Certain terms are common across many industries but these terms may not be as familiar to those outside of those industries. Temperature mapping is a good example of this phenomenon. Many different sectors use temperature mapping as part of their greater quality assurance process but if you aren’t in those industries (or even if you are but aren’t a part of Qualitative Assessment you may not know what temperature mapping is.
Temperature mapping is especially common in highly regulated industries where temperature standards and monitoring are common. This includes industries such as healthcare, pharmaceutical, medical device manufacturing, aerospace, and food and beverage industries. These industries must all engage in environmental monitoring of their products or manufacturing processes. Temperature mapping is an important first step for this.
If you’re not overly familiar with temperature mapping, don’t worry. We’re here to answer some of the most common questions about this process. We’ll take on questions about what temperature mapping is, how it works, and other relevant points. Here are five temperature mapping questions, answered.
What is temperature mapping and where is it needed?
Temperature mapping involves creating a comprehensive, three-dimensional map of the temperature (or temperature and humidity if you are conducting thermal mapping) throughout a given space over a given period of time.
It is needed in regulated industries or any industry where the temperature of products or related manufacturing and transportation processes is important. Within these industries, temperature mapping can be used in all types of locations such as warehouses, refrigerators, transportation equipment, processing areas, sterilizing areas, ovens, or incubators. Another area to temperature map, which is very relevant in 2021, is ultra-low temperature freezers. This equipment is vital to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Should I consider expert help with temperature mapping?
The short answer is, yes. By calling on the experts to create a temperature map for you, you get a host of benefits that would be hard to replicate if you did it in-house. Temperature mapping experts bring a level of expertise your staff probably don’t have. You would also have to purchase temperature mapping equipment that would not see frequent use. The process takes 250 hours to complete and using in-house personnel for this would take a large amount of time away from their normal responsibilities.
How does the temperature mapping process work?
Temperature mapping involves placing a large number of temperature-recording sensors called data loggers around an area. This is a far larger number than you would use during your standard temperature monitoring process. Over a set timeframe, this data helps you create a map. It can be conducted under different conditions to illustrate how the space’s temperature will respond when empty, full, or under some type of stress.
How often is temperature mapping needed?
You don’t need to perform temperature mapping that often. Once you have a comprehensive temperature map of a new space, the information gathered should hold true for as long as the variables stay the same. When you change the space or the variables in the space by adding new equipment or replacing the HVAC unit, for example, you may want to again perform temperature mapping.
What is the temperature mapping process?
As mentioned above, temperature mapping is a complex and complicated process that is usually best handled by experts in this field. If you’re interested in a detailed guide to exactly how temperature mapping is done, this temperature mapping guide has a good step-by-step breakdown of the process.
Step 1 – Planning
Every good process starts with a good plan and that is also where temperature mapping needs to start. Many considerations need to be taken into account before you get started with this process. You need to decide the time frame, the conditions you are mapping under, the location of equipment and HVAC elements, and potential trouble spots. All this will dictate how many data loggers you use and where you place them.
Step 2 – Calibration
When you have determined the placement plan for the data loggers, these sensitive devices must be expertly calibrated so you get the most accurate data possible. You need to set the intervals at which the sensors take readings, generally somewhere between one and fifteen minutes, and the degree of accuracy which, in many regulated industries needs to be no more than ± 0.5 degrees Celsius. Other calibration requirements may be necessitated by specific industry regulations.
Step 3 – Execute
After the mapping has been planned and the data loggers are calibrated, it is time to run the mapping process. Placing the sensors in the predetermined locations and labeling them appropriately is key to a successful process, as is rechecking placements and labels when removing them after the process is done to confirm accuracy.
Step 4 – Retrieve and Review
At the end of temperature mapping execution, it is time to gather the data. This may mean reading it from a display, downloading it onto a device, or pulling it down off the cloud. Once you have the data, you can create your temperature map and review how the space fared. Did the temperature fluctuate dramatically when a door opened? Did it get too hot or cold when the space was full versus empty? Is the HVAC position having a larger effect on one area than another? These are the types of questions you will be able to answer when reviewing the temperature map.
Step 5 – Recommendations
After you ask and answer the pertinent questions, you need to use that information to make decisions and recommendations about the future. This can mean setting up your long-term monitoring plan, creating standard operating procedures (SOPs), or coming up with contingency plans for emergencies.
Temperature mapping is beneficial to so many industries that it is worth knowing more about the process. Hopefully, answering these five common questions has helped give you a greater understanding of what temperature mapping is, why it is so useful, and how it works. There is much more to know about temperature mapping but, by knowing these basics, you should now be able to ask more questions or research the topic in more depth if you so choose.