The cold chain and digital data loggers are two things you might not know or think about much. These are processes and technologies that we take for granted even though they affect many aspects of our lives.
Digital data loggers are devices that record data. They play a very important role in the cold supply chain, or just the cold chain. The cold chain, in turn, plays an important role in all our lives, especially in 2021.
Here is what you need to know about data loggers and why they are a critical cold chain tool.
What Is a Digital Data Logger?
A digital data logger is a small, electronic device that can be used to record, store, and possibly transmit (depending on the type) large amounts of data. There are all types of digital data loggers that record all types of data. They can record data on everything from force and vibration to water levels to the number of cars that pass by a specific point on a roadway.
One of the most common ways digital data loggers are used is for environmental monitoring. Within the field of environmental monitoring digital data loggers are primarily used in the cold chain. They can measure temperature, humidity, pressure, or other environmental conditions.
Digital data loggers these days are often part of the Internet of Things (IoT), which means that they are internet-connected and can transmit their data to a central location or provide customized alerts to mobile devices.
What Is a Cold Chain and Why Does It Matter?
The cold chain is how temperature-sensitive products get from Point A to Point B (and often Points C, D, and E). It is the journey that these products take from their production, distribution, and storage before they are used or bought by consumers.
The cold chain matters because it helps keep consumers safe. Highly regulated industries use the cold chain most often. The reason certain industries are highly regulated is because they produce products that can lose effectiveness or become unsafe if they are not kept in certain environmental conditions.
If this happens to a product, whether or not it is unsafe or ineffective is generally not detectable by the human eye. That is why regulations that make companies use the cold chain to get products safely into the hands of consumers are so important.
Food and beverages are one example of an industry that heavily uses the cold chain. If meat, for example, is processed, distributed, or stored in warmer than prescribed conditions, bacteria can develop and lead to the consumer getting a foodborne illness.
Another example of the importance of the cold chain can be ripped right from the headlines in 2021. The two first and most prevalent COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna both have to be kept at very cold temperatures until they are administered to patients. This is because of the sensitive biological material from which they are made, messenger RNA (mRNA).
The cold chain made mass distribution of these vaccines possible around the US and around the world. Environmentally monitored labs, cold production facilities, refrigerated trucks, and specialty designed deep-freeze storage freezers are utilized to get the vaccine out.
How Digital Data Loggers Benefit the Cold Chain
Digital data loggers are utilized in every aspect of the cold chain. These sensors help map and monitor environmental conditions in all sorts of ways and help the cold chain work more effectively and efficiently. Here are just a few of the ways that data loggers benefit the cold chain.
Digital data loggers help create temperature maps
One of the ways that digital data loggers are most helpful for the cold chain is that they allow for a comprehensive temperature (or thermal when you add humidity) map of an area. This allows the organization doing the monitoring to get a clear picture of how the temperature in a space reacts to changing conditions and in emergencies.
It allows these organizations to set up long-term temperature monitoring and put both standard operating procedures and contingency plans in place.
Digital data loggers allow the cold chain to be monitored remotely
In the cold chain, you get the most benefit from the latest and greatest technology. It helps to have up-to-date data loggers compatible with remote monitoring software, as Dickson addresses here. This allows you to set up a remote monitoring system within which you can keep an eye on the environmental conditions from miles away and with fewer people.
This innovation saves companies lots of money on manpower and allows them to react to changing conditions quicker than ever which helps safeguard asset loss.
Digital data loggers send alerts when things go wrong
Internet-connected digital data loggers don’t just transmit to a central location, they can transmit right to your hip pocket. Customized alerts can be sent to a mobile device making it quicker and easier to find out when there is a temperature control issue.
As with remote monitoring, alerts go a long way towards helping avoid unsafe conditions that can lead to asset loss, or worse, releasing unsafe products that hurt consumers and become a legal and PR nightmare for a company.
Digital data loggers can monitor on a package level
With small, Bluetooth-enabled digital data loggers, organizations can monitor more than just a large space in the cold chain. They can monitor individual shipments and even packages. These tiny devices can be slipped into each package within a shipment to give people monitoring the products the most accurate and granular data possible.
We all use products that go through the cold chain every day. This process helps keep us safe and gives us confidence in the products we use. It also helps save companies that use the cold chain money, which helps to keep down prices as well.
Digital data loggers are a critical cold chain tool that helps drive this process. They assist with temperature mapping, remote monitoring, customized alerts, and precise monitoring. Any organization not using the latest digital data loggers in their cold chain process is missing out on an easy way to stay compliant with industry regulations.