March 25, 2019
Key Features Your Temperature Monitoring System Should Have
Every lab temperature monitoring system in existence today is designed to meet the FDA 21 CFR Part 11 regulations. That doesn’t mean you can pick any one of them off the shelf and have it work correctly, never mind ideally, in your lab.
You still have some due diligence to do. And, not just because you are controlling variables that affect the safety and usefulness of your products which can, in turn, harm public health and safety.
Nearly every maker of temperature monitors and data loggers will offer automated models, wireless units offering real-time alerts if temperatures move outside acceptable parameters. All of them will also provide some level of cloud-based reporting capabilities.
We’ve talked before about what you need to consider when setting up optimum climate goals for your lab. You’ll need the requirements list you developed at that time to help you drill into the sales literature for the systems you want to evaluate to make sure each candidate meets those requirements.
Let’s go through the common elements in a little more detail. Then we’ll spotlight a couple of additional features that can really set one system apart from another.
Fully Automated Data Logging
The system you choose for your lab must automatically and accurately log data from a number of different sensors within your lab. Ambient temperatures in any freezer, refrigeration units, and incubators need to be captured as well as the room temperature.
Here are a few additional questions you need to ask about the primary data capturing capabilities of any system:
- How secure is it? Could someone hack into the system compromising the integrity of your entire operation?
- What level of technical support is offered? Fully automated does not mean flawless operation. What kind of help can you rely on and when is it available?
- Will it support an adequate number of loggers/sensors?
- How many users will it support?
You never want to stretch your system too thin. It’s easy to count the number of probes and sensors you might need, but you also need to account for the number of people in the lab that will need or want to keep tabs on temperature data.
Cloud-Based Monitoring with Real-Time Alerts
Wifi makes the system practical, providing automatic reporting alerts through a variety of channels to ensure you get the information you need immediately. The ability to get real-time alerts when temperatures move outside acceptable parameters is a must. The ability to receive these alerts on a number of different devices can be what separates one system from another.
Can you receive notifications via a desktop computer, a tablet, a smartphone, or a handheld device? And how does the data appear on that handheld device? Does it have a large screen display or a colored display to provide further data layers?
While you may read a lot about displays in the sales literature when considering the cloud capabilities of any system you also need to consider what happens to your data during a power outage. There are two questions to ask about that:
- What sort of external power supply or long-term battery backup does the system have?
- What sort of backup to wifi does it have in case of Internet outages? Is there a cellular backup, for example?
Unexpected bad weather or systems’ failures are the biggest threats to your lab’s climate controls, and they will happen. You need all the redundancy you can get in those situations.
Yes, one of the main reasons you are looking into a remote temperature monitoring system is to be in full compliance with FDA regulations. Perhaps you need to also meet specific vaccine storage or food service regulations and best practices as well.
Regardless of the initial driver to your decision, in the end, the system you choose must also be one that offers you a practical insight into your lab that can help you improve operations and efficiencies. You need to be able to see when temperatures spike in your lab each day so you can make adjustments to correct for that. You also need to be able to prevent false alarms due to the opening and closing of doors.
A few questions you need to ask about the reports your system creates are:
- Is there adequate data storage space? Do you need six months of data storage or one year? Do you have five different data points or five hundred?
- How customizable are the reports available? How much can you interact with them within the system?
The more that you can do within the confines of your system’s reporting structure, the more time you will save yourself.
Bonus Points Given for Flexibility
Once you have thoroughly evaluated the basic features of the monitoring systems you’re considering, it’s time to move on to the extra features each system offers. At this point, you may have one or two strong choices for your system, with very little differentiating one from the other.
Here’s where the unique characteristics of your lab and your operation are used to tip the balance. Earlier we talked about ensuring that your system can handle the correct amount of sensors or probes to cover your lab.
Now you need to consider the different types of sensors and probes your lab needs. A system can do one or both of these things to be considered flexible. It can do so by:
- Supporting the right types of probes to accommodate your needs. These include ambient, cryogenic or moderate and high precision temperature probes
- Supporting sensors that read a wider variety of items than just temperature. Probes for CO2 and humidity may be important in your lab, where light sensor or water leak detection probes may be more important in another
Chances are, one or both of these cover every contingency you might have, but a system that supports the addition of custom sensors could ensure you can meet future needs as well.
Turning Features into Benefits
Doing the due diligence outlined here will help you see the real benefits behind the features of the remote monitoring systems you evaluate. It will help you consider
- How secure the data logging is,
- How robust cloud delivery and storage is, and
- How customizable the reports are.
There is one further thing that the manufacturer of any system can do. Because most systems today are wireless, they don’t require a complicated installation, but it’s nice to know there is someone available to help ensure you get your system up and running quickly and correctly.
Senso Scientific has several different temperature monitoring system models to choose from so you can complete your due diligence right here. Contact us today and see how we can help you have a state-of-the-art system. Here is where you can get more information on wifi options, including the one the FDA uses in its own labs.