Data loggers are the unsung heroes of many industries. These small, electronic devices are used to measure and record a wide range of information. Depending on an organization’s needs, these devices can be used to capture and monitor data on temperature, humidity, voltage, pressure, and more.
These devices are especially essential in highly regulated industries where quality control and environmental monitoring aren’t just suggested, they are required.
Data loggers help companies in these industries stay compliant by recording and oftentimes delivering real-time data on a specific data set that the organization needs to know. In some industries, only one data logger function is needed; in others, these devices need to offer a range of capabilities.
Here we’ll look at some of the most popular types of data loggers, what they do, and why different industries need them for environmental monitoring.
Why Data Loggers Are Needed
Data loggers are used in all types of different ways, in all types of different industries. Many organizations use them for environmental monitoring. To understand more about exactly how data loggers do this, here’s a quick breakdown of how data loggers work.
Data loggers are implemented in one of two basic ways when used for environmental monitoring. For general monitoring, data loggers take in environmental conditions through sensors then electronically process the information from those sensors into digital data.
That data can then be recorded on internal memory or, if the digital data logger is part of the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected to the internet, it can transmit that data to the cloud or another location. Bluetooth or IoT data loggers can also send alerts directly to a computer, phone, or tablet to let people know if conditions fall outside of s specified level.
Organizations also use data loggers for temperature or thermal (temperature and humidity) mapping. This process is used to set up an environmental monitoring program. Many data loggers are placed all around an area and they work together to record data that will provide a comprehensive map of the space and how conditions react to different environmental factors.
Let’s take a look at the major types of data loggers used in environmental monitoring.
This is the most prevalent form of data logger in environmental monitoring. For many industries, the temperature of materials and products is crucial. If these materials fall out of the approved temperature range, products can become ineffective or unsafe.
Environmental temperature monitoring is common in the pharmaceutical, medical device, aerospace, and food and beverage industries. In the pharmaceutical and food industries, data loggers may affect your life every day.
Temperature monitoring in the food industry helps keep food fresher longer. It also helps prevent the growth of bacteria and other contamination that can lead to foodborne illness. In the pharmaceutical industry, temperature monitoring has long been used to keep drugs safe and effective, but the temperature requirements of the COVID-19 vaccines truly put environmental monitoring into the spotlight in 2021.
Humidity often needs to be monitored along with temperature in many industries. Because of this, many data loggers are equipped to simultaneously monitor both factors, which saves space and money.
In the food industry, humidity is monitored for the same reasons as temperature because too much humidity can lead to bacterial growth, which in turn leads to foodborne illness. For this same reason, humidity is closely monitored in medical device manufacturing. If bacteria or other contaminants develop here, it can cause infection in patients who use the equipment.
Humidity can also affect the way certain compounds dry or harden. In an industry such as the aerospace industry, if a compound that joins two pieces doesn’t dry correctly, it can cause a catastrophic failure with serious consequences.
Air pressure data loggers are the third common type of data logger found in regulated industries. These sensors can be used to monitor airflow and pressure so that positive and negative pressure rooms can be created. These types of rooms are most often found in healthcare settings.
Positive pressure rooms keep the air pressure in a space higher than the pressure outside. It allows air to be forced out without recirculating it back into the room. This type of room is used in surgical suites where the contaminants that come out of a body during a procedure are swept out of the room so they cannot linger on the patient and possibly cause infection.
Negative pressure rooms do the exact opposite. These rooms have a lower air pressure so that the air in the room stays in the room and doesn’t filter out to the surrounding areas. This type of room is key when medical professionals want to isolate a patient (and the air around them) infected with an infectious disease.
This is one of the many other factors data loggers can monitor. In addition to voltage, you can find data loggers that monitor water levels of rivers and lakes or that record the pH level of soil for farmers.
Voltage is mentioned here because it is often used in manufacturing as are temperature, humidity, and pressure. When producing electronic appliances, voltage data loggers can measure how much electricity is being used by a product to make sure that level is safe and to tell the customer what the electrical use will be.
Temperature, humidity, pressure, and voltage data loggers are by no means the only types of data loggers. They are, however, the most common in highly regulated industries where environmental monitoring is critical, both for safety and compliance.
These data loggers help keep us all safe and allow the important people in these industries to do their jobs better. As data loggers become smaller, more accurate, more connected, and cheaper, the better organizations will be able to perform environmental monitoring. This is definitely a win for the institutions in these industries but, because it helps keep us all safe, it is a success for all of us.