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.