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13 considerations: Choosing temperature mapping data loggers

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An important part of preparing for a temperature mapping study is choosing the right type and amount of temperature mapping equipment – primarily the right data loggers. Here are 13 things you should consider in the process.

Also read: The secrets of effective and reliable temperature mapping

13 considerations when choosing data loggers and other temperature mapping equipment

  1. Installation: What is the level of difficulty of installation and will you need technical expertise? Complex installations may require specialized training or outside contractors, adding to both cost and project timelines.

  2. Accuracy: How precise do the measurements for your mapping need to be? How narrow are your acceptance criteria? The accuracy can range from 2°C to approximately 0.05°C depending on the use.

  3. Response time: How is the response time? Slow response time will artificially buffer fluctuating data, which will impact the data received. Delays in response times can compromise the integrity of your data and affect decision-making.

Also read: 4 key players you should include in your temperature mapping study

  1. Internal or external sensor: Is it an internal or external sensor? An internal sensor creates an air buffer that affects the measurements meaning that the highest and lowest temperatures might not be recorded. Therefore, I recommend external sensors since they are located in free space.

  2. Materials: Stainless steel or plastic? When you are deciding between stainless steel and plastic, you have to think about your specific needs and the environment in which the data logger will be used. Stainless steel is robust, durable, and better for high-temperature environments. If you are working in an ATEX area—a location where an explosive atmosphere is present—then stainless steel is likely your go-to. On the flip side, plastic is more cost-effective but may not hold up well in extreme conditions. So, ask yourself: What does your space demand?

  3. Logging frequency: What is the minimum frequency you require to log? For freezers, you usually want something between a 10-second to a 3-minute logging interval. The idea is to capture enough data without overwhelming your system. Missing the boat on logging frequency can leave you with gaps in your data, making your temperature mapping less reliable.

  4. Memory size: Data is gold. But storing it? That can be another story. In the mapping case, running out of memory is a no-go, so think about how many logs/data points you need to be able to record for your specific mapping. Too little memory, and you’re stuck with incomplete or truncated data, which can mess up your analysis. Check the specs and make sure the logger’s memory size aligns with your objectives.

  5. Range: Will you be mapping a warehouse, a standard fridge, or a -80°C freezer? When it comes to data loggers for temperature mapping, the range is more than just a number. Whether you’re looking at a sprawling warehouse or a tiny, sub-zero freezer, your logger needs to cover it all. A logger designed for a standard fridge won’t cut it in a -80°C environment. Know your extremes—both hot and cold—and make sure your logger can handle them.

  6. Calibration: Do the data loggers come with a certificate documenting that they have been calibrated within a reasonable timespan?

Also read: 8 calibration components you should have ready for an audit of temperature compliance

  1. Battery: How’s the battery lifetime? You don’t want to be forced to redo the study because the battery fails.

  2. Compliance: You are (most likely) in the life sciences industry; you know the drill. Compliance isn’t just a boring checkmark; it is vital. Make sure your data logger meets the relevant standards and regulations specific to your market. This can range from ISO certifications to FDA guidelines, depending on where you operate. Is your logger up to code?

Also read: 7 questions about obtaining FDA 21 CFR Part 11 compliant temperature monitoring in pharma

  1. Software: Is the software suitable for documentation, reporting, and review? Is it 21 CFR Part 11-ready, and can you meet your URS, Installation Qualification (IQ), and Operational Qualification (OQ)? Ensure it is flexible enough to apply calculations and process complex data. Some software also provides clear graphical data by compiling all data loggers in one graph.

  2. Support: Is support available if you need help completing the mapping study? It might not be relevant, but it’s something that some equipment providers offer.

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