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New Developments in Temperature Monitoring

Saturday, 20 April 2013 16:06:24 Europe/London

As always, the role of temperature is crucial in design, manufacture and control. Temperatures must be tested, monitored and controlled across all industries – from processing to plumbing as well as air conditioning, refrigeration, catering, food production … the list is endless.

Added to this is the growth in legislation on a whole range of safety issues. Notable examples include the European HACCP legislation on food handling and with Legionnaires’ disease, the HSE’s code of practice on legionella control (ACOP L8).

Due diligence

Taking accurate temperatures is not enough. Record-keeping must also be accurate, up-to-date and verifiable. And the two together must provide an interrogative system in which data is both accessible and useful – for example in the setting up of alarms and in the interpretation of results.

So far there has been an over-reliance in some industries on handwritten records with the obvious limitations this implies – not only time-expense but also double-handling of data which is notoriously vulnerable to human error. Other industries have embraced more complex solutions often resulting in overkill – for example a large scale wireless monitoring system which may be over-sensitive and certainly very expensive.

Handheld digital thermometers and fixed or portable data loggers have provided some excellent solutions for ensuring accurate and reliable temperature measurements to date. But technological improvements in recording results have, by comparison, lagged behind. A more rigorous approach to due diligence in temperature recording is required if managers are to not only maintain but also prove the accuracy and safety of their temperature monitoring systems.

Bluetooth meets barcode

Until now, a high quality, accurate thermometer has been able to record the temperature, time and date of each individual measurement but not what it has actually measured – whether that is an appliance, a process or an individual product. A quality control PDA system can provide a convenient, interrogative database of products or appliances for example – but, put simply, how can it ‘speak’ to a thermometer?

To meet this challenge, TME has developed a new generation of handheld thermometers which harness both Bluetooth and barcode technologies in one easy-to-use device, delivering a portable handheld logging capability: to scan and record not only temperature, time and date but also identity.

Thanks to the universal nature of barcodes, the MM7000 is suitable for monitoring a wide range of products, appliances and processes. Companies can use existing manufacturers’ barcodes already displayed or easily create and assign new barcodes themselves. Its capacity is enviable, with storage of up to 1,000 readings before download.

Open source software

Finally, it is the sheer compatibility of the system which can transform this extraordinary handheld thermometer into a virtual HACCP logbook – literally in the palm of your hand. The MM7000 is supplied with free open source software which downloads all the data it has recorded, ‘translating’ each barcode into readable text. The data can be easily interrogated using common office databases and spreadsheets.

The potential of this innovation for transforming due diligence can be most fully understood, when you extrapolate the above example across multiple sites. Imagine the capability to interrogate and analyse water temperature as part of a global legionella risk analysis operation or to track the temperature of individual food items from one food chain partner to another. No complex wireless monitoring systems to install – no expensive software – just a single handheld device which is affordable, compatible and easy to use.

Flexible sensing opportunities

The MM7000 is designed to be used across all industries, so it is compatible with all conventional plug-in probes. Its flexibility is due in no small part to the sheer range and number of probes already manufactured by sensor specialists, TME. Examples are numerous, including the company’s extensive range of type T/K thermocouples – dishwasher-safe and accurate to +/- 0.5°C.

TME constantly develops new sensors to satisfy changing requirements and applications in different industries. Its brand new Dual Purpose Probe (KS01-S) has been warmly welcomed by facilities managers as part of their legionella risk management operations – a unique 2 in 1 handheld probe for both surface and immersion measurements.

The MM7000 is also fully compatible with TME’s new Food Simulant Probe (TFS01) used to quickly and accurately test chilled or frozen food temperature without the cost and inconvenience of spoiling stored food.

Look out also for TME’s forthcoming miniature temperature blocks, providing sensing opportunities in restricted spaces and pipes in all kinds of manufacturing and processing at both high and low temperatures.

TME manufactures a wide range of high quality temperature equipment, including thermometers, probes and data loggers. For more information, including a free catalogue, contact TM Electronics (UK) Ltd on 01903 700651 sales@tmethermometers.com or visit www.tmethermometers.com          

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