When it comes to choosing a data logger, you have many options and even more factors to consider. How do you know what to look for, and how can you be sure that you are making the right choice? We recommend the following 4 steps, which will help guide you to becoming a PR2O at selecting the data logger that you need:
How are you going to be using your data logger? First and foremost, you want to make sure that the logger you choose is going to be able to meet the temperature ranges that your process requires for the appropriate amount of time it takes, and be resistant to chemicals and materials it may be exposed to. You should consider the process the logger is being used to measure and the environment it will be in. For example, if there are chemicals in your process, you need to have a logger that is safe to use in them. Certain ambient ranges, such as 0-85 degrees Celsius versus extended temperature ranges, are going to influence your decision-making as well. Do you need humidity or pressure measurements, or other types of measurements from your process? These are good questions to consider when finding a logger that is right for your process.
There are two big questions to consider here. First, will the data logger physically fit where you need it in your process? Real-time data loggers are larger due to the necessity of a radio transmitter that is embedded into the logger. Broadcasting over wireless requires more battery life as well, so this means a larger battery will be used. Everyone can benefit from using a real-time data logger in their process, if it fits. If it does, the next question you need to consider is whether or not you actually do need real-time monitoring. Sometimes, loggers can be better for quality control purposes because they give you data at the end of a process. For example, for shorter cooking times, autoclaves and deep fryers, the process could take 15 minutes or less and you can check the data at the end. Any process that cannot be affected or shut down midstream may not need real-time data logging; however, some applications may still require the data to be monitored every 5 seconds. Ask yourself, if you could get the data right away, would that help you? Would you be able to make a decision that would immediately save you money? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you should consider real-time data loggers.
What features do you need? You need to consider whether you need to view phases on a graph, or simply have a basic report with data on it. The report may need to include security summaries on information such as which user performed the report and who signed off on it. The requirements could be based on compliance or regulations, or internal policies. We suggest doing some research prior to looking into the reporting features to understand what you need to look for. Take a look at what is currently being done for reporting. For example, are you currently using Excel or another software, and is it sufficient? You may need to gather calculations like lethality, steam pressure or steam temperature. If your current software is not capable of doing this, then you may be post-processing this data into Excel. Replacing your current data logging system with one that can perform all of this post-processing for you will yield a much higher efficiency by not needing to do this separately.
How frequently are you going to need to collect your data? This will be dependent upon the process you are monitoring, but you may need to collect the data every second, or every hour. The process time will help determine the frequency of the monitoring. For example, some warehouse studies can last anywhere from 48 hours up to 14 days, so you may only need the data every hour. This also means you may be able to collect almost 2 or 3 months’ worth of data with only one logger! In short, the longer the process is, the longer the time between collection points can be, and inversely, the shorter the process, the more frequent your data collection will need to be.
There are a lot of elements that can affect your decision on a data logger that is the right choice for you, but remember the PR2O method and you will find the decision-making process goes much more smoothly: Process, Real-Time, Reporting and Observation Frequency! Mesa has experts available that can help guide you on your way to becoming a PR2O at choosing the data logger that is a right fit for you and your application.
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