which must be retrieved so the collected environmental data can be manually offloaded onto a computer.
The data nodes come with advanced software for managing the sensor network, called HOBOnode™ Manager. The software allows RoboVault to view the data and plot it to analyze trends in interior climate change.
As an extra level of assurance, Robo-Vault has configured the data nodes with alarm settings that will notify employees via e-mail or text messaging if tem-perature or humidity levels fluctuate beyond levels the company prescribes.
“The wireless data nodes are new but functioning nicely so far in our warehouse. It has been interesting to see the fluctuations from daytime to nighttime - just a couple of degrees. I set the parameters to alarm when a change of one degree happened and was alerted. It has given us another level of comfort that in the event of significant atmospheric change in the warehouse, we will be alerted immediately,” said Matt Pici, RoboVault’s director of business development.
Added SecurityFor security and convenience, the facility keeps human entry to a minimum. The robotic crane and rail system delivers possessions out of the facility. Clients activate the process by first entering a personal PIN into a kiosk built into the advanced security system, which uses biometrics, motion sensors, photoelectric beams, door contacts, networked closed circuit televisions, and card access.
The facility was built to protect its contents not only from wily thieves, but also Category 5 hurricanes with 200 mph winds. “When there is a hurricane in Florida, this is the safest place for us and our families to be. We do not vacate, but stay here and ensure the security of the stored items,” Chaney said.
Chaney conceived RoboVault after two decades in the storage business and study of robotic parking in Europe. The Onset® data nodes are his latest addition to make the facility a one-of-a-kind structure that engenders worry-free storage of valuable possessions.