For food, pharmaceutical, and other industries requiring cold chain logistics, monitoring temperatures is among their most critical tasks. After all, slight temperature changes can spell a product condition disaster, wasting resources, wrecking bottom lines and business partnerships.
The good news is: temperature data loggers can significantly minimize that risk with their robust functionalities.
In this guide, we will cover what data loggers are and how they can address common cold chain logistical issues.
Overview: Data loggers in the cold chain industry
A cold chain data logger, otherwise referred to as a temperature monitor or “tag,” is a portable electronic device that measures the immediate surroundings’ temperatures and other relevant data at predetermined time intervals and logs this information using internal storage for later transmission to centralized data systems.
Temperature data loggers are typically compact, fairly affordable, and must function reliably on their own – that is, without critical infrastructures such as fixed temperature probes and dedicated data networks. Loggers are vital in industries handling or requiring proper cold chain logistics, such as pharmaceutical and health companies, hospitals, packaging, food and beverage delivery and food processing.
Cold chain data loggers are usually classified into a few types.
1. QR temperature data loggers
This data logging device is one of the most modernized technologies, leveraging QR codes for businesses to know ambient temperatures and other company-relevant data. An example of this is Logmore’s cutting-edge dry ice temperature data loggers.
Theser devices use patented e-ink screens with dynamic QR codes, which update every time industries save a new measurement. Logmore’s QR data logger can store 20,000 data readings, accurate sensors, and multi-use button functionalities.
Through QR data loggers, businesses can easily capture, present, monitor, share data and perform on-the-go adjustments, particularly for extra-cold shipments.
2. Wireless temperature data loggers
This type of data logger also involves modern technologies integrating the efficient functionalities of electronic models. Subsets of this category include Bluetooth temperature data sensors (also known as beacons), radio frequency identification (RFID) loggers and those that connect via wireless internet.
These attributes, including their small and slender device sizes, make them practically easy for cold chain industries to use. Wireless temperature data loggers are also fully programmable and cable-free and even let companies track real-time conditions through multiple recorders at various locations.
This constructs an ecosystem comparable to a data-logging network. These loggers often require proprietary hardware for collecting signals, which are prone to connectivity disruptions, but they’ve been the industry standard for decades.
3. Mechanical temperature data loggers
The mechanical type of temperature monitor is a standalone piece of hardware. This means it does not require computers or any other equipment to make them work.
Mechanical temperature monitors gather data that businesses can print directly on paper in a strip chart format and encased within that data logger itself.
Professionals can also quickly activate these mechanical data loggers by pulling a tab. They can then remove the strip chart once they are prepared to study the gathered information.
4. Other electronic temperature data loggers
For supply chain analysts to work with electronic data loggers, they need to use a laptop or computer. They can also accomplish more with this type of temperature monitor than the mechanical ones. Like wireless data loggers, these electronic temperature data recorders are programmable and user-friendly.
One popular variant of this model is the USB logger, which can transmit data to centralized systems using cables, although in the case of sub-zero cold chain monitoring, the units generally need to be defrosted first. In most cases, businesses can select their desired interval readings or measurements, and the data loggers will document these conditions only for every X number of seconds or minutes.
Plus, with the support of special logbook software systems, companies can easily work with the documented information with their computers. They can then organize and examine the data and choose its presentation and reporting format.
How a data logger resolves cold chain logistical challenges
Temperature data loggers are exactly what technology businesses need to prevent logistical issues when handling refrigeration-required products.
Here’s how these devices resolve common challenges in cold chain logistics.
1. Constant monitoring to ensure conditions
Temperature data loggers help industries preserve their cold goods’ conditions, especially during transit. This is critical, because ambient temperatures can differ throughout the trip – such as when delivery vans hit the road at noon, drivers take their breaks, or when it begins raining.
The longer it takes to ship the item from the manufacturing area to the target client destination, the higher the risk of temperatures dropping or rising. If businesses do not ensure their products are still within the right temperature range, spoilage can occur, making the goods unfit and dangerous for consumption.
Temperature data loggers can prevent that through their constant and precise data documentation. Supply chain managers, manufacturers, buyers and vehicle drivers can check the records now and then, remain confident about their goods transportation operation, or know how to best manage temperature changes affecting their product conditions.
2. Immediate fluctuation alerts
Temperature data loggers, especially the advanced and electronic models, can quickly notify businesses of fluctuations in the temperature and other aspects of the goods’ ideal conditions.
These data loggers have precise sensors that can deliver information to the cloud or through SMS, phone calls or email. Businesses can receive instant alerts on critical events, such as cold chain breaches and rising or dropping temperatures.
This lets them contact their logistics teams, who can implement proper corrective measures, bring back ambient temperatures to the ideal ranges, and prevent product damage – or dispatch a replacement shipment.
3. Thorough documentation to circumvent disputes
While companies do all they can to prevent cold chain breaches and product spoilage, the risk of experiencing them is sometimes unavoidable. When that happens, logistics teams have to evaluate the incidents by checking the data loggers’ documentation for details, such as timestamps and geo-location data.
This helps them determine the causes and apply the necessary system adjustments to prevent cold chain breaches from reoccurring. Data logger documentation also helps resolve any related disputes and determine whether the breach initiated or happened on their end and how much they should pay for the losses in accordance with service level agreements.
In this sense, loggers represent effective tools for business activity monitoring (BAM) requirements. Likewise, logistical players can present valuable evidence for their liability claims when it comes to product mishandling and cold chain breaches.
4. Automated, streamlined reporting
Cold chain data loggers automatically measure and record temperatures, so businesses can prevent any documentation errors or miss proper recording schedules.
This helps their workforce concentrate better on other important tasks requiring human intervention.
Together with automated, precise readings on designated times and intervals, data loggers can generate helpful, easy-to-understand numerical and visual reports for analysis and sound decision making.
With these powerful capabilities, temperature data loggers can go far in helping industries address their most frequent logistical issues in every link of the cold chain.
By leveraging these devices, businesses can improve their operational efficiency, achieve maximum profitability, and keep client relationships from growing cold.
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