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Stephen Newman May 23, 2024 3:06:07 PM 5 min read

Safeguarding Sensitive Products: Why Temperature Mapping Matters

What is Temperature Mapping? 

Imagine a commercial cooling unit filled with life-saving medications, delicate biological samples, or high-value food products. The integrity of these items hinges on maintaining precise temperature conditions. Temperature mapping, also known as thermal mapping, is the process designed to safeguard these critical products by ensuring that their storage environments remain within the required temperature ranges. 

Temperature mapping involves temporarily installing calibrated sensors, known as data loggers, to record temperatures at various points within a defined space over a set period. This meticulous process identifies any hot or cold spots that could compromise the stored items, ensuring their safety and efficacy. Beyond identifying temperature fluctuations, temperature mapping also assesses the impact of operational activities such as door openings, power outages, or equipment failures on temperature stability. 


Why Temperature Mapping Matters 

Understanding the importance of temperature mapping is crucial for any organization dealing with temperature-sensitive products. Here’s why it matters: 

Ensuring Product Quality:
  • Temperature mapping identifies risk areas within storage environments, preventing potential damage to products. For example, in pharmaceutical and food industries, maintaining the correct temperature ensures that products remain safe and effective. 
Regulatory Compliance:
  • Many industries are regulated by strict guidelines that require temperature mapping. Compliance with these regulations is essential to avoid legal issues and ensure public safety. 
Preventing Financial Loss:
  • By identifying and mitigating temperature inconsistencies, companies can avoid costly product losses. For instance, a pharmaceutical company can prevent the distribution of ineffective drugs caused by improper storage conditions. 
Enhancing Decision-Making:
  • The data collected from temperature mapping allows companies to make informed decisions about their storage and transportation processes. Advanced analytics can uncover deeper insights, leading to improved product handling and storage practices. 

Different Types of Temperature Mapping 

Temperature mapping can be performed in various environments, each with its unique challenges and requirements: 

Refrigerators and Freezers: 

  • Standard Refrigerators and Freezers: Common in laboratories, medical facilities, and food storage. 
  • Ultra Low Temperature (ULT) Freezers: Used for highly sensitive materials such as vaccines and certain pharmaceuticals. 


  • Vital in research and medical laboratories for maintaining specific temperature conditions for biological samples. 

Large Storage Areas: 

  • Warehouses: Enormous spaces that require comprehensive temperature control. 
  • Cold Storage Rooms: Smaller than warehouses but still needing precise temperature regulation. 
  • Transport Vehicles: Ensuring temperature stability during the transportation of goods. 

How Temperature Mapping is Done 

Conducting a temperature mapping study involves several steps to ensure accurate and reliable results: 

Planning and Preparation:
  • Sensor Placement: Sensors are strategically placed throughout the space to capture a comprehensive temperature profile. Typically, a 9-point mapping system is used for small units, with sensors placed in each corner and the center at both top and bottom. 
  • Additional Points: Ambient room temperature may also be measured, adding to the complexity and thoroughness of the study. 
  • Mapping Duration: The length of the study varies depending on the space and regulatory requirements, ranging from 24 hours for small units to several days or weeks for larger areas like warehouses. 
  • Professional vs. Self-Service: Companies may hire engineers for professional mapping services or rent calibrated equipment to perform the mapping themselves. 
Data Collection and Analysis:
  • After the sensors have recorded data over the study period, the information is collected and analyzed. Data is typically presented in graphs and Excel spreadsheets for easy interpretation and auditing. mockup-of-three-consecutive-browser-screens-1755-el (1)

Temperature Mapping vs. Temperature Monitoring 

Temperature Mapping: This is a comprehensive study to understand the temperature distribution within a space over a specified period. It's typically a one-time or periodic process aimed at identifying potential problem areas. 

Temperature Monitoring: Following mapping, continuous temperature monitoring is implemented using fewer sensors to maintain ongoing compliance and ensure product safety. This is often mandated by regulatory bodies for continuous quality assurance. 

Frequency of Temperature Mapping 

While annual mapping is generally sufficient, certain environments may require more frequent studies, such as biannual mappings to account for seasonal variations in temperature. This is particularly important in environments with significant temperature fluctuations, like warehouses. 

Specific Testing During Temperature Mapping 

Common Tests: 

  • Temperature Distribution: Both empty and loaded. 
  • Door Open Test: To assess the impact of door operations. 
  • Power Off Test: To evaluate the effect of power failures. 
  • Additional Tests: Such as partial load tests and product penetration tests, depending on the specific requirements. 

Determining the Number of Sensors 

The number of sensors depends on the size and complexity of the storage area. Typical setups include: 

  • Small Units: 9-12 sensors. 
  • Large Areas: Risk assessments determine the number of sensors based on factors like unit size, fan and vent locations, and environmental factors. 

Sensor Placement: Sensors should be placed strategically to cover all potential hot and cold spots. For requalification, sensors should be adjacent to permanent monitoring probes to ensure these locations are the most suitable for continuous monitoring. 

Understanding Data Loggers 


  • Accuracy: Varies from ±2°C to ±0.05°C. 
  • Response Time: Fast response times are crucial for accurate data, especially in sterilization processes. 
  • Internal vs. External Sensors: External sensors are generally preferred for more accurate readings. 
  • Construction Materials: Stainless steel for cleanrooms and ATEX areas. 
  • Logging Frequency and Memory: Must match the specific requirements of the mapping study. 

Calibration of Data Loggers 

Annual calibration by ISO 17025 certified labs ensures data accuracy. Calibration verifications using traceable probes further validate the sensors' accuracy, providing reliability and confidence in the mapping results. 

Embracing Technology for Temperature Mapping 

Asset Intelligence: Utilizing AI and machine learning to analyze temperature mapping data can uncover deeper insights, enabling proactive adjustments and predictive maintenance. 

IoT Platform: Integrating data loggers with IoT platforms can provide real-time monitoring and alerts, enhancing responsiveness to temperature deviations. 

Sustainability: Implementing energy-efficient practices based on mapping data can contribute to sustainability goals, reducing energy consumption and carbon footprint. 

Improving Safety, Quality, and Compliance

Temperature mapping is a vital process for ensuring the safety and quality of temperature-sensitive products. By understanding and controlling the temperature distribution within storage environments, companies can prevent product loss, ensure regulatory compliance, and enhance overall operational efficiency. Embracing advanced technologies and data analytics further enhances the effectiveness of temperature mapping, driving better decision-making and innovation in product storage and transportation. 

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Stephen Newman

Stephen is the Head of Marketing for Checkit