Like businesses and schools, laboratories are facing the dilemma of how to balance operations with the health and safety of personnel in the midst of COVID-19. While proper on-site protocols are keeping safety at the forefront, universities and organizations are also making an effort to limit the number of staff on-site at any given time, adhering to the minimum needed for operations.
With more staff working from home, the outlook on daily operations — like monitoring lab freezer temperatures — is naturally shifting. Many facilities have long relied on physical checks of freezer parameters to monitor performance, using the data collected to prevent future issues and address existing problems to ensure research samples remain protected. But with fewer lab staff on-site, this old model raises some new concerns.
Data Siloed Inside the Lab Walls Can Cause Breakdowns
With the safety of research samples in mind, lab freezer temperature data is important to all personnel. While most apparent with regards to lab freezer failures that need to be addressed, there’s also innate value in being able to analyze temperature patterns to keep an eye out for anomalies before they evolve into problems.
When everyone was in the lab, this exchange of information was easier. If a staff member who manually checked the temperature of a freezer had a question or a concern, they could readily share their findings with other staff on-site and bring service technicians in if needed.
Now, there are limitations on both sides of the equation. Without the right technology in place, logged data will not be made accessible to staff working from home, leaving some in the dark until they return to the workplace. Paired with the fact that special requests may be needed to have technicians or additional staff on-site, it’s easy to see how freezer problems have room to grow in the face of these obstacles.
On-Site Personnel Strapped for Time Feel Added Pressure
While lab personnel dedicate a good percentage of their time to research activities, they are also recruited to help with administrative efforts — a list that tends to include lab equipment maintenance. Under the guidance of principal investigators or lab managers, lab staff is often responsible for manual data collection from lab freezers and refrigerators, ensuring that all equipment is operating in their proper temperature ranges.
These manual checks take time and detract from efficiency in the lab. But when you put manually monitoring lab freezer temperatures into the context of today’s workplace, the problem exacerbates itself.
Aside from the fact that labs are operating at limited capacities, personnel also have to perform additional steps to adhere to safety standards — from regularly checking and resupplying PPE to frequent cleaning and disinfecting surfaces/equipment. The combination of these extra tasks leads to added stresses and increases the chances of human error.
The Shift Toward an Automated Remote Temperature Monitoring System
In light of COVID-19, laboratories have pivoted to maintain safe operations. With those changes has come the need to invest in technologies that keep lab personnel connected to one another and lab equipment, no matter where they are. Remote temperature monitoring systems like the one from CORIS are designed to do just that.
Our cloud-based system offers continuous monitoring of lab freezer temperatures, so staff can oversee the real-time performance of equipment from inside the lab or at home. In the event temperatures dip below or rise above their optimal range, lab personnel can be promptly notified of the issue via text, email or phone — as well as be notified when the issue has been resolved.
Interested in trying out our remote temperature monitoring system? Take advantage of our free trial.