Environmental monitoring is a key component of industrial best practices. Production lines, storage facilities, warehouses—all such places often require consistency in temperature, humidity, or pressure to safeguard raw ingredients, finished product, or manufacturing processes. To keep costs down, prevent waste, assure a finished and safe product, and stay in compliance with regulations, you need to ensure that your industrial environment has its conditions monitored and recorded. This article takes a look at three main tools used to track and record a plant or industrial site’s environmental conditions.
1 – Chart Recorders
Chart recorders are electromechanical devices that record electrical or mechanical data on paper. Chart recorders can track and record several different types of data and differentiate the data records by using differently colored ink on paper, making it easy for you to see how a particular environmental variable is (or isn’t) changing. Three basic paper formats are used by chart recorders.
Strip Chart Recorders
A strip chart recorder puts data on a long strip of paper that emerges from the recorder as it’s used by the recorder. This chart recorder doesn’t require frequent paper replacement.
Circular Chart Recorder
A more compact recorder, the circular chart recorder uses a rotating round disc of paper to record data. It uses the paper fairly swiftly, so you’ll need to replace it frequently. A circular chart recorder is also enclosed with its visible chart behind glass.
Roll Chart Recorders
A roll chart recorder is similar to the strip chart recorder but has one major difference. The recorded data is stored on a round roll of paper rather than being ejected as it’s being used. In addition, roll chart recorders are typically fully enclosed in some type of housing.
How A Chart Recorder Works
Chart recorders contain either a clockwork or an electrical drive mechanism. This drives the paper past the marking pen(s) at a constant rate. The marking pens plot the values being measured through the recorder’s sensor on its paper. Chart recorders are commonly used to track conditions like temperature, humidity, and pressure. They are used in various other applications too; in fact, early strip chart recorders were once the recording standard in the healthcare industry.
2 – Data Loggers
According to Dickson, data loggers are electronic devices designed to record environmental data over time. They use either a built-in sensor or an external sensor to gather the sampling data and store it in internal memory. These portable devices transmit that data for analysis to one of several sites you can choose from: a cloud-based site, a server, a smart device, or a computer. Data loggers are typically small in design, battery-operated, and can be used in several different applications, including:
Temperature Data Loggers
A temperature data logger uses a sensor to record the temperature. Depending on the application, the probe may record indoor temperatures. Other types of probes enable you to record extreme temperatures and underwater temperatures
Humidity Data Loggers
A humidity data logger records the relative moisture content in the air. This logger is commonly used in healthcare, the food and beverage industry, and medical device and manufacturing industries.
Pressure Data Loggers
Pressure data loggers measure gauge, atmospheric, and vacuum pressure. Additional models measure differential pressure. These data loggers are used in the pharmaceutical and food processing industries.
CO2 Data Loggers
Data loggers also monitor CO2 levels. Typically used in industries where air quality is a concern, CO2 data loggers are often implemented as part of an HVAC system.
Open/Close Data Loggers
This type of data logger monitors doors and openings. Some manufacturing plants and pharmaceutical settings require doors to remain closed (or open). An open/close data logger tracks door activity and sends an alert if a door is open or closed longer than it should be.
How A Data Logger Works
A data logger is easy to understand and operate. Once you input the parameters of the environment you’re monitoring, such as how often to sample and what to sample, you can just leave the data logger alone for as long as there is battery power operating the device. The data logger gathers and stores information about the conditions it’s monitoring, with accuracy far greater than a human’s. In addition, you can place data loggers in places unsafe for humans, such as oxygen-free areas, specific types of furnaces, and so on. The greatest benefit of using a data logger is that you can download its information several ways, making analysis and reporting much easier. Industries that typically use data loggers include healthcare, aerospace, medical device, food and beverage as well as manufacturing.
3 – Replaceable Sensors
When your business needs continuous monitoring of conditions, make sure you have replaceable sensors in stock for your data logger. Sensors convey information to the data logger on temperature, pressure, humidity—whatever environmental conditions you need to monitor. But sensors can lose accuracy over time. As a result, they need regular calibration as part of a maintenance program for your data loggers.
Ensuring you have on hand a supply of replacement sensors means you’ll minimize downtime while the sensors are being calibrated. This helps guarantee the ongoing reliability of the data you’re collecting—a crucial element of ensuring compliance in heavily-regulated industries. Having replaceable sensors permits a quick change should a sensor become faulty. Also, it’s wise to use a replaceable sensor when you are calibrating existing sensors to prevent data loss from occurring.
New technology has changed the way we do everything, including how we monitor conditions on our shop floors, labs, warehouse, incubators, and more. Tools like chart recorders, data recorders, and replaceable sensors record and track temperature, humidity, pressure, differential pressure, and so much more with accuracy and ease. Free of both human error and bias, these devices are an important component of our best practices, especially in highly regulated industries.