In July 2014, six vials of smallpox virus were discovered in an unsecured cold room on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland by a FDA scientist. Further investigation determined that the vials did indeed contain live virus and had not been known to the FDA or NIH for roughly 50 years, the length of time they had been sitting in storage. This situation sheds light on one of the more extreme risks of a lack of biological sample inventory, but there are a multitude of benefits to having accurate and efficient sample inventory management too. From safety and security to energy efficiency and time savings, having a high-quality inventorying management method is the way to go. Claudio Rolli of FLUICS GmbH in Germany wrote the following guest blog post about sustainable inventory management.
Samples that are stored in your refrigerators, freezers, and cryo-storage are unique and precious. It is either a lot of effort to produce or collect them, or they are expensive to buy. Typically, many different reagents such as buffers and purification resins, as well as consumables like tubes, tips, and flasks are needed to prepare the bio-samples before they finally make their way to long-term storage. Also, for ethical reasons, one is advised not to waste human or animal derived samples such as biopsies and blood that are used for cell cultures or extraction of antibodies.
Storing biological samples under frozen condition consumes significant energy. For example, a single ultra-low temperature freezer running at -80 ºC consumes as much electricity as a household of four. The actual energy consumption also depends on how often and for how long the freezers are opened as well as how much ice is allowed to accumulate inside – a result of condensation which decreases the efficiency of cooling and increases the total energy consumption. Therefore, labs should only fill their storage spaces with well-labeled samples instead of jamming them up with poorly labeled or even outdated material.
Two main attributes of your samples should be considered to quickly find what you are looking for within cold storage units, reducing excessive energy consumption:
Comparison of mobile inventory management vs.
Mobile Inventory Management
Keeping a lab's sample inventory up to date is key for reducing the number of needed freezers, minimizing excessive energy consumption from repeatedly opening cold storage units, and efficiently using valuable cold storage space in the lab.
To learn more about mobile inventory management and QR codes for samples visit the FLUICS CONNECT website.
Written by Dr. Claudio Rolli, FLUICS GmbH, 80333 Munich, Germany
The deadline for the Freezer Challenge is July 1st!
The Freezer Challenge is run by the non-profits My Green Lab and I2SL and is supported by our generous sponsors: Eppendorf, Stirling Ultracold, PHCbi, and Thermo Fisher Scientific.