The advantages of digital temperature monitoring for laboratories
Ensuring materials are kept at consistent, stable temperatures is crucial to the successful operation of every type of laboratory. Whether storing blood components, clinical trials samples or chemical compounds, it is vital that they are protected from going out of strictly defined temperature ranges, which would render them useless and potentially impact experimental research, blood supplies and, most crucially, patient health.
Consequently, having high quality temperature monitoring data is essential for regulatory compliance, whatever is being stored in the laboratory.
However, traditional methods of recording temperatures are manual, time-consuming and fail to give a full picture of what is actually happening. In many cases staff have to physically take readings and then enter them into spreadsheets, meaning they spend hours carrying out checks rather than useful laboratory work.
Digital technology now provides a perfect alternative to manual methods. Automated, wireless monitoring continuously captures data through sensors within fridges, freezers and other equipment, and then uploads it to the cloud, where managers can see it, wherever they are. If temperature readings move outside predetermined parameters alerts can be sent to staff, at any time, day or night, through warnings on local PCs, email and text messages.
Digital work management systems can also be used to prompt staff when other tasks are due, for instance hygiene or health and safety checks. It interactively guides them through the processes that they need to carry out, helping them ensure that all laboratory procedures are undertaken consistently.
Moving to digital technology delivers three main benefits in the laboratory:
1. Continuous data recording
Automated systems are programmed to send out warnings and alerts when temperatures move outside their safe parameters. This means that staff can be contacted at any time, day or night, whether they are on- or off-site and a response quickly organised. Such safeguards are particularly important for labs that are not staffed 24×7, meaning that on-call employees can take swift action should a problem arise. As monitoring is continuous and can be viewed by managers when off-site, they can also see the background to any problems, such as a rise in temperatures over time, and take proactive action before they escalate further.
2. Increasing productivity
Highly skilled laboratory staff still spend a great deal of time manually monitoring equipment temperatures every day. Automating the process means this time can be focused on more critical activities, improving efficiency and boosting productivity while still safeguarding samples.
3. Aiding compliance:
Regulators usually require laboratories to provide full electronic traceability across the cold chain. Collecting the data for this manually is time-consuming and there is always the possibility of transcription errors when it is recorded and entered into spreadsheets. Ensuring it is in the right form for regulators and assessors also adds to managers’ workloads. Wireless monitoring automates the data collection process, and ensures it is available, in the right format, at a touch of a button to share with external bodies. This makes preparing for assessments simpler and faster.
Ensuring that samples are stored correctly is vital for laboratories if they want to operate successfully and comply with industry regulations. Moving to digital technology automates temperature monitoring of samples, while freeing up staff and making compliance easier, making it a crucial next step for laboratories of all types.
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