low-temperature-freezer

Responding to Freezer Temperature Problems During COVID Lab Restrictions

Like all laboratory equipment, freezers are susceptible to failure — with a loss of proper storage temperature being one of the most common culprits. And when these events occur, the loss can be tremendous. 

We saw it in 2012 when the Harvard Brain Tissue Research Center had a freezer temperature malfunction that damaged the world’s largest storage of autistic brain samples, and more recently in 2019 when a temperature failure destroyed 56 stem cell samples from pediatric cancer patients at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

While these experiences speak to the importance of a proactive plan to monitor and address freezer temperature problems, labs are also operating within the confines of strict COVID-related health and safety standards that limit the number of personnel on-site at any given time. So while there is more pressure to keep samples protected, there is less support inside the lab to respond to freezer temperature problems. This begs the question of how to balance the two elements.

With Labs Sparsely Populated, New Gaps Can Emerge

Prior to COVID-19, labs were once a bustling workplace with entire teams together on-site. Now, it is rare for labs to have more than one to two people on-site at a time, and it is especially rare to have any personnel in the lab on weekends or holidays. Statistically speaking, based on the number of hours in a week, labs are currently occupied less than 40% of the time. And when a limited number of personnel are on-site, they are focused on lab experiments and not on housekeeping tasks like checking freezer temperatures.

Due to this limited window of time when personnel are in the lab, combined with the lack of support on-hand in those instances, it’s likely that no one will be on-site or notice when a freezer temperature problem does occur. This means that a freezer failure could go undetected for a day or more — and by then, some or all of the samples may be compromised. This leaves the lab in the position of a possible loss of irreplaceable research, harm to their reputation and having to handle large financial burdens.

Investing in the Right Technology to Stay Informed of Problems

Lab freezer failures can happen at any time, and leave behind a path of destruction if they go unnoticed. With fewer workers inside lab environments, it’s more important than ever before that staff are notified remotely of freezer temperature problems as they occur so they can address the problem quickly and keep samples safe.

At CORIS, we’ve developed a cloud-based remote monitoring system that alerts lab personnel of freezer temperature problems in real-time via text, email or phone. Our software will continue to repeat the alert until the issue is resolved and escalate the alert if the temperature inside the freezer continues to rise. Once your freezer returns to its normal temperature, you’ll receive an alert to notify you that your equipment is back up and running in its optimal condition.

Does CORIS technology seem like it could benefit your lab operations? Try our free trial — and see what our temperature monitoring system can do first-hand.

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