In industries that deal with sensitive products, monitoring the environments where these products are kept, transported, and worked with is important. Many of these products need to be held in very precise conditions in order to retain their safety and effectiveness. To help understand the conditions in a production facility, warehouse, trailer, or other space, a process called temperature mapping – or thermal mapping if you are mapping both temperature and humidity – can help.

Temperature mapping is an extremely useful process to help protect both sensitive products and the people who use them. In some industries that are regulated by the government, temperature mapping may even be required. To help give you a better understanding of exactly what temperature mapping is, why it matters, and how it’s done, we’ve put together this explainer. Here is a brief guide to temperature mapping.

What is temperature mapping?

Temperature mapping is a process whereby a 3D temperature map is created of a controlled space. It is accomplished through the use of digital temperature sensors known as data loggers. These sensors are placed throughout the space and record the conditions over a period of time to create this comprehensive map.

Temperature monitoring is common practice (and best practice) in regulated industries such as pharma, medical device manufacturing, food and beverage, and specialized logistics. It can be used in all types of controlled spaces within these industries, such as refrigerators, freezers (both regular and ultra-low), cold rooms, distribution equipment, processing areas, ovens, incubators, and more.

One point to note: people often confuse temperature mapping and temperature monitoring and use these terms interchangeably. They are different. Temperature mapping is a great way to set up temperature monitoring. Mapping uses many more sensors and is done over a set time. Conversely, monitoring uses fewer data loggers but is an ongoing process that companies dealing with sensitive products engage in.

The benefits of temperature mapping

Temperature mapping offers a host of benefits to companies that engage in the process. These benefits help the company so that they don’t lose products or run afoul of governing bodies that regulate their industry. It also benefits the consumers because they are more likely to get a better, safer, more effective product from companies that use temperature mapping for their sensitive products. Some of the most important benefits of temperature mapping include the following.

Helps you stay compliant

Many of the industries that deal with sensitive products are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In its role as overseer of these industries, the FDA conducts regular inspections and audits to ensure that its regulations are being followed. Failure to comply can mean warnings, fines, or even being shut down by the FDA. Temperature mapping can help set a company up for success and ensure that their controlled spaces are compliant with all federal regulations.

Protecting your business

Temperature mapping helps protect your entire business when dealing with sensitive products, not just the products themselves. If temperature-sensitive products are worked with or kept at a temperature that is not within the acceptable range, these products may no longer be viable and they may have to be destroyed or reworked. If they are compromised and they go out into the world, they may not work as needed or even be unsafe. Any of these outcomes are bad for business; temperature mapping is a great tool to help ensure this doesn’t happen to your business.

Sets up temperature monitoring

Whether a company does it to stay compliant or just to protect its assets, the key to long-term success in the world of sensitive products is a wide-ranging temperature monitoring program. To ensure that a temperature monitoring program is a success, temperature mapping is a prudent first step. Mapping will tell you where the best place is for the sensor to be set up and how they should be calibrated.

How temperature mapping works

Temperature mapping can be a complicated process. Companies that need temperature mapping for sensitive products but don’t have a lot of experience executing this process may choose to look for outside help during this all-important process. As this Dickson mapping guide states, businesses often work with an outside vendor to conduct temperature mapping projects. Here is what temperature mapping experts can do to provide a comprehensive temperature map for areas that hold sensitive products.

Create a plan

Knowing where to set up the data loggers and what conditions to create the temperature map under are important pieces of temperature mapping. Mapping experts will know the best way to do this to best serve your business.

Calibrate the sensors

Temperature mapping is reliant on the accuracy and efficacy of the data loggers used in the process. Mapping experts know exactly how to calibrate these sensors to get the most accurate results.

Execute the plan

Once everything is set and ready, mapping experts will be able to carry out the temperature mapping according to plan. This not only means running the tests but also recording the data in a way that can be used for data-driven decision-making after the mapping process is complete.

Analyze results

Once the plan is executed, there will be a lot of raw data available. Mapping experts can use this data to create your temperature maps and also help explain what both the data and the maps mean for the controlled space and your business as a whole.

Recommend next steps

Temperature mapping is only as useful as what comes after it. Mapping experts can make recommendations about how to remedy issues that came up during the mapping process or how to proceed with an ongoing temperature monitoring program.

Conclusion

This brief guide to temperature mapping should give you a better feel for the basics of this process. When you create a comprehensive 3D model of temperatures in a controlled space, you will see benefits for your compliance efforts, your overall business, and your temperature monitoring program. It can be complicated, so bringing in experts to help is normally a good idea.