When Quality Needs Clean Temperature Data (Part 2)
GENEVA, OH, April 4, 2018
Can a Thermometer and a Software Development Kit
Enable Integrated Quality Measurement and Real-Time Alerts?
(Excerpts from the whitepaper found here in its entirety)
As a next step, automated data collection and storage solutions emerged that digitally stored the data directly at the time of measurement. Unfortunately, most vendors offering such a solution tacked on proprietary software solutions that required multiple steps to actually enter the data in their customers’ databases. In a typical “How Not to Do It” scenario, the vendor provides a proprietary software that requires connection to the digital thermometer. When connected to the local QA computer, the temperature data uploads only to the vendor’s proprietary software. To integrate the data into the company’s database, the QA technician must then download a comma-separated (.csv) data file and upload it to the company’s database. This is a cumbersome task that may or may not occur promptly and may also be subject to errors. This approach does not allow direct two-way communication with the thermometer to change or update settings and defaults.
“Why does this matter?” you might ask. The three-fold answer is auditability, traceability and cost. All of the previously described temperature measurement processes have multiple inherent disadvantages for each of these characteristics. In a commercial temperature measurement environment, auditability and traceability translate to “no human interaction between thermometer and server”. 5-star traceability also means that the data exhibits a clear chain of custody, which is not possible if there’s human intervention between measurement and the server. Of course, the data is meaningless unless the thermometer is accurate. In that vein, any integrated solution needs to document that the instrument has been regularly tested for accuracy.
Perhaps most importantly, delays in generating out-of-range temperature alerts at any stage of the value chain multiply the production cost. A fully integrated, Bluetooth® enabled automated temperature measurement platform enables nearly instantaneous alerts. Whenever temperature measurements generate an alert, that product can be quickly identified and diverted out of the value chain. For the food industry, this translates to preventing, or in the worst case, limiting the scope of a recall due to product that may contain unacceptable levels of foodborne pathogens. Further, a prompt alert dramatically reduces all the tangible and intangible costs associated with such an incident. For regulated industries, such a direct thermometer-to-server solution means that measurements are traceable and easily audited in a matter of minutes. This eliminates all human interaction with the data as versus the “How-not-to-do-it” examples noted below.