5 Temperature Data Logger Questions, Answered
If you handle sensitive items (e.g., vaccines, food, or pharmaceuticals) then you know how critical it is to accurately and reliably monitor such environmental parameters as temperature, relative humidity, and carbon dioxide. Temperature data loggers perform this task superbly and have become an indispensable part of any robust environmental monitoring system.
A digital data logger is a compact electronic device that continuously records and monitors changes in temperature and other environmental parameters over an extended period of time. Typically digital data loggers are used to allowing these conditions to be measured, analyzed, documented, and validated.
Each logger is fitted with one or a set of calibrated sensors that record and feed the information about specific environmental conditions to a programmable microprocessor. Environmental data from the logger is then stored in internal data storage, from whence it can be either downloaded for review or automatically transferred to a computer/cloud-based service for analysis.
Dedicated digital data loggers are most commonly used in facilities where measurements of temperature and other critical environmental data need to be constantly monitored, most notably in facilities that handle biologics, food & beverages. These organizations typically employ environmental validation and monitoring solutions to maintain product quality and prove compliance as means to certify their products for security and safety.
The world of temperature data loggers is vast, eclectic, and always evolving. Here we present the five most frequently asked questions with their respective answers.
1. How Do Temperature Data Loggers Work?
A digital data logger is typically equipped with three primary components —a sensor, a microprocessor, and a data storage unit, all of which must work in tandem to measure, process, and store environmental data.
The first bit consists of a single sensor or a series of sensors calibrated to collect specified environmental data, such as relative humidity, temperature, CO2, pressure, and so on. Each sensor is programmed to take measurements of one environmental parameter. A temperature sensor, for instance, is wired to relay information about temperature but no other conditions.
In practical settings, several sensors for different parameters are connected to the same data logger, feeding signals into a central microprocessor. This is essentially a powerful mini-computing machine that converts waveforms, electrical impulses, and other sensor signals into computer-readable environmental data.
The logger data is often stored in either an in-built or removable storage unit, which users can download for review. The same environmental data can be relayed in real-time to a computer, servers, or cloud-based services, most often wirelessly. Today’s state-of-the-art temperature data loggers are kitted out with a raft of nifty features that make them powerful pieces of environmental control and monitoring technology.
For instance, some systems incorporate a network of remote digital data loggers that transfer environmental data in real-time to a cloud-based software application, allowing users to access and analyze it at any time, from a computer, tablet, or mobile device.
This kind of environmental monitoring system can dramatically improve the scale and dependability of a cold chain, quickly alerting personnel to conditions that may compromise product safety and quality.
2. What Industries Use Temperature Data Loggers?
Makers of digital data loggers present an array of different models with different features and functions that can be applied in many different settings. However, one of the overarching qualities of nearly all temperature data loggers is continuity.
In sum, digital data loggers are designed to measure, document, and store environmental data in perpetuity and without interruption. As such, they can ensure constant environmental monitoring and guarantee certifiable quality control.
According to Dickson, temperature data loggers are pivotal for several areas of environmental monitoring. This is especially important during manufacture, transit, and storage for temperature-sensitive items in certain product groups. The more sensitive the items, the more stringent their environmental monitoring and control measures have to be.
Against this background, temperature data loggers have become a mainstay feature in a variety of industries that include the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical (biologic), and medical device industries.
In these highly regulated industries, you will find two categories of temperature monitoring systems used within research & development, manufacture, and supply chain facilities. The first class is for ambient environments, which refers to facilities where products and in-process materials are kept.
The other class of digital data loggers is for monitoring environmental parameters in processing areas like reactors, ovens, autoclaves, or actual process lines.
Sensitive processes and products handled in either category means these heavily regulated industries must put in place robust environmental monitoring and employ other cGMP strategies to ensure product quality and compliance with a set of regulations enforced by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
Other industries where data loggers are used include:
- Healthcare: Temperature control is crucial in healthcare settings to maintain the integrity of vaccines, surgical equipment, drug ingredients, and medicines. Companies must follow temperature monitoring guidelines provided by the VFC (Vaccines for Children) program, CDC, and WHO.
- Food and beverage: Digital data loggers are extremely important for comapnies that produce, transport, store, and in other ways handle perishable food. Temperature and other environmental factors must be monitored throughout the cold supply chain.
- Aerospace: Firms in this industry must monitor temperature and other factors that can affect equipment performance, such as the curing of advanced coatings and composite materials.
3. Are Temperature Data Loggers Expensive?
Most temperature data loggers are fairly affordable, but it pays to verify that the models you consider include everything you need for your environmental monitoring needs. You don’t want to pay extra for software, communication modules, cloud-based access, or storage units.
When performing your shopping research, make sure the data logger meets your input, software, and access requirements.
4. How Often Should I Replace a Temperature Data Logger?
It depends. With proper settings and regular maintenance, a temperature data logger can last the entire battery lifespan, which can be up to fifteen years or longer. Generally, you must recalibrate your loggers every six to twelve months to ensure measurements are within tolerance.
5. What’s the Difference Between a Temperature Data Logger and a Chart Recorder?
Digital data loggers were introduced to replace old-school chart recorders. These earlier temperature recorders used electrical impulses to move a stylus-like apparatus, tracing lines on paper tape reels. With this method, the user has to manually check the reels to note any temperature excursions, which were essentially deviations of the trace lines from the midline.
Temperature data loggers, however, are modern electronic records that measure, record, and store environmental data, usually sending it to a computer or cloud-based system on the fly.
Temperature data loggers are versatile and customizable pieces of environmental control equipment. They can be deployed in various application settings and in many industries that require constant monitoring of environmental parameters such as temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide.