Reduce the risk of loss in laboratories: temperature monitoring at Melbourne University

By Testo Pty Ltd
Friday, 19 June, 2015 | Supplied by: Testo Pty Ltd

In laboratories and hospitals, temperature values have the highest priority. Medicines, vaccines, laboratory samples, blood products, tissue samples and bio-samples in cold storage need defined, constant temperatures in order not to be compromised. Without constant temperature monitoring, the risk of loss is greatly increased.

Losses can have significant monetary value in insurance claims and impact on research continuity. These losses may be from a few thousand dollars up to several million dollars but, more importantly, any loss can disrupt the continuity of the biomedical and scientific research or waste invaluable blood and other medical samples. This can directly impact the progress of scientific research, the research scientists, research students, research output, funding bodies, research partners and even the general community.

Melbourne University has a considerable number of research bio-samples that are stored in cold storage facilities located across the many faculties, departments, hospital departments and research institutions that make up the university. Many bio-samples are stored in scientific ultracold freezers, laboratory and domestic fridges and freezers, cool rooms and freezer rooms and a variety of liquid nitrogen storage vessels. Some of these have local temperature monitoring devices and alarms, but the majority do not.

The university and its research groups would not want to suffer significant losses to their research if a cold storage facility that contained their research biomaterials failed. This could result in substantial losses - not only in research material, but in millions of dollars. A monitoring and alarm system forms a key part of a freezer/cold storage management system that the university is developing.

The monitoring and alarm system will allow Melbourne University to keep a check on the operating conditions of its many cold storage facilities. In the first instance, the system will be used to monitor fridges and freezers across the university. This will allow for the collection of temperature data and temperature monitoring for each individual cold storage facility.

The collected data will be useful for facilities management, preventive maintenance programs and sustainable and efficient energy use of cold storage facilities. Fridge and freezer units can be adjusted to their optimal operating temperatures. The collected data can also be used by researchers to verify that their cold-stored biomaterials are stored at the required temperatures.

The alarm feature of the system will notify key personnel within the university when significant temperature changes occur in individual fridges or freezers. The temperature changes could adversely affect the research biomaterials or even indicate the failure of the cold storage equipment. The alarm will allow key staff to take preventive action before the bio-samples are significantly affected by changes in temperature.

The system will provide the researchers with information about the condition of their fridges and freezers; but more importantly, it will send out an alarm when there is a problem with the temperature of their valuable cold-stored research samples. In the event of a cold storage facility failure, the alarm feature will give the researchers every opportunity to save valuable research biomaterials and prevent losses to their research.

The testo Saveris system is a flexible off-the-shelf monitoring and alarm system that is designed for easy installation and operation. It is designed to monitor and collect data for reporting, while sending notification alarms, with software that is easy to use.

The system features ‘local wireless networks’ (probes and converters), together with communication ‘over the internet’ (converters and base station) for monitoring and alarm transmission. It only requires a small number of dedicated IP addresses for a large number of monitoring points. Saveris monitoring probes can easily be reassigned if a laboratory is relocated or a fridge or freezer needs to be relocated or replaced. It is said to be a cost-effective system compared to a number of other commercially available systems.

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