Data Logging- A Guide

Do you require a method to record critical information, such as temperature, pressure, or voltage, but don’t know where to start? The Application Engineers at CAS DataLoggers have assembled this short overview to help guide you through the fundamentals of data loggers and how they can be used to simplify the data collection methods within your organization.

What is a Data Logger?

A data logger, otherwise referred to as a datalogger, is an electronic device that records and logs data values, often without the need for a PC. These days, many data loggers are compact and inexpensive. Dataloggers can either be single input devices or they can accept inputs from multiple sensor types.

Some loggers possess built-in sensors whilst others possess connections for external sensors. Data loggers possess an internal memory, internal clocks for creating time/date stamps, and can also feature an LCD display. A datalogger often possesses an internal battery and a sample rate of once per second or slower, as well as an internal memory that can store thousands or millions of measurements.

A simple temperature and humidity data logger can be placed at a point of interest to measure data which can be retrieved at a later date via a USB connection. A more complex datalogger may possess Ethernet, Wi-Fi or cellular modem capabilities that enables real-time monitoring and alerting for out of tolerance (alarm) environments to take place.

This feature allows you to react to the recording data instead of just measuring and storing the data. By using network connected dataloggers, the automatic transfer of data to a network realizes both labor savings and greater convenience.

A lot of data loggers also possess alarm capabilities that alert you whenever the measurements exceed the user-defined limits. Data loggers are a lot more reliable and accurate than recording the parameters manually and free up labor that can be utilized in other areas.

Advantages of a Data Logger

In terms of reliability, accuracy and cost over manual measurements, data loggers offer many advantages:

Manual Measurements Data Loggers
Personnel often forget to check or write down Automatic data collection
Human error in reading or recording Accurate readings
Paper records are easy to lose Electronic record
Data from paper record is difficult to analyze Software makes it easy to view and analyze data
No way to set alarm for out of tolerance values Alarm notification for out of tolerance values

 

First off, they are more reliable and accurate than manual measurements, and this makes data loggers a useful option for saving personnel time that could be spent doing more useful things, rather than taking down every single measurement on paper. Regardless of whether you have a short- or long-term issue to tackle, data loggers can provide you with an automated solution for both monitoring and logging information.

As previously mentioned, data loggers can also send you alarms through email, SMS message or even landline phone calls! This is an important feature if you must be alerted to any issues on a business-critical piece of equipment or process (such as an assembly line, boiler tank, etc.). This can aid in avoiding a potentially-catastrophic process delay or shut down!

Data loggers can also perform duties in a ‘standalone,’ fashion, i.e. by themselves without the need for human input, so they are an excellent solution for many businesses and healthcare centers. They can also be used for extended time periods across various applications, by simply running on battery power alone.

Why Use a Data Logger?

A common application for a datalogger is to measure and monitor the temperature of a designated product or environment, such as a refrigerator that stores vaccines. The data logger will continue to work 24/7, including over the weekend and outside of the standard work hours when there are no staff available to perform the measurements.

Data loggers are also employed to perform more complex tasks, such as recording the data from multiple sensors in machines used for diagnostic purposes or to identify scenarios where energy savings could be made.

Another key reason to consider using a data logger is to comply with the requirements set by regulatory agencies, be it the FDA’s FSMA, HACCP for best practices, or an alternative mandate. Data loggers record the product’s temperature data which can then be used in electronic documentation to prove to inspectors and auditors that your product and/or environment was kept within the required safe parameters.

What Do You Need to Measure?

Now ask yourself, “What type of data do I need to record?”

The most common response is temperature, but what if you also need to record the humidity, or what if you need to measure both the temperature and levels of carbon dioxide? Luckily, there are many instruments available in the marketplace that possess internal or external sensors to record the data you need.

While some data logger models have been designed to just record a single measurement value, such as temperature, there are many models that can record two or more data types. CAS DataLoggers provide a range of data logger solutions for the following signal input types: temperature, relative humidity, voltage/current, pressure, pulse count/event/state, frequency, serial communications, and more.

Easy Data Retrieval

Usually, data loggers save their measurements onto either a memory card or other type of internal memory storage that the data can be conveniently retrieved. More complex models can also automatically send the data via your choice of communications. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Ethernet
  • Wi-Fi
  • Cellular Modem
  • Wireless
  • Bluetooth

How Do I Set Alarms?

Today’s technology provides you with various options of how you’d prefer to receive alarms.

For example, an alarm notification can be composed of anything; this can range from bright LED indicators and audible alerts, to data loggers that possess external alarm outputs which are connected to sirens, horns, etc. More complex models can send you an automated email or SMS text alarm direct to your smartphone or tablet, which ensures that always become notified when there are critical changes in your product or process.

The data logger’s software handles the alarm setup and other configuration details.

So…How Technical Do I Need to Be?

Good news—most data loggers are very simple to operate! Very simple loggers, such as shipping temperature loggers, already come pre-programmed; all that needs to be done, is simply push a button, or remove a pull tape, to start the recording process.

Other data loggers which provide changeable settings will often use Windows-based software to perform the setup and configuration protocols. Just connect your data logger to a computer and follow the easy-to-use configuration wizard and choose your recording rate and start time—all this usually takes a few clicks of the mouse.

As many data loggers are designed with a simple operation in mind, they often require minimal to no maintenance or involvement from the IT department. This makes them ideal for use in almost every industry and application area.

The Data Logger Experts

When you are searching online for the ideal data logger, you want to be sure that the logger itself can perform the functions you require for your specific application. Therefore, it is imperative that you work with a company that knows the right questions to ask to ensure that the product you purchase meets your needs.

This includes (but is not limited to) choosing the correct number of channels/inputs for all your measurement points, the right communication options, and software features. For example, if a requirement is to chart or trend data for future presentations, you need to ensure that you specify this when conversing with a solutions provider.

You can find a lot of data logger manufacturers and distributors online, so you need to ensure that you consult with an experienced distributor. While data loggers are simple to use, you won’t become stuck if there’s a free technical support number on hand to call if you encounter a problem, especially if it is your first time using a data logger.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by CAS DataLoggers.

For more information on this source, please visit CAS DataLoggers.

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