How a Web-Based 24/7 Monitoring System Works

Problem: At this very moment across the United States, thousands of digital eyes watch over laboratory equipment. It’s nothing scary; it’s the way we protect fragile samples from being damaged or destroyed. From facilities stocked with vaccines for the flu season ahead, to embryos frozen for future fertility treatments, life and livelihoods are literally on the line. For this reason, laboratories use continuous monitoring systems to closely watch over the environment of their specimens during experimental, growth and storage phases.

By

How it Works Monitoring Header

Monitoring software continuously scans variables including temperature, pressure and CO2 levels, as well as the power and health of storage equipment motors. All data is stored for ongoing analysis and for compliance with external agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration. Perhaps most critically, when something goes awry, alarms are sounded, preventing emergencies such as equipment malfunctions from spiraling into the loss of high-value samples.

Monitoring systems have come a long way since the earliest redundant (secondary) probes were installed for back-up temperature readings. Despite this, they are far from perfect. Few products offer complete solutions, and there are many common weaknesses. These include an inability to customize alarms, which results in blanket alerts or false emergencies that undermine real calls to action. In modern times, systems also need to record the monitoring data as proof for regulatory reports. The final consideration is ease of use. Install a difficult program, or one that only works with specific software, and staff just won’t want to use it.

Solution: What is needed is a monitoring system that delivers data from the lab directly into the hands of the user, accessible 24/7, from home or on your smartphone. Wherever you are, digital eyes would be watching over your inventory, ready to alert you with preprogrammed, modifiable alarms. If emergencies strike, real-time data would fill in the gaps and context, allowing you to gauge the best possible response. One recent example of a product designed with this omnipotent capacity is the LabAlert Monitoring System by Panasonic Healthcare (www.labalert.com).

With LabAlert, an infinite number of probes can be installed in equipment such as biorepositories or freezers, pulling together data from diverse geographic sites. LabAlert equipment independently logs continuous temperature, CO2 readings, opened doors—and more. Each probe sends data to a local receiver, which is then transmitted to the cloud and accessible through a web-based platform.

Designated lab managers and staff can gain 24-hour access to readings and program flexible alerts for when equipment fails or samples are otherwise put at risk. LabAlert is easy to install and intuitive to use. Instead of adding to your facility’s workload, the system streamlines data collection and safeguards your most precious cells, samples and supplies.

Logging on to the LabAlert monitoring system is as easy as signing into a regular email account. Through any Internetconnected phone (iOS or Android), tablet, or computer, staff can access the website and log in for real-time data tracking. Information is presented on an intuitive dashboard that can be readily personalized for each team member. Staff can control the information they receive in their feed, without affecting their colleagues’ monitoring capabilities.

LabAlert alarms are also highly specific; detailing what is happening, what response is needed, and how quickly corrections must take place. Frequent, nonspecific warnings may eventually be overlooked or, worse, simply add to unwanted annoying “noise.” With LabAlert, managers can specifically target the key people that need to respond to an emergency. Users can adjust the signals they receive as the experiment changes, or depending on who is on hand to help. Alarms are programmed according to urgency: a few beeps if temperatures dip or a phone call if equipment is failing. Once alerted, real-time data availability provides the full story, allowing scientists to see that, for example, equipment is naturally recovering, and the only action required is for them to go back to sleep. Sometimes, the alarm will correspond to rapidly deteriorating equipment, but caught early enough, scientists can act before samples are damaged.

Mistakes and equipment failures are always a consideration. The variable is how adequately your alarm systems provide backup. A comprehensive monitoring system can catch and prevent specimen damage while providing regulatory data that proves cell viability was never lost.

Learn more about LabAlert at www.labalert.com 

Categories: How it Works

Published In

Building a Dream Team Magazine Issue Cover
Building a Dream Team

Published: December 11, 2014

Cover Story

Building a Dream Team

"We will put our best team on this one,” is a common refrain in many circles and is regularly heard in laboratories as directors seek to reassure customers and other stakeholders about delivering accurate and reliable results by deadlines. 

Featured Articles

Laboratory Accreditation

What is the value of laboratory accreditation? Whom does it benefit? And what are those benefits? What is the standard of competence? What value does accreditation have from an internationally recognized body such as the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation?

Automating Your Lab

The concept of lab automation sounds almost magical, as if a sophisticated machine here or there makes a lab run by itself. Indeed, automation can improve the efficiency of a lab and more, but figuring out the best “here” or “there” creates the challenge.