Data loggers are electronic devices that measure and log critical data (such as temperature, pressure, humidity, or voltage) over an extended period of time. They are typically portable, compact, and, nowadays, represent part of the state-of-the-art Internet of Things (IoT) technology. That means they’re connected to the internet and can transmit their data wirelessly to the cloud, allowing real-time access and remote quality control management.
Data loggers play an increasingly important role in many different industries, including pharmaceutical, healthcare, food, and aerospace. Their range of uses is so vast and diverse that they make sense for a broad spectrum of applications, from monitoring vaccine temperature to managing a building’s indoor air quality.
Our goal is to help you understand what data loggers are, how they work, and what industries are currently using this data logging technology. That’s why we’ve put together a list of five unique ways in which data loggers are being utilized in 2021.
1- Covid-19 vaccine monitoring
Most traditional vaccines, including immunization shots for seasonal flu, are typically kept at normal refrigerator temperatures of between +2°C and +8°C, both during transit and storage. These requirements are, of course, essential for protecting vaccine safety and effectiveness – especially when community health is on the line.
However, the majority of vaccines currently approved by the US and other countries worldwide for emergency use against Covid-19 require much lower storage and transportation temperatures. They’re needed to make sure their sensitive ingredients are stable and potent, creating a huge logistical hurdle for the cold-chain transport the vaccines need.
For instance, the mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and the German biotech firm BioNTech needs to be shipped in thermal cold-boxes kept at between -80°C and -60°C. According to recent CDC vaccine guidelines, once they arrive at last-mile distribution and administration centers, they can be stored while thawed and unmixed in a freezer at -25°C to -15°C for up to 14 days.
Earlier this year, Pfizer sought FDA approval for extended storage of its vaccine at standard refrigerator temperatures. Accordingly, the FDA allowed Pfizer- BioNTech vaccine vials to be stored in a medical refrigerator at temperatures of 2°C to 8°C for up to 31 days, up from the previous five days, as highlighted by the Time Magazine.
It doesn’t matter if the Covid-19 vaccine is stored in a refrigerator, standard freezer, or ultra-cold freezer; the CDC recommends regularly monitoring storage temperatures to detect any potential temperature excursions. It further states that temperatures must be checked and logged at least at the start of each workday, helping administrators and regulators determine if any excursions have occurred since the last check.
More importantly, the CDC requires the use of digital data loggers (DDLs) with detachable probes to measure the temperatures of the vaccine itself. For ultra-cold storage, DDLs designed for these deep-freezing conditions must be used.
Most digital data loggers integrate into a more comprehensive cloud-based system that enables vaccine handlers to monitor conditions proactively. In this way, they can detect, report, and quickly remedy any inappropriate storage conditions and excursions.
2- Effective monitoring of energy efficiency
Being environmentally conscious is top of mind for every socially responsible organization—and for those that aspire to that. From startups to Fortune 500 companies like Nike, many companies are looking for ways to cut their carbon footprints and go green. Of course, they also want to save money and protect their bottom lines.
Modern data loggers can help organizations realize both objectives. This is especially true when they are utilized to manage, monitor, and document energy efficiency in office buildings, production environments, and other facilities. For instance, the next generation of digital data loggers can monitor efficiency, energy consumption, and power usage of air quality control systems like HVAC units.
Monitoring energy efficiency is mandatory in some industries, such as the healthcare and medical device sectors. In such cases, data loggers can be integrated into a cloud-based monitoring system to generate documentation for complying with regulatory requirements and passing industry audits. At the same time, they can help organizations conform to energy efficiency standards, such as ISO-50001.
3- Planning smart cities
With IoT technology at the forefront, the effects of Industry 4.0—the so-called fourth industrial revolution–are being felt almost everywhere in our daily lives. But it’s not just companies taking advantage of cutting-edge data logging technologies; local, state, and federal government agencies are also utilizing data loggers for urban planning and optimizing service delivery.
Governments are using data loggers to collect, log, and document huge volumes of accurate and valuable data when it comes to urban planning. And, by using intelligent analytics tools, they can generate actionable reports and insights for better, more informed decision making.
For instance, data loggers are being used to monitor traffic on highways and major transport networks, enabling state and local governments to gain insights into when and how roads within their jurisdictions are used. In turn, this helps them plan for major road expansion, maintenance, and management projects.
4- Healthcare environmental monitoring
With so many lives on the lines, it’s little wonder that the healthcare sector has a vast array of applications for data loggers. They can be used in a variety of settings, from medical device manufacturing to running hospitals.
When used correctly, data loggers can improve patient outcomes and support compliance with FDA regulatory requirements. The benefits are tremendous, including improved asset protection in laboratories, blood banks, operating rooms, procedure rooms, and storage spaces for mission-critical materials like drugs, vaccines, and blood.
Having data loggers installed as a part of a comprehensive environmental monitoring system doesn’t just help meet mandatory regulations. They can also be configured to generate real-time notifications should conditions fall out of a desired range.
5- Food and beverage supply chain monitoring
Data loggers are used in the food and beverage industries in various settings, including commercial kitchens, storage areas, refrigerated transportation, and production. They are also heavily involved in retail and grocery operations, where data loggers help document and monitor temperature, differential pressure, humidity, and other variables.
According to Dickson, environmental data loggers can help businesses dealing with food meet Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and FDA regulations. Best of all, they play a critical role in ensuring internal quality control standards.
For instance, both raw and cooked perishable foods, like meat, need to be kept within specific temperature ranges to remain safe for human consumption. Constant temperature monitoring is also crucial to adhere to applicable regulations.
There you have it – five unique ways data loggers are being utilized this year. Vaccine cold chain monitoring, healthcare monitoring, and smart city planning are only a few examples of the potential uses of data loggers.