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Cold Weather Shipping: Allowing for Proper Acclimation Time

Cold Weather Shipping: Allowing for Proper Acclimation Time

From ASHRAE Journal Newsletter, June 8, 2021 

Engineers must allow IT equipment enough time to acclimate to a new environment during the winter after shipping to prevent damage, said Joseph Prisco, the lead author on a new ASHRAE Datacom Series white paper.

“Not allowing for proper acclimation time can result in irreversible hardware damage to items such as processors, memory and input/output, which will cause delays waiting for new parts or, in extreme circumstances, require a whole new machine to be shipped,” he said.

Acclimation time guidelines are just one piece of information included in ASHRAE’s recently released “Cold Weather Shipping Acclimation and Best Practices” white paper, which provides additional guidance for shipping IT equipment and outlines weather shipping practices and packaging for various modes of transportation. The white paper is free to download.

Prisco said the most important thing engineers need to know about cold weather shipping is acclimation time (typically 24–48 hours) must be allowed for IT equipment in the winter, despite pressure to install ITE as soon as it arrives.  

“Acclimation should be done in a thermal environment similar to the data center but not necessarily within the data center, since the packaging (cardboard, polybag) should remain on the IT equipment,” he said.

He also advised against using forced air from the data center air-conditioning system to shorten the acclimation time.

“We learned that because data center air is humidified, pumping all that moisture-laden air into the IT equipment introduces more condensate that can significantly increase the acclimation time. Our experiments showed acclimation time could be lengthened by more than 12 hours, but there are several variables to consider, including but not limited to machine mass, temperature change and amount of humidified air being pumped in,” he said.

ASHRAE released the white paper in conjunction with the fifth edition of Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments in ASHRAE’s Datacom Series. Download the white paper here.