After a few years of talking about purchasing some remote data loggers, I think this is the year we actually will. Currently, we are using Smart Reader2 data loggers, which I physically collect quarterly (or more frequently, if we notice a big change in data). We monitor temperature and relative humidity by collecting the information on each data logger using the TrendReader 2 software from ACR Systems, and then transferring the file into eClimate Notebook. Our data loggers are in various locations here in the library as well as our library storage building located across campus.
We see moving to remote data loggers as a way to save a little bit of time. I wouldn’t have to physically collect the data loggers from each location every time we want to download the data. I really don’t mind going to retrieve each data logger, but it would be nice when we just want to do a quick check to have the ability to check the data loggers from our work or home computers.
One of our main requirements is that whatever remote data logger type we choose will have to work with eClimatenotebook. I am looking for any input you all may have on what has worked well for you or what hasn’t. Is there a particular data logger you like? And why? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!
We recently inquired about wireless data transfer for our PEM2 units and learned that no such option is available. IPI indicated two relevant challenges:
-Data loggers are typically placed in areas with thick support walls that are densely packed with collections materials. This can cause short broadcast distances and/or require multiple broadcast repeaters.
-Any macro for data retrieval that runs on an institutional server is subject to server interruptions that can cause data loss. This problem can be compounded by the “non-critical” perception of environmental data by IT staff.
Though this information was specific to the PEM2 units, it might be worth investigating in regards to other units, as well.
Mindy, Samantha Alderson at the American Museum of Natural History and I will be teaching a workshop at the upcoming AIC 2014 Annual Meeting on dataloggers and will be going into depth on stand alone, wireless networked and hard-wired networked options. Hopefully you can attend? Sarah’s info from IPI only touches on some of the challenges. You can check out a presentation that I did on wireless monitoring that is available on the Connecting To Collections online community for a very basic intro that was aimed at small institutions.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I am the DicksonOne Product Manager. DicksonOne is a wireless temperature and humidity monitoring system designed, manufactured, and sold by Dickson. With that out of the way, I’ll get straight to it . . .
Traditional data loggers don’t take into account much of the new technology that exists today. Data logger technology is over 30 years old and minus a few features, hasn’t really changed too much since its inception. The problems you list: needing to physically go to the logger, manually downloading the data from the device and uploading it to another service, and monitoring multiple locations have all been solved.
Also, new technology saves users time and money. With just five loggers you could easily be talking over 160 hours/year* in personnel hours!
Ms. Norris also raises some good points about some challenges users face when moving to remote monitoring systems: 1) thick walls resulting in poor wireless signals 2) expensive auxiliary equipment and 3) server interruptions causing data loss. I’ll address each issue below:
1) Poor wireless signals and expensive extra proprietary equipment.
There are two main types of wireless monitoring systems: systems that use RF wireless (like the cordless phones you may have at home) and WIFI/Ethernet like your laptops, cell phones or office computers.
With RF the cost can add up because signals may be easily impeded and thus you have to buy additional repeaters (these are almost always proprietary to that company or system) to relay the data from one point to the next until it gets back to a base station/computer.
WiFi on the other hand is quite ubiquitous these days and becoming increasingly popular. But, you might say: “Wait Matt, these devices are located in a room or warehouse that doesn’t have WiFi!” I’ll make a few arguments for why adding a WiFi access point is still the better option. First, WiFi isn’t proprietary; many devices are using WiFi these days because of its popularity and simplicity. This means that other devices like wireless barcode scanners, laptops, computer carts and more can access that same network these loggers are. Rather than spending hundreds on proprietary single-use equipment you’re actually investing in your infrastructure. Another option is using ethernet or a combination of WiFi and ethernet. Maybe you don’t have WiFi in all areas, but you do have ethernet a good system should give you that flexibility.
Some systems do offer devices with cellular connectivity. These are great for remote (hard to get to or hard to get internet services at) areas and transportation applications. Typically, the cost for these devices are substantially higher, but if they meet your needs they are often worth it.
2) Server interruptions causing data loss
A well designed system should never lose data. At Dickson we’re all about the data. You don’t care what box takes the reading and delivers it to you; ultimately, what you’re responsible for is having the physical/digital record to review for an audit or process review.
From the original post, one of the requirements listed was the ability to interact with eClimatenotebook. While I’ve only briefly looked at the service, I believe a modern system should be able to interact with the service either between manual exports from the data monitoring system or an automated connection between the monitoring system and eClimatenotebook via an API (application programming interface).
Other features I would be on the lookout for include:
– Alarms: receive emails, text messages, or even phone calls if the temperature, humidity, or dewpoint are outside of your specified zones
– Access anywhere/anytime: a cloud-based monitoring system offers many benefits, but namely you can access it from the office or home (say you get an alarm and just want to see what’s up), there’s no software to install on your office computers, and any new features are automatically added to the system without you having to worry about installing anything.
– A user friendly interface: in my experience, if a system is hard to use then people won’t use it ultimately defeating the purpose.
– The product is being continuously developed: you want a system that will grow with you, be adding new features, and hasn’t been abandoned.
DicksonOne (www.DicksonOne.com) is a temperature and humidity monitoring system that has all of these features (except for cellular devices… currently). If you have any questions about what I’ve said above or anything else regarding temperature and humidity monitoring, I’m more than happy to help. Feel free to email me at email@example.com.
* If you’re interested in our assumptions on this I’m more than happy to explain. Just shoot me an message at the email above.