How Data Loggers Record Temperature (And Why You Should Care)

Data loggers record temperature primarily using two different technology options. First is the thermistor, which is a resistor that changes resistance based on temperature and has been around for many years. They’re relatively reliable and have many practical uses basing their accuracy on a 3-point calibration.

The other solutions are digital sensors that are packaged in a microchip and come factory-calibrated to measure temperature with extreme accuracy. This sophistication allows a supply chain to capture critical temperature data in industries like Medical Device, Life Sciences, and Food. 

For these industries, fully validated products are a requirement. Patient safety becomes a risk when you’re shipping a vaccine or a heart monitor that is temperature-sensitive.

Premium digital NIST traceable sensors provide certification through more than just a 3-point calibration, guaranteeing accuracy across the entire sensing range. It relates back to the use of the Steinhart–Hart equation. The 3 identified points are used to calculate the A,B,C coefficients. Unlike the mechanical limitations of a data logger utilizing a standard thermistor, ATI’s LOG-IC 360 BT technology delivers guaranteed accuracy plus or minus a quarter degree.

What You Need to Know About MKT

MKT, or mean kinetic temperature, is the simplified way of expressing the overall effect of temperature fluctuations during storage or transit of perishable goods. That’s the simple explanation – it’s actually a highly complex equation that factors on the activation energy of the products to yield a simplified equivalent of temperature exposure.

Why is this important?

Here is an example:

  • A dozen eggs sat in a 20º C room for 2 hours
  • In 2º C refrigeration for 4 hours 
  • And on a 25º C loading dock for 1 hour 

Using MKT we can calculate that the temperature profile of the eggs was “thermally equivalent” to storing them at 15.7º C for 7 hours. 

In order to maintain the quality within the Pharmaceutical Industry, the FDA has approved MKT as a standard based on a number of various proposals, discussions and decades of efforts to identify product degradation. MKT takes into consideration temperature velocities (rates of change) based on the product and it’s exposure to various temperatures.  MKT also factors time and thermal mass into the equation. It’s a critically important and often underutilized factor based on industry. Not all data loggers actually display MKT which can provide inaccurate information about a shipment. An increase in loss product based on a lack of captured data, means a loss of confidence and revenue for your brand.

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How Data Loggers Connect the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

Data loggers work hand in hand with chemical indicators to bring invaluable insight and brand protection to your supply chain. Data loggers are typically used to monitor large packages and pallets, whereas chemical indicators might be used at the individual unit level within the pallet. 

This is especially important to monitor what’s called “the last mile,” or the final segment of the supply chain when the items are being delivered to the end-user. All too often, people take all the care and concern in the world to monitor the package until the last mile, which often gets overlooked. As a result, this is where you see most shipments lose their integrity when it comes to temperature and humidity exposure.

On a larger scale, data loggers connect the pharmaceutical supply chain with unlimited visibility and protection. Shipments can be scanned and the data uploaded for every single step of the journey, making sure that important things like medicine and vaccines are safe to consume. In a world where pharmaceuticals like this are shipped all over the globe every single day, the importance of data loggers has never been greater.

On top of that, medicine and other pharmaceuticals are obviously quite expensive so you can imagine how much money could be lost if even one pallot was exposed to extreme heat or humidity. Now scale that on the thousands of shipments all over the world and you can see how much of a financial investment data loggers are protecting.

Why Instant Insight is Critical

Data loggers, just like any other technology, have seen tremendous strides over the years in accessibility and sophistication. In the past, you’d have to pull the data logger out of the shipment, print the information on long reels of paper, and then communicate it to the invested parties over telephone or mail.

Now, with advances in technology, we’re able to use Bluetooth to pull the data without even opening the pallets and upload it instantly to the Cloud where people all over the world can review the information. 

This kind of instant access allows companies to be more proactive with decision making and saves them money in significant ways. For example, let’s say that a shipment is en route from California to New York and it gets to a checkpoint in Iowa. The data logger gets read and unfortunately reveals that it fell out of the required temperature range. With this insight, they’re able to stop the shipment right there instead of spending the money it would take to continue moving it all the way to New York. That’s a huge cost-saving opportunity! 

It also allows companies to prove their compliance with FDA regulations. If rules require that certain drugs need to be kept within a specific temperature range, data loggers give them the ability to prove that a shipment was never exposed to temperatures outside of that range for the entire length of the supply chain.

Read This before Buying Another Data Logger!


How Efficient is Your Supply Chain?

The more touch points that are in your supply chain, the more opportunities for a loss in efficiency because each of those introduces the possibility of human error, downtime, and exposure to extreme temperatures.

