What comes to mind when you hear the phrase ‘data logger?’ If it makes you think about a hidden device that hears and sees things and saves them to memory, you wouldn’t be too far off. There are tasks you can and cannot do with them. Before we explore the right and wrong expectations for a data logger, let’s take a look at what one is and what it can do.
A data logger simply logs various types of data. It is an instrument used to monitor and record conditions – and the changes to those conditions – over time. There are two main types of data loggers. One is a single, stand-alone style and the other contains multiple channels to monitor various types of data. Many of the stand-alone data loggers operate on batteries enabling them to record when moving from one location to another as well as for extended monitoring sessions in one place.
How A Data Logger Does Its Job
There are essentially two parts to a data logger, according to Dickson. Memory for storage of the collected data is usually accomplished with a microprocessor. A sensor that is sensitive enough to collect the required data is also needed. In a warehouse setting, sensors could record changes to temperature and humidity, as an example.
The amount of data recorded depends on the memory capacity of the data logger. In addition, the sample rate will affect how much memory is used over time. If you divide the memory capacity by the sample rate you will have the approximate length of time the memory will be able to record and store data.
The data collected is either directly downloaded to a computer or viewed and analyzed with specialized software. Some data loggers can connect wirelessly to a device to permit downloading or viewing. Data loggers do not require a constant computer connection, unlike many other data collection devices.
How You Use A Data Logger
There are many different applications for data loggers. Considering that they can monitor and record such conditions as temperature, humidity, voltage, current, pulse, carbon dioxide, pH and pressure they can be used to:
– Track temperature/humidity in storage and transportation facilities
– Log food temperature in storage
– Provide information useful in building maintenance
– Monitor agricultural growing conditions
– Record medical facility conditions
Data Logger Do’s
Here is a shortlist of tasks you should do with your data logger.
1 – Get It Calibrated Regularly
Even though you would have purchased a calibration (proving that your data logger was calibrated against a NIST and/or A2LA standard) when you received your device, it will require regular calibrations. We suggest that you implement a one-year interval using the date on the calibration certificate as your guide. By keeping your monitor properly calibrated, you can be more confident that the data you collect from it will be accurate.
2 – Know Your Abbreviations
In a way, data logging information includes many industry-related terms and acronyms that can look much like a new language. Most of the new terms you will learn are meant to save time and space when keeping your personal written logs. Here are a few of the most common ones you will encounter.
DL – Data Logger
EDL – Electronic Data Logger
EDLM – Electronic Data Logger Monitor
GMP – Good Manufacturing Practice(s)
LOP – Location of Product
NIST – National Institute of Standards and Technology
3 – Use The Right Data Logger For The Job
There is a wide variety of data loggers available that will monitor various conditions. If your requirements are related to the environmental conditions in an enclosed space such as a factory, devices that monitor soil conditions are likely not going to be of much help to you. This is why it is essential to have a clear understanding of the types of conditions requiring monitoring and matching those with the correct data logger device.
Data Logger Don’ts
1 – Ignore Low Memory Warnings
Although the average data logger can record a great deal of information for an extended period, if you allow it to do so you risk running out of memory. Your device won’t reach the end of the memory available, but it will start to overwrite on top of data collected from the beginning of the memory. In other words, the memory is stored in a loop fashion with the oldest information always being replaced with newer data. To prevent that, it is important for you to download data often.
2 – Choosing Not To Use Data Loggers
If your industry relies on technical parameters that can only be accurately recorded by a data logger, you need to have them on site. Using the cost of the equipment and time required to analyze the information collected as reasons to not enter the world of data logging is likely going to cost your business more from inventory loss than the cost of the data logger. If temperature and humidity are essential for storing products in your facility, a data logger is a good investment that will reduce losses.
3 – Using Just One Unit
Depending on the size of the space to be monitored, chances are that you may need more than one data logger. This is of particular importance if several zones, each with a different type of condition, need to be monitored. Fortunately, data loggers work together and are available in many different styles. This means you could set up your system with a main unit and a series of smaller ones. Trying to get the job done with just one unit is not very efficient in this situation.
Data monitors serve a great purpose in today’s world of technology. They provide an extremely accurate means of measuring and documenting various conditions in closed environments. When those conditions must remain within specific parameters, the precision tools that track temperature, humidity and other conditions can help prevent spoilage and other forms of waste. If your business deals with products that require ongoing monitoring, you cannot afford to not have data loggers working for you.