Archive for the ‘Products’ Category

How To Find The Best Company To Monitor Your Products

Posted on: February 20th, 2015 by Dickson No Comments

How To Find The Best Data Logger For You


 

Choosing a company to partner with you in order to help monitor your environment can be tedious and taxing. With multiple choices for every industry, and dozens of variables to consider (before even getting to the variables that you will monitor), the choices seem endless. So how do you narrow it down? We’ve built the following homework assignment that when completed, will get you through the process.

1. Take An Internal Assessment

Who are you?

The first question you need to answer is a reflective one: who are you? Answers to this question will be wide-ranging, and there isn’t a wrong answer, besides an unfilled blank. Maybe you are a beef jerky producer from Montana, or a nurse from Staten Island. Whatever the case, knowing who you are and what your application is will inform the rest of the answers in this section of the assignment, and your monitoring plan as a whole.

Why do you want to monitor your environment?

What’s your reason? Example answers may include, but are not limited to: My auditor said I had to, I am losing money from a dysfunctional cold chain, or I want to test a control group against a test group with a variable of the test being temperature. Again, for this question, no wrong answer. Just answer to the best of your ability.

Where will you be monitoring?

Are you monitoring inside a semi-truck? Inside two semi-trucks? Three? Or are you inside a warehouse, where you will need hundreds of data loggers? Answering this question and the next will allow you to move into Part 2 with enough information to start answering what kind of data logger, or data logging company, you want/need. Remember: location, location, location.

How much money do you have?

A little forward, sure. But, really, how much? If you are submitting a budget for the next year, maybe you hold off answering this question until you have created a product definition and tested out the market, but if you already have you budget set, take a look at it. Is it enough? Is it too much? If you are a large company, the cost of monitoring a variety of locations can bleed into the millions of dollars. If you just want to gage the temperature of your beef that is dry-aging in your mini-fridge, you probably don’t need too much cash.

2. Create A Product Definition

What variables do you need?

Step two! You made it! First question: what in the world is so important that you want to monitor it? Is it temperature? Temperature and humidity? Temperature, humidity and dew point? Mean Kinetic Temperature? What?! It’s time to create your product definition, and the easiest way is to eliminate products that don’t actually take and store the data that’s important to you.

What features do you need?

Data loggers seem to have an endless array of features, from the simple (display, battery backup, probe) to the robust (radio frequency, graphing capabilities, mobile apps). You need to start by making a list of essential things a data logger has to have in order for you to even consider it. Things like alarms, long battery-life, or display, may all fit onto that list.

What kind of connectivity do you need?

If you just want to buy one data logger for pretty cheap, you probably don’t need any. If you are like most of our readers however, this question is the big question. Monitoring the temperatures of larger facilities, where 5, 10, 100 monitoring points are being measured every day means automation is a must. Connectivity (your data logger sending its data to a server automatically, without you having to download it) is a consideration that will take a bit of research on your part. Want a little help to get you started? Okay, fine. There are many ways to transfer data, but here are the main ones: Ethernet, WiFi, Radio Frequency, and Cellular. Each one has its pros and cons.

Will there be any services involved?

These generally include: installation, calibration, validation, training, and ongoing support. This is dependent on what your auditor says you need, if you have one of those guys/gals.

When do you want them by?

For bigger companies: if you are sending out a RFP, understand that lead times will vary company to company. Factor that into your schedule! For smaller companies, this comes down to shipping and recalibration. Data logger manufacturers can generally get 1-5 loggers to you within a day or so. Bigger orders? Might take a few more days.

3. Find A Product

Will you buy through a sales person, or online?

It’s just a preference. Talking to a physical sales person can be rewarding, in that you may get a discount, or learn about services you didn’t know you needed but probably do. Buying online? Well, that’s fast and easy.

Do you need to send out a RFP?

If you are new to the temperature monitoring world, and aren’t sure what’s out there as far as products, but you know what you want, submit an RFP! That will allow companies to put all their ducks in a row, and cater to your needs. RFPs are tedious, so make sure you know what you are looking for before you set out to make one.

How many bids will you take?

Whether you are buying one, two, or 1,000 temperature monitors, you will need to put a cap on when your research is complete. You may have a past relationship with a company, it’s going great, and you will stop the bidding process at one. Other times, 10 companies may be involved, whether you are just shopping for a simple data logger online, or submitting an RFP for a national corporation.

How did it go? We hope well. Feel free to contact us if you have trouble filling out any of the questions.


Should Your Data Logger Have A Display?

Posted on: February 10th, 2015 by Dickson 2 Comments

Should Your Data Logger Have A Display?


Below two parties provide evidence on why you should, or should not get a temperature, or temperature and humidity data logger with a display . . . a verdict follows.

The Case For The Display:

The case for using a data logger with a display begins at the source, the actual data logger. When you place a data logger in an environment, don’t you want to know what temperature it is reading? Why wouldn’t you? Purchasing a data logger that has a display is an investment in your application and employees. Displays allow your employees to read data at the source, and displays provide a visual ”alert” when things go wrong in your facility. Having that peace of mind, is worth it every time.

The Case Against The Display:

Our colleagues presenting The Case For The Display would have you believe that the display is essential, not costly, and at the very least, only a benefit to your facility. We would agree with them on one point: that having a display is nice. But, it does not come without costs. Displays cost more money, and they use more battery. Also, data loggers with displays are typically larger than those without. Finally, what is a data logger really used for? Logging data. Viewing data at the source is what a thermometer is for. Downloading, viewing, and analyzing the temperature data of your facility is what is truly important.

