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Temperature mapping of storage areas: Ensuring Reliable Environmental Control and Compliance

Temperature mapping of storage areas: Ensuring Reliable Environmental Control and Compliance

In various industries, maintaining proper temperature control within critical areas is essential to ensure product quality, integrity, and regulatory compliance. Temperature mapping of storage areas is a systematic process that involves monitoring and analyzing temperature distribution within a defined space, such as a storage area, manufacturing facility, or transportation vehicle. This practice helps identify temperature variations, hotspots, and potential risks to product stability. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of temperature mapping, its importance, methodologies, and best practices for effective implementation.

I. Understanding Temperature Mapping

A. Definition and Purpose:

  1. Definition: Explain temperature mapping as a process that involves the systematic measurement and analysis of temperature distribution within a defined space to ensure environmental control and regulatory compliance.
  2. Purpose of Temperature Mapping: Discuss how temperature mapping helps identify temperature variations, potential risks, and critical areas within a controlled environment.

B. Regulatory Requirements and Standards:

  1. Industry-Specific Guidelines: Highlight relevant industry guidelines and regulations, such as Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), Good Distribution Practices (GDP), or storage and transportation guidelines, that require temperature mapping to ensure product quality and compliance.
  2. International Standards: Discuss the relevance of international standards, such as ISO 9001, ISO 17025, or WHO-PQS, in defining temperature mapping requirements and best practices.

C. Importance of Temperature Mapping:

  1. Product Quality and Stability: Explain how temperature mapping helps ensure consistent environmental conditions, preventing temperature excursions that can compromise product quality, integrity, and stability.
  2. Regulatory Compliance: Discuss how temperature mapping is crucial for demonstrating compliance with regulatory requirements, providing documented evidence of environmental control.
  3. Risk Identification and Mitigation: Highlight how temperature mapping helps identify potential risks, such as cold spots, heat spots, or temperature fluctuations, allowing for appropriate mitigation strategies.

II. Methodologies for Temperature Mapping

A. Mapping Study Design:

  1. Define the Scope: Discuss the importance of defining the scope of the temperature mapping study, including the target area, equipment, product types, and relevant temperature ranges.
  2. Sensor Placement: Explain the strategic placement of temperature sensors to capture accurate and representative temperature data, considering factors such as product proximity, equipment airflow, and critical locations.
  3. Study Duration: Discuss the recommended duration of the temperature mapping study, considering factors such as product stability, seasonal variations, and operational conditions.

B. Data Collection and Analysis:

  1. Data Loggers and Sensors: Discuss the types of data loggers and sensors used for temperature mapping, including thermocouples, data loggers, or wireless sensors, and their placement for comprehensive data collection.
  2. Data Monitoring: Explain the importance of continuous data monitoring during the temperature mapping study to capture temperature fluctuations and identify trends.
  3. Data Analysis: Discuss the analytical techniques and software used to analyze temperature data, including statistical analysis, graphical representation, and identification of hotspots, cold spots, or temperature deviations.

C. Factors Affecting Temperature Mapping:

  1. Environmental Factors: Explain how environmental conditions, such as ambient temperature, humidity, airflow patterns, or insulation, can impact temperature distribution within a mapped area.
  2. Equipment Performance: Discuss how equipment, such as HVAC systems, cooling units, or insulation materials, can affect temperature uniformity and stability within the mapped area.
  3. Operational Considerations: Highlight the significance of considering operational factors, such as door openings, loading patterns, or equipment maintenance, that can influence temperature distribution.

III. Best Practices for Temperature Mapping

A. Preparing for a Temperature Mapping Study:

  1. Study Protocol: Discuss the importance of developing a comprehensive study protocol that outlines the study objectives, methodology, acceptance criteria, and responsibilities of personnel involved.
  2. Sensor Calibration: Highlight the necessity of calibrating temperature sensors and data loggers to ensure accurate and reliable temperature measurements.
  3. Mapping During Normal Operations: Explain the benefits of conducting temperature mapping studies under normal operational conditions to capture real-time temperature variations and identify potential risks.

B. Documentation and Reporting:

  1. Detailed Records: Discuss the importance of maintaining detailed records of the temperature mapping study, including sensor placement, data collection, deviations, and corrective actions taken.
  2. Report Generation: Explain the components of a comprehensive temperature mapping report, including study objectives, methodology, results, data analysis, and recommendations for corrective actions or improvements.

C. Ongoing Monitoring and Maintenance:

  1. Regular Temperature Monitoring: Highlight the significance of implementing a robust temperature monitoring system to ensure ongoing compliance and early detection of temperature deviations.
  2. Maintenance and Calibration: Discuss the importance of regular maintenance and calibration of temperature monitoring equipment to ensure accurate and reliable temperature measurements.

IV. Compliance and Auditing

A. Regulatory Compliance:

  1. Documentation for Regulatory Agencies: Explain how temperature mapping reports and documentation are essential for demonstrating compliance during regulatory inspections and audits.
  2. Audit Readiness: Highlight the importance of maintaining accurate and up-to-date temperature mapping records to ensure readiness for regulatory audits and inspections.

