HOBO Loggers Monitor Warehouse Temperature and Humidity 24/7
Recently a manufacturer of vitamins and mineral supplements deployed several Onset HOBO® temperature and humidity loggers in their climate-controlled warehouse to monitor seasonal temperature fluctuations and optimize product freshness.
To comply with strict FDA quality regulations and to meet its own internal PQ standards, the company has implemented a seasonal temperature profile program for its vitamin storage facilities throughout the country. Because many of its products are temperature- and humidity-sensitive, extreme weather such as summer heat or heavy rain can quickly compromise product quality. For example, soft gels are affected by higher temperatures, while hard tablets are susceptible to humidity, absorbing moisture which makes them softer.
“We’re dealing with organics here, so they can go bad really fast,” said an engineering project manager with the company. “When you have a storage facility with 30-foot ceilings and a warehouse racking system, heat can get trapped. We can’t allow vast temperature swings, so we need to be sure that our HVAC units are keeping products within a temperature range of +/- 5°F and a humidity range of +/- 3%.”
A new approach to monitoring
Prior to this installation, the company had relied on a programmable sensor to track warehouse environmental conditions, but this was expensive and cumbersome. Looking for a more optimal solution, the engineering staff found Onset online and discovered the company’s line of HOBO® UX100-003 Series Temperature and Humidity loggers.
The HOBO Temperature and Relative Humidity data logger records both temperature and RH% (within 3.5% accuracy) in indoor environments using its internal sensors. The UX100-003 data logger is ideal for tracking food storage conditions in warehouses, for logging temperature in server rooms, and for measuring humidity levels in museums.
These matchbox-sized devices bridge the gap between traditional data loggers, which are limited in accuracy and memory, and larger, more expensive data loggers that can be difficult to program and maintain. The logger’s built-in LCD screen makes it easy for warehouse workers to check current temperature and relative humidity levels in real time, and also provides indicators for logging status, battery use and memory consumption. The loggers work with Onset’s HOBOware® software for graphing, analyzing and reporting the environmental data.
Putting HOBO to the test
In one warehouse temperature mapping project, engineers deployed multiple HOBO temperature and humidity data loggers in a 33,000 square-foot facility. Before installing the loggers, the staff tested their accuracy by putting them in an environmental chamber, plugging them in, setting the temperature and humidity ranges, and then monitoring to make sure the loggers stayed within those ranges.
Having passed the accuracy verification test, the loggers were configured using their HOBOware software to measure and record temperature and humidity levels every 30 minutes on a 24/7 basis. Users also set alarm notifications so that warehouse staff can be immediately notified of problems. For example, when temperature or humidity conditions exceed set thresholds, the event triggers the logger to beep and display an alarm notification on the LCD.
In this particular project, users deployed the HOBO loggers in a vertical, column-like fashion at three different heights in the 30-foot high storage area. Loggers were placed at the top (25 ft.), middle (15 ft.) and bottom (1 ft.) of storage racks, and, where possible, mounted near air supply and returns. Environmental data were logged for a period of three weeks – the manufacturer’s standard duration for temperature mapping – and then offloaded via USB to an office PC for graphing and analysis.
Leveraging the data
At the conclusion of the three-week monitoring period, staff engineers used the collected data to create detailed graphs of the temperature/humidity profiles and incorporate them into slide presentations to update the company’s management. These reports and high-quality visuals will help the engineering team to make ongoing recommendations on possible issues.
“In future if the temperature or humidity has gone out of range, we’ll go to the HVAC folks and have the control system adjusted so there’s more air supply in and less air supply out,” said one of the engineers. “Or they might change the air velocity with variable frequency drives, or install fans to increase circulation.”
If any building system changes are made, the engineering team can map the environmental conditions for another three weeks, using qualification documents to track the process.
Using the HOBO temperature and humidity loggers, the company’s engineering and HVAC staff now has greater confidence in their temperature mapping capabilities. Now they’re able to keep closer tabs on the performance of their control systems, and also have a proven method for protecting inventory and meeting federal requirements as well as their own QA standards.
HOBO™ and Onset™ are trademarks of Onset Computer Corporation, Bourne, Massachusetts (USA). CAS DataLoggers offers HOBO products for customers in every industry.