Data loggers have become a vital part of logistics and inventory management. What used to be done by humans can now be done 24 hours a day by digital data loggers.
What is a data logger?
A data logger is a small electronic device that monitors and records the environment for anything that’s important to the location, people, or goods. Conditions ranging from humidity, temperature, light exposure, and more are automatically monitored, recorded, then often reported to the main computer that processes the data and creates reports for humans to review.
In times past, this type of data was collected by a person. They would check temperatures, humidity, power usage voltage, and more. It was time-consuming and couldn’t be done continuously. A person would fill out a report every few hours or a couple of times a day.
In this blog, we’ll look at four important data loggers: temperature, humidity, voltage, and pressure.
Why Data Loggers are Important
Digital data loggers provide information available 24/7, constantly reporting back to the people who need to know what’s happening with their food, medicine, storage areas, building, goods, and much more.
In the past year, data loggers that track temperature and humidity have become extremely important in the shipping of COVID-19 vaccines.
According to Robotics and Automation News, the three major vaccines in the US have a massive temperature range to ensure freshness:
- Johnson & Johnson vector vaccine: 2 to 8 degrees Celsius
- Moderna mRNA vaccine: -15 to -25 degrees Celsius
- Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine: -60 to -80 degrees Celsius
Every shipment of these vaccines has been sent out with a data logger in the box to ensure that at every moment the vaccines have been at the right temperature.
When it comes to other items, such as food, data loggers monitor all of the factors that can affect freshness and health. Temperature, humidity, light exposure, and more can all be observed and tracked.
Data loggers can help notify people of equipment failure:
“Equipment failure and product loss can result in significant costs for Food & Beverage operations. A modern example is a sandwich shop franchise with a walk-in cooler that fails—which can result in a loss of more than $10,000 for even a modest operation.” – Quality Magazine.
Data loggers have become a vital tool to use in shipping and storage to guarantee that products maintain their safety and viability.
The Monitoring Dashboard
Most data loggers are connected through Wi-Fi or satellite communications or are hardwired to global monitoring systems. This allows the data logger to deliver data instantly to a system that will look for anomalies, report concerns, and keep a constant record of everything the data logger is tracking.
Using these dashboards, manufacturers, shippers, and customers can track their goods from anywhere in the world 24 hours a day. If a shipment is delayed, the data logger reports that. If it’s allowed to get too warm, too cold, too humid, or is under too much pressure, the dashboard reports that as well.
This combination of motoring, communications, and data monitoring has taken the guesswork out of the shipping, food service, pharmaceuticals, and other industries. Rather than taking it on faith that everything has been handled correctly, data loggers and the associated tracking systems have made it easier to know that everything we use has been handled correctly from start to finish.
Four Important Types of Data Loggers
Here are a few examples of different data loggers commonly used in environmental monitoring.
- Temperature – As mentioned above, this data logger has been in the spotlight because of the sensitivity of the COVID-19 vaccines. Their use expands much farther than that. They are often included in fresh produce shipments, frozen foods, other medicines, and even sensitive electronics. Ensuring that temperatures have stayed within acceptable ranges is key to keeping items in pristine condition.
- Humidity – A shipment or storage facility’s humidity levels let appropriate personnel know if there’s a risk of mold, if electronics are too moist, or if items that need high humidity have begun to dry out. A humidity monitor signals the user that something is wrong and ensures that conditions are quickly fixed.
- Voltage – Voltage that is too high or too low can destroy sensitive electronics. Regular reporting on voltage levels ensures that manager, such as those at data farms, know immediately if something has gone wrong. This allows engineers to look for problems before the customers become aware of the damage. Because voltage data loggers never blink, they can constantly report on voltage fluctuation.
- Pressure – Pressure is vital for many applications. The most fundamental is barometric pressure, the pressure of the air in a facility, gas line, or factory machinery. . In other cases, pipelines, storage containers, and water supply systems are all monitored for pressure to ensure they are working properly. A pressure data logger can ensure that sudden drops or spikes in pressure are immediately addressed.
Many data loggers monitor multiple types of information at a time. A single logger can report temperature, pressure, light, shock, and drop. It will report all that data back as a package.
Rather than needing several monitors, a single data logger can provide everything one needs.
Even in the home, a single data logger can report on motion (a burglar alarm), water (a basement monitoring system), and temperature (inside a freezer). Each of these data points can be reported to the homeowner with an alarm when an individual piece of data is outside normal parameters.
The Future of Data Loggers
Today’s data loggers are just the first in what will likely be generations of monitoring devices that will let us know more about our environment than ever before. From the current barometric pressure to changes in elevation or humidity, we’ll be able to keep track of millions of data points at once, creating a picture of our world in more detail than has ever existed before.
Already data loggers are saving billions of dollars in goods and products, saving lives, and telling us about our world. Who knows where we’ll see data monitors in the future?