Losing precious samples when a freezer’s power fails. Incubator temperature fluctuations altering experimental conditions. These are some of the most worrisome scenarios for laboratory scientists. Biologists spend hours carefully crafting experiments. They use a range of instruments to store, incubate, and collect samples and generate important data. Unpredictable pieces of equipment destroy precious samples and ruin expensive, time-sensitive experiments. Therefore, tracking instrument status and performance, even during off-work hours, is a critical aspect of laboratory management. Remote monitoring systems offer a safety net for precious samples when laboratory equipment fails.
A scientist faces many challenges in their day-to-day activities related to laboratory equipment. Equipment malfunctions due to technical or human error lead to workflow interruptions and downtime. Often researchers cannot quickly or easily access instrument manuals when troubleshooting or performing routine maintenance. Moreover, academic laboratories and collaborative research platforms house multiple instruments whose maintenance requires additional information beyond the manual, such as location and active users. Digitizing instrument documents, service requirements, and user information offers an easy solution to maintenance woes.
In addition to equipment maintenance, sample security is paramount for scientists. Biological samples deteriorate if internal device conditions change. For example, cell culture samples in incubators are sensitive to environmental fluctuations, so researchers must monitor their ambient temperature, humidity, gas levels, and sterility. For sensitive cultures, such as pluripotent stem cells and organoids, process standardization and documentation are crucial to ensure constant growth conditions. Such data allow researchers to validate reproducibility in audits and publications.
In a typical laboratory, constantly tracking multiple freezers, incubators, shakers, thermal cyclers, and centrifuges is time consuming and generates sizeable data. Cloud computing provides storage, tracking, and networking resources so that scientists can analyze and integrate large data volumes generated for laboratory management. VisioNize® Lab Suite is a software that offers researchers a one-stop cloud solution to manage their laboratories efficiently and digitally. The platform includes features such as remote monitoring with alert notifications, complete device documentation, maintenance planning, data compliance, and automatic software updates.
In case of instrument failure or upcoming maintenance tasks, the laboratory manager and other resource personnel receive timely alerts. Researchers can set custom alarm notifications, such as alerts when a freezer door is open for longer than 30 minutes or temperatures rise above -70 °C. With Visionize Lab Suite, these alerts can be customized for an individual or a group of people depending on the laboratory needs and task urgency. A response-based alarm escalation scheme offers enhanced notification options where multiple users get error notifications. Each user can acknowledge or reject the notification from their email or mobile phone. These acknowledgment entries also include user feedback and get recorded in the audit log with time stamps, which is especially beneficial to researchers in regulated laboratories. Moreover, the ability to access the details of each alarm event allows researchers to make an informed decision on what to do with their samples. For example, if incubator conditions were constant until the alarm was set off and a manager immediately noticed, the samples inside may not have been compromised. Researchers also have access to time-stamped data logs for tracking all previous alarms if they need to verify sample conditions.
To help customers organize and share device data, this platform offers tools required to securely connect, collaborate, and analyze data in one integrated solution. An experimenter can access other users’ activities, such as user interventions and device performance changes. Researchers can remotely access instrument performance data using VisioNize Lab Suite at any time and from any location. Ultimately, digitization with VisioNize Lab Suite offers easy and efficient remote device monitoring so that researchers can ensure sample and equipment safety in real time.