So, the first step in assessing the efficiency of your supply chain is to identify all the touchpoints which will help you increase your on-time delivery rate, compliance, and product efficacy. The more data you have on your supply chain, the better chance you have in increasing its efficiency.

Be honest, how automated is your current supply chain?

If you’re not using technology to pull data into one central resource, then you’re leaving that to be manually done by people on the supply chain. They’ll have to collect the data and email or call each other to pass it on to relevant parties. When it’s all automatically pulled into a hub that’s instantly accessible to all key stakeholders, everyone from manufacturing to logistics to shipping will be able to seamlessly track the shipment without interrupting the efficiency of the chain.

It’s every logistics manager’s nightmare to have one of their shipments sitting in a distribution center somewhere with no visibility to what’s going on. How long has it been there? When did it arrive? Is it being kept at the proper temperature range? Is there moisture? When will it go to its next destination?

Downtime like this can be absolutely disastrous for on-time deliveries, one of the most important metrics for the efficiency of a supply chain. More than that, it’s more cost-effective to have shipments arrive quickly and on time. When the product isn’t delivered to the end-user, you’re not making money on it.

Far too often, people are waiting for an email or for someone to check a product that was already checked six hours ago, but nobody knew that that was done because the data is not shared throughout the supply chain. There's a ton of that in the supply chain that can be efficiently eliminated if data is shared.

When that data isn’t shared and the supply chain isn’t optimizing at or near-optimal levels of efficiency, you’re going to run into quality problems that could hurt your brand reputation, and maybe even run into costly compliance issues.

ON-DEMAND WEBINAR: 4 Key Areas to Consider When Protecting the Quality of Your Pharmaceuticals

How Does Connectivity Assist in Supply Chain Risk Management?

There are many benefits of adding connectivity to your supply chain, but two that instantly become important for any business are visibility and traceability. That comes from having instant availability to data, which is connecting the dots between suppliers, manufacturers, logistics organizations, and all key stakeholders.

That type of connectivity allows Category Managers the ability to have an overarching view into customer safety, product integrity, product availability, and brand protection. From a brand perspective, it gives transparency to everyone involved that the product has been supported, managed, developed, designed, produced, and distributed correctly.

In a data-driven world, we manage by exception. When shipments arrive on time and when products work the way they’re supposed to, there’s no corrective action needed. It’s when things go poorly – AKA the exception – that we need to step in and make adjustments.

Just like with many other things, if you have to constantly oversee every little detail and micromanage, you don't get anything done. However, if you can manage just the data that is of concern, then you have the opportunity and the freedom to be much more productive and proactive.

This model allows Category Managers to focus their time and energy on more profitable endeavors, like enhancing their processes or developing new products. It’s also critical to have as few incidents as possible because brand integrity is on the line.

That’s why connectivity goes hand-in-hand with supply chain risk management.

If you have statistics around the performance of your supply chain through trend analysis, you can identify and anticipate where your vulnerabilities are. When your job is to make sure that your customers get the right product at the right time, that it’s packaged and priced correctly, and performs as expected, this type of insight is invaluable.  

That level of visibility into your supply chain will also give you real-time, data-driven insights. That’s actionable data that allows you to hone in on opportunities to streamline your supply chain, reduce inefficiencies, and increase profitability. If everything is going well and predictable, and you have confidence in your supply chain, you can turn your attention to growing the business instead of spending your time putting out fires.

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How Data Loggers Connect the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

Did you know that temperature has affected the healthcare industry for over 170 years? U.S. Physician, John Gorrie, built a refrigerator in 1844 to produce ice for cooling the air for yellow fever patients. According to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory, almost one third of all critical and major deficiencies uncovered in the storage and transportation of medicines relate to the control and monitoring of temperature.

With the rising complexity of development around personalized medications and biologics, temperature becomes even more critical. While there used to be a heavy focus on the 2°C to 8°C temperature range, the uniqueness of pharmaceuticals now ranges from cryogenic, frozen, chilled, to various controlled room temperatures (CRT’s) up to 40°C. With this wide range comes the need for customized time and temperature solutions than can monitor the product from manufacturing to delivery. The easy answer is data loggers!

Data loggers connect the Pharmaceutical Supply chain by providing digital data that can easily be used for tracking, analytics, trend analysis, and even the auditing process. Having digital temperature data at your fingertips for each temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical product is extremely powerful. There are never any questions as to what temperature and for what length of time each shipment was exposed to.

Even further, storing data in a centralized database not only ensures compliance but provides incredible insight to performance improvements in each distribution channel, shipping partner and packaging choice.

Data is imperative when shipping temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical products and the technology behind electronic data loggers is making it easier to connect key stakeholders within the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain.

Read This before Buying Another Data Logger!