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Not all data loggers are created equal. Here’s how to choose the right environmental data logging equipment for your needs.
So, you’ve recently discovered the benefits of environmental data loggers and thinking of adopting this innovative technology for your processes. However, this can be an intimidating task depending on your needs, especially if you don’t know much about data logging technology and the different types of products in the market.
Therefore, in this post, we’ll briefly walk readers through a data logger and how to choose the right environmental data logging equipment according to your requirements.
Table of Contents
What is an Environmental Data Logger?
A data logger is a small, electronic device that measures real-time information using sensors. It converts it into digital data, memory, or communication, which can be later retrieved and analyzed or directly transmitted to a central location.
The primary role of environmental data logging equipment is to ensure that critical processes are taking place within specified limits or according to regulatory compliance. Users can detect any issues and fix them to prevent failure and optimize efficiency using the data obtained.
Choosing the Right Environmental Data Logging Equipment
When purchasing environmental data logging equipment, you need first to consider what you need to monitor. Data loggers can measure several parameters from temperature to air pressure, voltage, humidity, count, carbon monoxide levels, pH, air quality, light, etc. A data logger can virtually measure any quantifiable parameter, so you have to choose one according to your applications and requirement.
For example, suppose you’re using it for commercial farming applications. In that case, you can opt for a weather station with a built-in data logger and use the data to plan irrigation based on soil moisture, monitor water levels in tanks and wells, and improve sowing, spraying, and harvesting.
Data loggers are built according to the environments they’re installed in. For example, submerged loggers need to be waterproof and rustproof, especially in saltwater conditions. Similarly, outdoor loggers need to be rugged and weatherproof to handle strong winds, rain, dust, and other adverse conditions.
Moreover, the environment will also determine which parameters the product is designed to prioritize. For instance, data loggers designed specifically for extreme heat and cold conditions typically have more powerful sensors than multi-purpose loggers.
Most environmental data loggers operate solely on battery power since they’re typically installed in remote, outdoor locations with rare on-site monitoring. In contrast, most indoor loggers rely on conventional power connections and come with a power adaptor.
Finally, some products offer the best of both worlds with dual power options. This way, they neither have to rely on the grid fully nor manually charge or change batteries as often.
Many manufacturing industries require real-time monitoring for managers to know if or when conditions change. For instance, temperature-controlled supply chains for food and pharmaceutical products use these devices to prevent temperature excursions outside their predefined ranges.
A great example of this is COVID-19 vaccines, especially Pfizer’s BioNTech, which needs to be stored at 2°C and 8°C (36°F and 46°F) so it doesn’t lose potency and become ineffective. Therefore many industries need loggers with alarming functionality, which can be as simple as a warning light, audio beepers, or email/SMS notifications, etc.
Monitoring data is just one of the two essential functions of a data logger. The other offers different ways to extract that collected data from the logger in several formats, such as a PDF file, CSV file, mobile app, or desktop software.
Environmental data logging equipment typically comes with four main types of connections – Wi-Fi, USB induction, Cellular network, or radio. However, many modern loggers offer other ways to connect, such as radio, Bluetooth, and Near Field Communication (NFC). Using Wi-Fi is a popular option, especially in indoor conditions.
These devices will automatically upload readings onto a physical or cloud-based server which you can view using your smartphone or computer. USB loggers are suitable for outdoor applications that don’t have reliable cell or Wi-Fi reception. They are excellent for businesses that require on-site monitoring, especially on farms.
And there you have it – how to choose the right environmental data logging equipment according to your requirement. Of course, other factors can influence your purchase decision, including the size, cost, number of input, display type, and brand. However, the factors mentioned above are crucial to ensure you cover the basics and buy a logger for your specific processes and operations. For instance, a data logger for farming differs from a data logger for manufacturing, so you need to be careful before splashing your cash.