B. Corrective Actions and Continuous Improvement:

  1. Corrective Actions: Discuss the importance of implementing corrective actions to address temperature deviations, equipment malfunctions, or process inefficiencies identified during temperature mapping studies.
  2. Continuous Improvement: Emphasize the value of leveraging temperature mapping data and findings to drive continuous improvement initiatives, optimizing environmental control and operational efficiency.

Temperature mapping of storage areas

The purpose of a temperature mapping study is to document and control the temperature distribution within a storage area.

Temperature mapping of storage areas is a systematic mapping procedure in any cold room, freezer room, or another temperature-controlled store.

This guideline does not cover the mapping of small-scale cold chain equipment such as refrigerators or freezers.

The following Technical Supplements are also relevant:
Checking the accuracy of temperature control and monitoring devices.
Qualification of temperature-controlled road vehicles.
Qualification of temperature-controlled storage areas.
Temperature and humidity monitoring systems for transport operations.

All new temperature-controlled storage areas must be temperature-mapped as part of a fully documented verification process before the installation is commissioned and handed over by the installer

The temperature mapping procedures should:

demonstrate the air temperature profile throughout the storage area, when empty and in a normal loaded condition;
define zones that should not be used for storage of TTSPPs (for example areas in close proximity to cooling coils, cold airstreams, or heat sources).
if required, demonstrate the time taken for temperatures to exceed the designated limits in the event of a power failure Depending upon the routine monitoring strategy, subsequent mapping exercises may also be required periodically – for example, every three years – in order to demonstrate continuing compliance fixed monitors provide continuous data and a periodic re-evaluation that assesses all aspects of system performance since the initial mapping may be more appropriate.

Re-mapping may be justified whenever analysis of temperature and/or humidity monitoring records shows unexplained variability outside normal operating limits

A temperature-mapping exercise is required for any space allocated for the storage and handling of products with a specified labeled storage temperature. This includes freezer rooms, cold rooms, temperature-controlled storage areas, quarantine areas, and receiving and loading bays, and may also include laboratories.

The permitted temperature ranges in these areas will vary – for example, −25.0 °C to −10.0 °C, 2.0 °C to 8.0 °C, or 15.0 °C to 25.0 °C.

A mapping study establishes the temperature distribution within the zone being mapped and locates hot and cold spots.

The temperature-mapping process has four stages:
a. Prepare a mapping protocol.
b. Carry out the mapping exercise.
c. Prepare a mapping report.
d. Implement the recommendations by carrying out the remedial and other actions identified in the mapping report. A follow-up mapping exercise may then be needed to verify the effectiveness of the remedial actions.

A mapping operation requires a sufficient number of electronic data logging monitors (EDLMs) to ensure that the temperature distribution in the space to be mapped is adequately characterized.

The selected EDLMs must:

be technically suitable for the specific mapping task and for the intended operating environment.

provide a reliable and continuous record of time-temperature data.

have an appropriate temperature range so that all anticipated temperature extremes can be recorded (e.g. from −30 °C to +60 °C).

have a user-programmable data sampling period, allowing time intervals to be set in the range from 1 minute to 15 minutes (maximum) and sufficient memory for the intended length of the study and the chosen recording interval.

have a US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)- traceable 3-point calibration certificate with a guaranteed error of no more than ± 0.5 °C at each calibration point.

enable the recorded time-temperature data to be downloaded to a computer system for subsequent analysis.

have data storage and analytical software that complies with applicable regulatory requirements (for example 21 CFR part 11).


Temperature mapping is a critical process in ensuring reliable environmental control and compliance within various industries. By systematically measuring and analyzing temperature distribution, organizations can identify potential risks, implement necessary corrective actions, and maintain product quality and regulatory compliance. Through effective study design, data collection and analysis, and ongoing monitoring and maintenance, temperature mapping provides a comprehensive understanding of temperature variations and enables proactive management of critical areas. By following best practices, documenting findings, and implementing corrective actions, organizations can ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, mitigate risks, and continuously improve their environmental control systems. Temperature mapping is an essential tool for maintaining product integrity, protecting consumer safety, and upholding industry standards in diverse sectors such as pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, healthcare, and logistics.

Reference: Temperature mapping of storage areas (WHO Technical Report Series, No. 961, 2011, Annex 9)

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About Pharmaceutical Guidanace

Ms. Abha Maurya is the Author and founder of pharmaceutical guidance, he is a pharmaceutical Professional from India having more than 18 years of rich experience in pharmaceutical field. During his career, he work in quality assurance department with multinational company’s i.e Zydus Cadila Ltd, Unichem Laboratories Ltd, Indoco remedies Ltd, Panacea Biotec Ltd, Nectar life Science Ltd. During his experience, he face may regulatory Audit i.e. USFDA, MHRA, ANVISA, MCC, TGA, EU –GMP, WHO –Geneva, ISO 9001-2008 and many ROW Regularities Audit i.e.Uganda,Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe. He is currently leading a regulatory pharmaceutical company as a head Quality. You can join him by Email, Facebook, Google+, Twitter and YouTube

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