Data loggers are devices that collect data by taking physical or electrical readings from external or internal sensors over an extended period. They’re an ideal way to monitor, record and alarm temperature and other measurement values, removing the need for personnel to spend time taking measurements themselves.
We answer some helpful questions and offer seven ways in which you can save money and time by using automated data collection.
What does a data logger do?
Data loggers are an ideal way to record temperature, humidity, current/voltage and many other types of data. If you need to log more than one measurement value or analyze the data in detail, there are many multichannel models available for your specific needs.
Additionally, intelligent data loggers (more on these later) can even perform command functions, such as telling a PLC to shut off at a certain time. For example, Series 3 dataTaker data loggers feature universal input channels to connect with almost any sensor type.
Why use a data logger?
Data loggers are typically used to monitor furnace/process temperature, particularly on the weekend or outside of work hours. However, data loggers are also used for more complex tasks such as recording data from machines for diagnostic purposes or to identify areas for energy savings.
Another major reason to use a data logger is to comply with specifications such as CQI-9, Nadcap and AMS 2750. Data loggers document product temperature data for use in electronic documentation, proving to inspectors and auditors that your heat-treat process maintained the required temperature tolerance.
Broadly speaking, industrial temperature-monitoring data loggers can be divided into two categories.
- Single-input data loggers are designed to measure one specific parameter, such as temperature. These loggers are available with one to eight channels and are ideal for simple applications where cost is a concern.
- Universal-input data loggers are available with channel capacity in the hundreds. Combined with their ability to accept multiple sensor types, they can be used to record data from multiple points on a piece of equipment or within a process.
What do you need to measure?
Now ask yourself, “What type of data do I need to measure?” Most commonly, the answer is temperature. But what if you need to log humidity instead, or what if you need to log both temperature and carbon dioxide levels? Fortunately, there are a wide variety of devices on the market with internal or external sensors to measure whatever data you need.
While some data-logger models are designed to log just one measurement value, such as temperature, there are models recording two, three or more types of data. For example, data loggers are available for the following types of signal inputs: temperature, relative humidity, voltage/current, pressure, event/state, frequency, PH, pulse, serial and more.
How can data loggers save costs?
- Remote notification/alarms via email or text message
- Ability to trigger actions from external events (i.e., PLC, SCADA)
- Ability to measure most types of sensors using only one device
- Stand-alone operation allows it to log on by itself.
- Local alarm outputs to notify operators or to trigger other equipment
- Gauge worker and machine productivity by shift, week or month
- Gather data on your industrial process. For example, heat-treatment processes can improve process quality by using temperature data to create furnace temperature profiles.
Remote Alarms Save Your Products
By continually monitoring product temperature, data loggers ensure that you will get an e-mail or text alarm the instant that your process goes outside designated temperature tolerances. This feature alone can pay for the logger by helping to avoid a disastrous loss of product or a costly process delay.
How technical do I need to be?
Good news! Most data loggers are easy to use. Data loggers typically use Windows-based software to handle setup and configuration. Simply connect your data logger to a PC, follow the simple configuration wizard, and pick your recording rate and start time. All of this normally just takes a few mouse clicks.
Designed for simple operation, many compact data loggers require minimal to no maintenance or IT department involvement. That makes them ideal for use in nearly every industry and application.
Easy Data Retrieval
Typically, data loggers save their measurements to a memory card or flash stick for convenient retrieval. More advanced models can also transfer the data automatically over your choice of communications. These include but are not limited to:
- Cellular modem
- FTP (file transfer protocol)
- Cloud storage servers
Intelligent Data Loggers
Today’s intelligent loggers also incorporate the ability to perform calculations on the measured values. This can be as simple as calculating and recording the difference between two measured values – for example, the temperature of fluid coming into and flowing out of a heat exchanger or integrating the output of a flow-rate sensor to compute total flow volume. Combining this with flexible scheduling capabilities enables an intelligent data logger to capture instantaneous flow rate plus flow volume totalized on an hourly, daily, weekly and/or monthly basis. Of course, this could be done in a spreadsheet, but wouldn’t it be much easier to download a file once a month that already had all the data summarized in a form ready for presentation or archiving?
Finally, a very powerful feature of intelligent data loggers is flexible alarm programming. While many data loggers allow simple alarms based on whether a value is above or below a preset limit, intelligent data loggers provide greatly expanded capabilities including alarms that are based on the value of multiple inputs, rate of change of an input, calculated values, time of day or a combination of all of these. These alarms can do much more than simply throw up a flag. They can enable
or disable other measurements, turn one or more outputs on or off, send an email or text, or change the operating mode of the logger.
By using the capabilities of a modern intelligent data logger, it is possible to minimize the amount of raw data that must be manually analyzed and to maximize actionable data that contains the essential information that the user was after when they installed the logger. Alarms can be configured to provide immediate notification of out-of-limit conditions while minimizing the number of false trips.
How do you get started?
We work every day with callers to provide them with the ideal solution for their businesses. We want to help you select the most appropriate product for your application, no matter what field. Free technical support is also standard on all of our products.