International standards for phytosanitary measures No.15(ISPM 15) data logging made easy

Tritherm has a long experience of serving the wood packaging industry for more than a decade and has released “X-TERMINATOR 15”, a new intelligent and versatile data logger cum controller for the industry.

The ISPM 15 is a standard developed by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) that directly addresses the need to treat wood materials of a thickness greater than 6mm which are used to ship products between countries. Its main purpose is to prevent the spread of disease and insects infestation across borders that can negatively affect plants or ecosystems.

An example of the X-Terminator 15 in use (Image credit: Tritherm)

ISPM 15 affects all wood packaging material (pallets, crates, dunnages, etc.) requiring that they be debarked and then heat treated or fumigated with methyl bromide and stamped with a mark of compliance. Products exempted from the ISPM 15 are made from alternative materials like paper, plastic or wood panel products (i.e. OSB, hard-board, and plywood).

This standard requires all wood packaging materials to be fumigated or heat treated to a required temperature of 56 degrees for not less than 30 minutes. The temperature measurements are based on calibrated and certified temperature sensors inserted into the core of the timber and fixed at prescribed locations in a Heat Treatment Chamber. Some countries require the temperature higher than 56 degrees. The stipulated number of core temperature points can range from 4 to 6 points.

The treatment temperatures must be recorded using a DATA LOGGER to show the gradual increase in the room temperature to 56 degrees for the required fixed duration of 30 minutes.

During the 30-minute period, the temperature is not allowed to drop below 56 degrees, otherwise the logging process will have to start all over again.

The data must be captured in a standardised format showing the time and temperatures at regular interval (in minutes). A graphical report has to be made available and printed out in a format capturing details of the Heat Treatment Service provider such as company name, Facility License number (provided by the Agriculture Quarantine Department) and also details of the product being treated.

The difficulty encountered in this process is the availability of a versatile, flexible and easy to use Data Logger that can fulfil all the different requirements of the governing authority. In addition, the integrity of the captured data must be in the raw format to prevent manipulation by the service provider in the computer system.

Cases of cheating had occurred before whereby a service provider used the same stack of treated timber to be treated, each time starting at a temperature several degrees below the required temperature of 56 degrees.

As a result, different agriculture ministries required different starting room temperatures to be recorded prior to reaching the 56 degrees.

Over the years, Tritherm has seen the frustration of the government’s agriculture ministries having to deal with a myriad of Data Loggers in the market that do not meet their requirements. Heat Treatment Service Providers, too, had to spend thousands of dollars getting the right equipment to comply with the ever-changing requirements of the governing authority.

Moreover, most Data Loggers are used for capturing data only. Most heat treatment facility runs on electricity. The heat required depends on the number of pieces of packaging materials being treated and may range between 100 kw/hr to 200 kw/hr. If a data logger is not designed to stop at the end of the process, the heater will continue to remain at 56 degrees until an operator is present to shut down the system.

The X-Terminator 15 is the Ultimate ISPM 15 Data Logger the Wood Packaging Industry is looking for. Salient features of the X-Terminator are as follows :

  1. The X-Terminator has a Drying Option Mode where the wooden materials can first be dried before heat treatment starts. A target moisture content of say 20% can be selected. The moisture content information is captured and displayed as the Wood packaging materials are being heat treated. Moisture content measuring points from 1 to 4 can be selected.
  2. Some governing authorities have indicated that a 12 wood core temperature points may be required. The X-Terminator is designed to accept up to 12 wood core temperature points, not including the two air temperature sensors which can act as 1 Dry Bulb temperature sensor and 1 Wet Bulb temperature Sensor or act as 2 Dry Bulb Temperature sensors.
  3. The X-Terminator 15 Temperature sensors and Moisture Content measuring points can be calibrated in-situ. The calibration carried out is timed stamped and recorded. This will have to correspond with the calibration provided by the certified calibration company.
  4. The X-Terminator 15 can turn off the fans and heaters automatically when the heat treatment process is completed, saving electricity when the process finishes in the middle of the night and no operator is present to turn off the system.
  5. Data recorded is stored in SD memory card and can be downloaded onto a computer or can be stored in our Cloud Storage for a minimum annual fee. It is also possible for the Governing Authority to subscribe to access the Heat Treatment records of the Service Providers’ under their supervision. This makes reporting and enforcement much more transparent and convenient.