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How a Lab lost 33% of the world’s largest collection of autistic brain samples.

So, how safe is your freezer?

This year as a direct result of an un-expected freezer failure, a laboratory lost 1/3 of their collection of autistic brain samples after a freezer failure. To put this into context, their collection is the world’s largest and therefore, the autistic research community now has a massive gap in their research continuity.

In this case, as so often,  there were no clues of potential failure.  No performance temperature data was being collected, examined or checked for variations in performance. 

This sad example highlights how low-cost automated monitoring systems alone are not the answer. In the case of the lost brain samples, it is possible the automated system did sense the rising internal temperatures.  But it could only send out automated phone calls or texts to a list of employees and go down the list until someone acknowledges the call. It’s possible that someone got a call over the weekend, but decided to wait to check it when they arrived Monday morning. But whatever the reason, it was too late!

The health of a freezer is critical to the safe storage of samples; a deviation of temperature, no matter how brief or how small, may ruin one’s life’s work or that of a team.

Could monitoring data have spotted the failure in time?

In the retail sector, where the potential loss of stock and margin erosion is a constant issue,  the widespread use of real time monitoring means they are safeguarding not only valuable inventory in their fridges and freezers, but also simultaneously improving customer experience and reducing their energy consumption.  The wealth of data collected provides critical insight to empower informed decisions, at all management levels, to reduce risk.

The Tutela monitoring system is currently protecting fridges and freezers in pharma, biotech, and academic labs, as well as over 1000 sites around the NHS, every minute of every day.  We have uncovered valuable insights into the behaviour of these fridges and freezers, discovering performance differences by usage; even supplier. The effects of ambient temperatures, doors left open or poor seals, can all be monitored, and data collected and benchmarked to enable best practice over large sites; even purchasing policy.

The potential to save money and reduce loss is enormous, but automated calling systems can give a false sense of security.

We all prefer talking to real people

I started this article with the example of the automated system calling notification that was ignored and the substantial loss that can occur as a result.

The simple fact is not only do we prefer talking to real people, we also take this sort of contact more seriously than an automatically generated text for example. Tutela provide a fully trained alarm response team, who can contact your employees personally, clearly describing the problem in clear easily-understood language. The potential seriousness of the excursion is then acknowledged, an incident report is raised and a follow up action emailed. This kicks off the audit trail and lessons for the future can be learned.

What is temperature mapping?

Why can’t I just trust the digital display on my freezer?

Back to frozen samples, almost always we rely on the marked digital display to reassure us that our samples are still frozen. However the displayed temperatures does not reflect the variances of actual internal temperature from location to location within your freezer. This inconsistency is due, in part, to the position of the temperature sensors inside the freezer, but how the freezer is loaded can also have an effect.

Typically, sensors are positioned at the top, middle and bottom of the inner compartments. It’s worth reviewing the manufacturer’s test data for your freezer to learn of the temperature lag and precisely where the temperature sensors are positioned. Temperature mapping services provide a highly accurate picture of temperature gradients and behaviour within the unit. 

Tutela offer a full, on-site automated solution for mapping temperature excursions, in conjunction with Tutela Monitoring Systems ISO17025 accreditation for calibration.

Because the wireless data loggers are sited internally within the device being mapped, no cables protrude through fixture seals, providing a real situation mapping report.

This is less disruptive, compliant to the Orange book (MHRA) and detailed to meet rigorous certification needs.

Our goals are simple

With clear leadership and independent temperature and data monitoring of healthcare Biotech and Pharma biology assets, together Tutela aim to partner and Improve health outcomes, protect reputations and support the researcher and his team.

We protect your businesses and organisations from catastrophic loss and damage which cannot be recovered and provide auditable data for future trending and preventable loss. 

contact us for more information

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