At the height of the pandemic, the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic provided a glimpse into their “freezer farm” designed for COVID-19 vaccine storage. Inside a secure area stood rows of ultra-cold storage units — 16 altogether — with extra units available if one of them were to fail.

An Introduction to Freezer Farms

A freezer farm refers to a collection of ultra-low cold storage units designed to preserve biological samples for extended periods. These long-term storage units are often arranged in rows, which evokes the idea of rows of crops. 

The pandemic undoubtedly gave prominence to freezer farms, as the need to preserve and store large quantities of vaccines became increasingly critical. While we can see this in the Cleveland Clinic example, the same goes for The University of Arizona. They developed their own freezer farm with eight storage freezers that could accommodate 1.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. It was the university’s way of supporting the state’s plan for vaccine distribution.

Beyond vaccine distribution, freezer farms play a critical role in other areas, too. For example, universities rely on freezer farms as a key part of their research infrastructure.

The Use of Freezer Farms for University Research

Many universities are home to core facilities, where research is conducted. One lab may be focused on cell biology research, for instance, while another may be focused on material science investigations.

As one example, RPI’s Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) is a nearly 300,000 square-foot facility. It is home to 31 individual research laboratories and nine core facilities.

While having diverse research in a single facility supports collaboration and knowledge sharing, it also supports shared resource optimization. Freezer farms are part of these centralized resources. Researchers from different labs can store biological samples within these rows of cold storage units to support their own individual projects.

At the same time, freezer farms in university core facilities support long-term sample archiving. Having a repository of biological specimens helps accelerate and advance future research on disease and other critical investigation areas.

Integrating Temperature Monitoring Into Freezer Farms

Freezer farms are only as effective as their ability to be properly managed and maintained. Hospitals and research centers alike need to be able to monitor the integrity and viability of stored samples around the clock. After all, as noted in a Boston University article, “[T]he financial impact of freezer failures can be significant, potentially costing millions of dollars.”

Temperature monitoring is integrated into a freezer farm through the strategic placement of sensors across all freezers. When sensors detect deviations from predefined thresholds, they trigger real-time alerts to lab personnel so they can take swift action and maintain quality control.

One of the benefits of the CORIS temperature monitoring system in the context of a freezer farm is the ability to customize alerts. With the Teams feature, users only receive alerts for freezers relevant to their respective research/labs. While minimizing alert fatigue, the feature also enables staff to generate reports for their respective freezers to simplify compliance.

Learn more about how CORIS can ensure the safety of samples in your freezer farm, while creating an ideal experience for users. Contact us to get the conversation started.

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