Data logging is the process of capturing, storing and displaying one or more datasets to analyse activity, identify trends and help predict future events. Data logging can be completed manually, though most processes are automated through intelligent applications like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) or robotic process automation (RPA).
Data loggers can serve many purposes across various industries, including tracking supply chain and transportation activity; measuring temperature and humidity levels in various locations; monitoring growing conditions and environmental conditions in greenhouses or farms; and reviewing network performance and CPU usage.
How does data logging work?
The data logging process consists of four main steps:
- A sensor gathers and records the data from one or more sources.
- A microprocessor then performs basic measurement and logic tasks, such as adding, subtracting, transferring and comparing numbers.
- Data stored in the memory unit of the data logger is then transferred to a computer or other electronic device for analysis.
- Once analysed, the data is visualized through a knowledge graph or chart.
Four types of data loggers
Data loggers fall into four basic categories:
- Standalone data logger
- Wireless data logger
- Computer-based data logger
- Web-based data logger
Standalone data loggers
Standalone data loggers, or standalone sensors, are small, portable devices typically equipped with a USB port. These devices can either have an internal or external sensor which allows the device to track data from an on-site or remote location, respectively.
Wireless data loggers
Wireless loggers, or wireless sensors, are a type of standalone data logger that accesses data via wireless technology (such as a mobile app or Bluetooth) and transfers it via cloud technology. This eliminates the need for manually retrieving and compiling data from various systems.
The main benefit of using a wireless data logger as compared to a standalone sensor is speed. Cloud-based services can enable the system to automate the transfer of data at constant or regular intervals. The actual process is significantly faster than the manual downloading of data from a sensor.
Computer-based data loggers
As the name implies, computer-based data loggers, or computer-based sensors, are data loggers that are tethered to a computer. A computer-based logger supports real-time visibility into sensor data, while software applications on the computer enable real-time analysis. The main drawback of a computer-based logger is that it is limited by the system the sensor can run on.
Web-based data loggers
Web-based data loggers, or web-based sensors, are the most advanced type of data logger. This system is connected to the internet, typically through a wireless network; though, in some cases, an Ethernet connection may still be used. Collected data is transferred and stored on a remote server and accessed on demand.
Like a computer-based logger, web-based sensors can enable real-time monitoring and analysis. However, a computer-based sensor can also provide real-time alerts based on logging levels set by the IT team. While this capability can be helpful to the business, it requires significantly more energy from the logger, which means it either needs its own power source or may be prone to draining the battery of the endpoint it is associated with. However, the web-based logger is not limited by the system the sensor can run on, as is the case with computer-based loggers.