With a wide range of businesses, comes a wide variety of portable data loggers varying in design, types, applications, and costs. The technology is no longer optional for organizations pursuing improved control over parameters that tend to vary without warning. The ability to capture information is not always the key value proposition for effective portable data logging solutions considering the high precision and accuracy advanced sensor technologies promise these days. Transmitting this information over to a centralized information repository through reliable, secure and cost-effective data transmission channels is essential to achieving data logging goals effectively.
USB Data Loggers
Physical connectivity is the old-school way of transmitting virtually unlimited data logger information into hard drives. Advantages include the use of USB port as a free data transmission medium to cost-effective data storage drives available for PCs. All of this isn’t entirely appealing as the value for money with alternatives easily trumps the free badge of USB connectivity.
To start with, users can easily lose data in transit if the USB connection is disturbed, leaving users with no way to recover the lost information unless portable data loggers provide built-in storage capabilities usually offered as a rare, impractical and costly option. Traditional PC-based data loggers also fail to carry the true IoT philosophy of real-time information updates and control automation since the data is only transferred manually to computers when it is available. PC storage limitations further add to the impracticality of this system considering stringent compliance requirements that necessitate data retention for prolonged periods of time.
USB portable data loggers work well for organizations with limited monitoring requirements, although investments in IoT for expansive parameter monitoring present endless value propositions for organizations of all sizes, verticals, and operating budgets.
Pros: cheap, high-storage capacity, long battery life, no signal required
Cons: manual connection, vulnerable to theft, no real-time updates
WiFi Data Loggers
Perhaps the real competition for data logger connectivity lies between WiFi and cellular communication systems. Both enable real-time monitoring with ongoing data transmission to back-end servers without the risk of losing data in transit – unless of course some network outage delinks all connected devices, computers and systems.
WiFi connected data loggers can serve as a starting point for small organizations such as individual restaurateurs looking to track food storage and preparation temperatures. However, WiFi networks can only handle limited devices, offer limited bandwidth across small ranges and promise minimal security for transmission of sensitive business information generated by IoT devices.
Pros: no manual connection, leverages large WiFi network, real-time monitoring
Cons: permission-based WiFi networks, battery life, security, limited range
Cellular Data Loggers
Machine to Machine (M2M) connected cellular data loggers address these concerns and offer immense value for money in terms of reliability, practicality, security, functionality and cost. Cellular providers such as Verizon boast an industry-proven track record of maintaining maximum uptime for dedicated and secure corporate M2M networks running business IoT applications. Advantages over WiFi and PC-based USB connectivity include robust connection over long ranges that stretch across geographic borders, virtually unlimited bandwidth at a reasonable price, enterprise-grade security and integration with cloud networks for wider IoT Big Data and business analytics applications.
WiFi may be on a collision course with advanced M2M cellular communication technologies in terms of performance but has yet to fill a myriad of gaps that hinder wide adoption of IoT technologies across the enterprise market. Most of these issues would never surface if organizations deploy the right IoT connectivity systems in place.
Pros: secure network, long-range, independent connectivity
Cons: equipment cost, battery life, data plan
Portable data loggers come in many flavors to fit a variety of industries and one solution does not stand tall above the rest for capital and connectivity reasons. As the market continues to grow and monitoring becomes more and more connected with software management products, we will continue to see movement from USB style data loggers to the always connected cellular data loggers available today.