Finally, with WiFi monitoring on the upswing, displays will become obsolete.

The Verdict: A Hung Jury

The jury could not come to a conclusion, because the decision is unique to each company! Think about the two cases presented above, and make the decision based on what your facility needs!


 

 

Our New HT350: Monitoring Meat The Right Way

Posted on: October 6th, 2014 by Dickson 2 Comments

iStock_000025698116Medium

The new HT350 is evidence that at Dickson, we do our research. We’ve spent the last few years attending meat processing trade shows, visiting customers who have mastered the meat manufacturing process, and poring over the data logger landscape as it relates to the meat and poultry industry. Then we decided to create a product that would benefit meat processors and producers the most. The HT350 is the result.

HT350_with_Flat_Cap_probe_3-12455

You may notice that our HT350 looks a bit different from our previous High Temperature Data Loggers. We changed things up to give you greater customization options. The HT350 is a food-grade plastic shell combined with a K-Thermocouple Probe, and offers those in the food industry the ability to monitor high temperatures in the most suitable way for their process. Interchangeable caps, interchangeable probes. Whether you need to insert the probe into a stick of beef jerky to measure its temperature, or want to run a bead-wire tip to measure the ambient temperature of a smoker, the HT350 can do it.

Inside and out, we crafted this new device to withstand high temperatures on two fronts: a quality outer shell and durable K-Thermocouple Probe. These two pieces of the device allow it to mesh into many, many, meat producers’ applications.

To learn more about the HT350, visit the devices product page. If you have questions about the product, feel free to email us at support@dicksondata.com, or call us at 630-543-3747.

 

A Spring Spent Inside A Car Trunk: Tracking Temperature for 3 Months in the Midwest

Posted on: September 15th, 2014 by Dickson No Comments

Car_Interior

Earlier this summer, on a bright but cool morning, our DicksonOne Product Manager, Matt, walked into work, tossed a Report Logger at me, and said something along the lines of, “That was in my car for three months, just now took it out.” I, being a bit groggy, and still without my morning cup(s) of coffee, was unfazed. However, what he said next made my ears perk up.

“Might be useful for a blog post or something like that.”

The coffee maker beeped that it had completed its important daily task. However, without ever taking a sip of that delicious brown nectar, I quickly plugged the logger into my computer and began typing away. This is what I wrote . . .

A Dickson Report Logger is good for a lot of things, one of which is ”fun data collection.” What is “fun data collection?” Collecting data, for nothing but the fun of looking at it. We did some fun data collection recently, using a Dickson Report Logger, the weather, and a car. What did we do? We tracked the temperature inside a standard sudan over the course of three months, and this is what we found . . .

Report Logger Photo

That’s the graph that our Report Logger generates (no software required) of the temperature in the environment it monitors. It comes in a PDF, so while you may be having trouble viewing the intricate details of three months’ worth of data in the photo above, when I downloaded the report onto my computer, I could see everything perfectly clear.

More details: Matt set the Report Logger in the trunk of his car in early April, and took it out in late June. During those 90 days or so, temperatures fluctuated a lot. Some days temperatures would creep down to 30F in the early morning, but be at 100F by 3pm in the afternoon. The high temperature during that period was 120.2F, which came in early May. The low? 23.6F in the middle of April. So, in
the span of a month, temperatures fluctuated almost 100F! I suppose we do reside in the Midwest.

A few other interesting notes: The average temperature inside Matt’s trunk was right at 70F, which is about what you would expect for a spring in America’s heartland. During the 90 day logging cycle, the logger took samples every 30 minutes, but the Report Logger does offer other customizable logging settings!

I hope you enjoyed this information as much as I did. Ciao.


 

Which Chart Recorder Is Right For You?

Posted on: June 19th, 2014 by Dickson 1 Comment

Which Chart Recorder Is Right For You (Post Image)

Most chart recorder customers have been using their devices for a long time. When they run out of charts, they buy new ones. When their pens run dry, they buy new ones. If you are one of these people, you probably feel like you know what you are looking for . . .

But do you?

We think it may be time to reevaluate your options. Although chart recorders are a bit of a dying technology (we will get to data loggers at the end) we feel that you should take a step back, and learn about the new features on chart recorders before placing that new order for a pack of charts and 6 red pens. Here are a few things to consider:

Variable

Is your chart recorder measuring temperature, when it could be measuring temperature and humidity? Is your chart recorder better served using features specific to temperature models, because humidity is of no real use to you? 

Probe

What kind of probe are you using? Is it the correct kind? Regulations are getting stricter, and if you are monitoring your temperature because your auditing agency said you have to, you may need to monitor your temperature with a more accurate probe. Chart recorders usually come with K-thermocouple probes for temperature monitoring, which can mean degrees of uncertainty in your measurements. Consider a device with an internal sensor, or at the minimum, be sure to calibrate your device with a 3-point and NIST calibration, ensuring the probes accuracy.

Alarms

Will your business hit a serious road bump if the temperatures you are monitoring get too high or too low? Will you lose product, time, and money? Do you have to be notified because regulations said so? If for some reason you want to know when your temperature or humidity is getting too high or low, you need a chart recorder with audio and visual alarms.

After considering these few features of chart recorders, is it maybe time to reconsider the device that you are using? There are many other questions that you should ask – and then answer – when choosing a new chart recorder. The process can seem daunting, but we promise it is worth it in the end. Plus, we are here to help. Feel free to call us anytime.

Data Loggers

Sorry, but we had to. Check them out! Everything that our new chart recorders can do, our data loggers can do better. We mean it. Questions about the switch from chart recorders to data loggers? Yup, give us a call.