Monitoring environmental conditions can be incredibly important in certain industries. Ensuring that raw materials, manufacturing processes, and distribution and storage of final products are kept at the correct temperature and humidity levels can be key to ensuring products stay safe and effective for consumers.
In some industries, environmental monitoring is simply something that is good to do. In other, more highly-regulated industries, it is essential. Industries, where unsafe or ineffective products are not easily visible to the naked eye and where bad products can cause serious harm have strict environmental monitoring regulations. These industries include ones like the pharmaceutical, food and beverage, aerospace, healthcare, and precision manufacturing industries.
Devices known as data loggers help companies in these industries and others precisely monitor environmental conditions. These devices can monitor different kinds of conditions in different ways, depending on a company’s needs. Here, we will break down two major data logger functions; temperature and humidity. We’ll discuss how data loggers work, how each type is used, and why the two functions are sometimes combined.
How a Data Logger Works
Data loggers are sensors that record data. A data logger may record a single type of data or several types. This data can include temperature, humidity, pressure, carbon dioxide, force, moisture, speed, or even if a door to a space is opened or closed. In regulated industries, like the ones mentioned above, temperature and humidity are the most common. Here are some examples of different types of data loggers, including multiple temperature data loggers.
Data loggers can usually be split into one of several categories. Single-use data loggers and permanent or fixed data loggers are often used. Single-use data loggers can be put into packaging to monitor the conditions of a product’s journey through the supply chain. Permanent data loggers are generally mounted on a wall to monitor conditions in a given space.
These fixed data loggers, no matter how they work or what they monitor, can also usually be split into one of two groups. Standard data loggers have either a display that is read in-person or that generates a report from the device. Bluetooth-enabled data loggers are internet-connected devices. These devices, part of the Internet of Things (IoT), can transmit their data to a remote cloud-based monitoring system.
Ways Temperature Data Loggers Are Used
Temperature data loggers are used to ensure that a space or a product stays within a desired temperature range over time. Temperature data loggers can be affixed to walls of spaces, dropped into a shipment of goods, or even stuck into a product with a probe to monitor temperatures. Standard temperature data loggers monitor a normal range of temperatures; ultra-high and low-temperature monitors are used for spaces and products that require unusually hot or cold temperatures. These would be used in places like an industrial oven or a medical deep-freezer.
Temperature data loggers have been very much in the news in 2021 because they are a key piece of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The approved vaccines (specifically in the U.S., but in other parts of the world, too) need to be kept within very specific temperature ranges. This is because of the delicate biological material from which these vaccines are made. The temperatures range from simply normal refrigerated temperatures to -70 degrees Celsius (-94 degrees Fahrenheit). Data loggers are the way pharmaceutical companies, logistics companies, and medical professionals are monitoring vaccines throughout the cold chain to ensure their effectiveness when administered.
Ways Humidity Data Loggers Are Used
Humidity data loggers measure the amount of moisture in the air. They can measure specific aspects of humidity such as relative humidity (%RH), dew point, and water vapor concentration. Like temperature, humidity can have an adverse effect on certain products or practices and, in highly regulated industries, it is important to always know the humidity levels in a space.
One common area where humidity data loggers are important is in industrial greenhouses. The plants or foods grown in greenhouses all have specific humidity levels that help them grow, maintain freshness, and prevent disease or the proliferation of certain pests. A humidity data logger allows precise monitoring of these conditions, raising or lowering the humidity to maintain conditions within a desired range.
Why Temperature and Humidity Data Loggers Are Sometimes Combined
Depending on specific needs, you can easily find either temperature data loggers or humidity data loggers. However, data loggers that combine both temperature and humidity monitoring capabilities are also common. In many situations, these devices can be the best solution to a company’s issues.
When combining temperature and humidity monitoring into a single data logger, you get a more comprehensive picture of the environmental conditions in a space. You can see how one variable affects the other and adjust your external factors accordingly to achieve the ideal temperature and humidity ranges for your needs. In the example of the greenhouse above, external temperatures may affect humidity. When the temperature hits a certain point, the data logger can let you know that it is time to ventilate the space to reduce humidity.
Another reason for combined temperature and humidity data loggers is a process known as thermal mapping. For this process, a large number of data loggers are set up throughout a space and the temperature and humidity are monitored over a set period of time and under specific conditions.
This allows you to create a comprehensive map of what conditions in a space will be under different circumstances. A thermal map will help you understand what will happen to conditions when the space is filled to capacity, nearly empty, when a door is opened, or if the HVAC shuts down. Thermal mapping is important for long-term environmental monitoring, creating standard operating procedures, developing emergency plans, and other important aspects of product condition monitoring.
Data loggers are critical elements in regulated industries. They help keep consumers safe and make it easier for companies to adhere to industry standards. Whether you use them to help monitor temperature, humidity, or both, they are a key piece of many industries and should be utilized by any industry with strict environmental regulations.