What’s a Data Logger and Why Should You Care?

Information, as we all know, is power. And information about the plethora of perishable commodities shipped around the world safeguards those commodities. For certain types of goods, the best way to track information associated with those goods is with a data logger. The data logger will typically capture data using a specially designed sensor. If the data to be tracked goes above or below a certain range, an SMS alert or email alert will be sent to the relevant parties. 

Needless to say, this kind of tracking and alert system is important in a large variety of industries. It has particular relevance in the field of healthcare and food, where items need to be kept at a very specific temperature, humidity, and pressure to work. It also has implications for aerospace and manufacturing, where goods will also need to be produced or stored in very controlled environments. 

Different Types of Data Loggers

Data loggers can track multiple pieces of information but are most commonly designed to track a single variable. The main kinds of data loggers include:

  • Temperature Data Loggers – These record either the temperature of the product or of the surrounding environment (or both). They can be placed inside shipping containers. They can also be calibrated to detect extremely hot or cold temperatures.
  • Humidity Data Loggers – These measure humidity in percentages. Humidity data loggers are often used in conjunction with temperature and CO2 loggers. A typical environment for this would be a lab or hospital cleanroom. 
  • CO2 Data Loggers – These can be used in commercial and workplace settings. CO2 levels must be monitored because high levels, such as can be found in grain silos, can endanger humans entering such areas. 
  • Pressure Data Loggers – These loggers can be used to measure atmospheric, differential, vacuum, and gauge pressure. They have numerous applications in wastewater treatment, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, hospital operating rooms, and so on.
  • Open/Close Data Loggers – These are used a little less extensively than the other types. They are more often seen in temperature-sensitive environments, where the opening or closing of a door too often would affect the temperature. They can be used as a backup to main temperature alarms with refrigerators, freezers, and heat treatment ovens. 

As noted by Dickson Data, data loggers like the ones above play a vital role in ensuring that industry-specific compliance standards are met and that the environment or product is kept intact. Without them, businesses can face fines or a potential lawsuit as the result of a catastrophe. 

Where Does the Data Go?

Recording the data is only the first step. It’s what you do with the data that counts. Data loggers are often used to ensure that the product or environment stays within a given range of pressure, humidity, or temperature. And the information is sent to and stored in the cloud where it can be used to optimize processes and predict future trends. 

Not only are there different types of data loggers, but there are also different kinds of data and different kinds of sensors. For instance, businesses need to consider whether they need real-time monitoring or static monitoring. The difference is that real-time monitoring is continuous or near-continuous logging of information while static monitoring only records information at select intervals for download. 

When selecting a data logger remember that data analysis toolkits, sensors, and interfaces are equally important. Typically, these will come in a package for an all-in-one solution. Businesses need to ensure that the data logger matches their specific requirements so that industry-specific compliance guidelines are adhered to. This might include present and historical real-time monitoring across warehouses, supply chains, factories, and end locations. 

Data Loggers Case Study: Pharmaceutical Supply Chain 

In recent years data loggers have come to prominence within the pharmaceutical supply chain. This is due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the need for cold chain storage of vaccines in transit. These vaccines need to be carefully monitored using temperature data loggers so they stay within range. With unequal global vaccine distribution and huge vaccine waste, optimizing the supply chain with data sensors and other equipment is of critical concern. 

We have also seen many innovations with the data loggers themselves. Now, the temperature sensor can be scanned via Bluetooth on a smartphone and the information can be immediately uploaded. This is especially relevant for cold storage medical equipment. 

For example, let’s say a shipment of vaccines is on the way from Boston to Argentina. At a given checkpoint such as Texas, a quick scan of the vaccine shipment reveals that the temperature fell out of the specific range for an extended period, meaning the vaccines may have lost their efficacy. Armed with this information, the shipment is sent back without wasting time, fuel, and container space continuing on to its destination. It saves both time and money for the sender and recipient. 

Data loggers also bring significant compliance benefits. If the FDA requires pharmaceutical drugs to be kept within a certain temperature range, data loggers can provide historical proof of compliance in an extremely cost-efficient manner. 

So Why Should I Care About Data Loggers?

There are multiple reasons to care about data loggers. Business owners need to care about them due to the potential for fines and to ensure products are kept in the right condition for consumers. But even typical citizens will need to take note. Sensors and data loggers could easily be a part of everyday life in an integrated-internet-of-things (IIOT) society. 

This will involve sensors in the household to track your energy consumption, monitor environmental variables, detect intruders, manage your smart home, and for a variety of other functions. A household can be looked at like a miniature business, in a way. This will also be important for hotels and restaurants owners, to ensure the environment is at a specific temperature range and humidity level for guests. 

Data loggers can even help to prevent the deterioration of building envelopes and their contents. By monitoring the humidity and temperature, you can ensure an even temperature to reduce dampness and moisture, which is a big reason for the premature malfunction of many household items. This is already done in supply chain logistics with data loggers in warehouses, product carriers, and end-point storage facilities. 

Data Loggers – The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that the world is becoming more connected, and this allows for faster data transfer. This also means better practical action, once the data is correctly analyzed. 

Data loggers are going to play a key role in the future internet-of-things economy and will allow for increased efficiency, effective insights, predictive analysis, and compliance with industry standards.