In regulated industries, it can be very important that products or raw materials are kept within very specific temperature ranges. In these industries, the consumer cannot necessarily see if a product is no longer safe or effective so environmental regulations help ensure the consumer’s health and safety.
In order to meet environmental regulations, organizations need to participate in environmental monitoring. This is a long-term process to which regulated organizations must commit. Before this begins though, companies will want to engage in temperature mapping.
Temperature mapping, or thermal mapping when it involves both temperature and humidity, is a different process than temperature monitoring. In this explainer, we will give you the information you need to know about the temperature mapping process. This includes what it is, why it is important, and how you go about it. Here a brief guide to temperature mapping.
What is temperature mapping?
Temperature mapping is a process by which an organization creates a three-dimensional picture of the temperature in a given space. It involves putting many data loggers in and around the space to create this 3D map. It maps out where the hot and cold spots are during normal times and can also be used to test the space under stress.
Under stress means that space is not operating under ideal conditions for one reason or another. This could be because the space is relatively empty or because it is filled to capacity. It also tests what happens when things go wrong, such as power outages or when the door is opened or even left open.
Why is temperature mapping important?
Temperature mapping is important because it is a data-driven way to figure out exactly what is going on with the temperature of your spaces. It is the only way to truly know the temperatures throughout your space and what happens under stress.
Mapping is also an important first step to take before you start a long-term temperature monitoring program. It will tell you the areas you most need to monitor and how many data loggers you need to properly monitor the space.
This process can also be used if space is not functioning as needed. You can use the map to figure out what actions you need to take to get the space in compliance. You can also use it to create standard operating procedures (SOPs) for using the space and figure out the best and most effective ways to put things into space so they stay at the required temperature.
How do you carry out temperature mapping?
Dickson has a breakdown of the necessary steps to correctly perform temperature mapping or thermal mapping. It can be a complicated process so many companies look to a third-party expert to implement a temperature mapping project in their facilities. Whether you have the time and expertise to do it yourself or you bring in a professional, several steps are needed for successful temperature mapping.
Make a plan
Like any good project, temperature mapping starts with planning. You need to figure out how many data loggers you need, where to put them, and what conditions you want to map. To decide these things, you want to take into account many different factors. This includes the dimensions of the space, the equipment in the space, the location of the heating or cooling elements, and where are the areas can be opened.
Calibrate the data loggers
Data loggers are sensitive devices that must be set up correctly in order to work properly. The calibration of the sensor must be precise and the interval in which you test is also incredibly important. In certain industries, certain compliance guidelines must be followed before you start temperature mapping.
Execute the plan
When the plan is in place and the data loggers are set, it is time to run the temperature mapping scenario. This means placing the data loggers and labeling them to be sure the data is accurate. Then, the temperature mapping happens for whatever duration and under whatever conditions were set forth in the plan. When retrieving the data loggers, the labels and placements must be double-checked. If something moved or ended up out of place, it can throw off the data the temperature map provides.
Retrieve and review the data
Depending on the type of data loggers used, the data will need to be recorded, downloaded, or reviewed on the monitoring system to which they transmit information. After this happens, you can review the data and create a map to find hot or cold spots and where stress led to underperformance. It is also important to recalibrate the data loggers that were used in the process again to confirm the overall accuracy one final time.
When you have your map, it is time to put it to use. This last step is where you make recommendations and plans based on what the data shows. This can be for monitoring plans and data logger placement, SOPs, space layout, or contingency plans for an emergency situation.
When creating these plans from temperature mapping data, meeting regulatory compliance standards is the most important thing. You also have to put procedures in place that make sense for workflow, safety, and, of course, your bottom line.
That is a brief overview of temperature mapping. This is an important process, especially in regulated industries to ensure that space stays in compliance with regulations and maintains the overall quality of the materials or products that pass-through space. It helps make data-driven decisions and sets up all the ways you use the space in the future.
It is a step that any company that plans on doing environmental monitoring needs to take. It can be a difficult process, though. It takes quite a bit of time and expertise to go through the whole process so you are usually better off bringing in temperature mapping experts to do it for your organization.