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What is Data Logging?

By Garry Crystal
Updated May 16, 2024
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Data logging or acquisition is, in its simplest terms, the procurement of information in order to learn more about a process or system. It forms the basis of an understanding of a diverse range of systems.

The logging and saving of information provides for increased knowledge and sometimes improved management of how and why different processes work. Many loggers archive information such as temperature using sensors and then convert the information into electrical signals. The data is archived and once retrieved can be filtered and properly understood.

To begin the process we need a data logger. This could be a stand-alone logger or personal computer (PC) based device. The data logger is an instrument that connects to other devices for the sole purpose of collecting information.

The stand-alone logger has many advantages over the PC based logger. Many have their own back up power source in case of power failures so that vital information will not be lost if there was a power failure.

As the stand-alone is specifically designed for data logging it is able process data faster, more efficiently and can have far more sensors than a PC. The information from the stand-alone logger can then be transferred to a personal computer.

Data logging is used in a variety of situtations. An easy example is the black box recorder in an airplane, which gathers information on the plane's flight to be used later. Another is a weather system logger used by meteorologists to detect temperature and pressure in order to determine upcoming weather conditions.

Data logging provides for the gathering of statistics which are used to give a better understanding of the field you are working in. The information is needed in all types of businesses to determine performance, quality, efficiency cost cutting, fuel consumption and many other vital information uses.

Over the years there has been an evolution in data logging and the type of loggers that are used. In the past, the equipment was bulky and mechanical, using huge paper chart recorders. Now, sophisticated computers and microprocessors retrieve the information in far more detail than could have been processed previously.

Loggers are used in everyday life unknowingly by you the public.

The next time that you are in a supermarket and hand over your credit card or store card, a data logging device may track your spending movements by the store. It can assess which items you have bought, how many times a month you buy them and even, how many times you use the store.

In today's society nearly all information from the weather to our shopping habits ends up in a data logger. The information is archived and saved for use at a later date.

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