Data loggers have most certainly changed the world of environmental monitoring. They are precise instruments that provide accurate and regular samples of data. When used in such applications as the healthcare, food manufacturing and industrial complex industries they assure compliance with regulations. Temperature and humidity must remain constant in these settings to prevent loss of revenue due to spoilage of the products held in storage. Environmental monitoring with data loggers provides a layer of security that offers consistent, ongoing (unattended) data collection.
Although these devices contain electronics that permit precise readings, just like any other type of electronics equipment, they can break down. But how do you know if your data logger is broken, requires replacement or just needs repairs? We will take a look at some of the warning signs to watch out for and how to deal with them in this article.
Sign 1 – You Are Starting To Doubt The Accuracy Of The Readings
This can happen over time. Maybe you see a slight variation in the readings of one data logger that doesn’t seem consistent with the other loggers in the system and they are all monitoring the same conditions in the same general zone. Could there be something wrong with just one of the loggers? Here’s what you do to determine that.
Test The Power Source
Sometimes a data logger will get finicky when it isn’t completely charged or the batteries have run down a bit. Your simple solution here is to replace the batteries or recharge the unit. This is a common problem that causes data loggers to fail, so it is very important to ensure that each unit is receiving a sufficient amount of power for operation.
Get The Logger To Do A Self Test
Depending on the model of the data logger with which you are having issues, you should be able to get it to conduct a self-test. This would entail reading the voltage and temperature. Check your instruction manual for how to do this. If the data logger cannot pass this test, your problem is with the sensors. This may require repair or replacement of the unit.
Check The Sensors
If the logger has passed the first two tests, your next move is to conduct a manual test of each of the sensors. This involves shutting the unit down and turning each sensor on one-by-one for a reading. If you end up with readings that don’t make sense, you know that the problem is with the sensors. Again, repair or replacement will be your choices.
Check The Software
Sometimes data loggers operate fine but the software could be the problem. This is an issue that is not a DIY fixable situation. If you have determined that the problem with your data logger is due to the software, and if you have been keeping the software updated, then you need to contact the manufacturer of the software for a solution.
Sign 2 – The Data Stored On The Memory Is Missing Dates
This is a very common situation if you leave your data logger unattended for an extended period of time. Depending on how often you are sampling conditions (hourly, half-hourly or more frequently) the onboard memory can only hold so much information. However, instead of halting the recording of data, the logger will resort to overwriting the oldest records and will continue to do this in an endless loop until you download the information. Check to see if this is what has caused the missing dates. If so, the only way to prevent this from happening in the future is to more frequently download the data from the memory.
Sign 3 – Not All Sensors Are Recording Data
This is another problem that can occur over time. Sometimes a sensor or two just quits retrieving information. Your simple troubleshooting process would involve checking each of the sensors individually – as noted a little further up on this page. By checking each sensor you may be able to identify if one has a loose connection or is faulty in some other way. If you determine that a sensor is damaged, it can be replaced and you will be able to continue collecting data.
Depending on how you power the unit, and as obvious as it may sound, it is always a good idea to confirm that the data logger has power. If it is ‘dead’ your first course of action is to confirm that it either has fresh batteries or has a full charge. If the power source is not the problem, see if you can connect to it wirelessly from your device with the software you use to download the data. For models that connect to a computer with a USB, try connecting the two. If the data logger remains ‘dead’ you may require a replacement. According to Dickson, as a final step, contact the professionals where you purchased the data logger to have them examine the unit further.
Sign 5 – The Data Logger Has Been Dropped, Driven Over, Etc.
Although these electronic devices contain precision parts, they are usually quite sturdy and can take a bit of a beating. However, if the data logger that has been damaged will not power up, connect to the software, record data or any of its normal functions, you have the same options that are available to you if the unit was dead. Contact the manufacturer and discuss your replacement options.
As with any other electronic devices, data loggers can have problems. However, some of them can be easily resolved with some basic troubleshooting. The extent of the damage or the nature of the problem will dictate whether you are looking at a repair – some that are DIY – or a complete replacement of the unit. If your medical facility, food processing plant or industrial factory depends on the accuracy of your data loggers to keep your facility compliant, it is important to not ignore any of the signs noted above.