Rationale: There are currently about 1000 mechanical – 80 degree Celsius freezers in use at UCSF. The majority of these freezers are used to store biomedical specimens for basic research, translational research, clinical trials, and prospective biobanking efforts.
To protect clinical research material stored in these freezers the performance of the freezers has to be monitored 24/7, and alarm information systems need to be in place informing owners about freezer malfunctions. Currently a central freezer monitoring service is offered through the Alarm Management program of the UCSF police department. The system is based on connecting freezers via a phone line to the police department. This monitoring model has certain disadvantages, such as the fact that it relies on the temperature gauge of the freezer itself (instead of an independent measurement) and the system only triggers an alarm without generating ongoing temperature/performance reports.
Protection of stored research biospecimens and human samples derived from clinical trials will be increased if a UCSF-wide monitoring system is made available to laboratories and investigators providing alarm surveillance services including constant temperature and energy reporting. Such a system will also guide preventative maintenance decisions by recording changes in freezer energy consumption over time, further enhancing the protection of stored material by reducing the instances of unexpected freezer malfunctions, and extending the life of the freezer asset.
Plan: Pilot implementation and testing of a remote freezer monitoring/surveillance system enabling investigators/laboratories to connect their freezers independent of campus location to an alarm/monitoring system that provides instant emergency alarm message functions and constant reports about temperature and energy consumption.
Criteria and metrics for success:
- Usability at all campus locations with Wifi access
- Liability of the system in recognizing alarm situations and generating alarm messages
- Liability in generation of data reporting (energy consumption) as guide for required preventative maintenance (further potential for energy-saving maintenance and repairs)
Approximate costs: Currently a system providing such services (klatu networks, TRAXX) is tested by the Facilities Management Group at UC San Diego. This application intends to leverage the ongoing UC San Diego to test whether the system is be suitable for UCSF and also to analyze whether this system could be recommend as standard to be used by all UCs. Estimated cost of establishing a pilot study at UCSF including surveillance and monitoring of 50 freezers are $50,000.
Additionally, implementing a technology that reports out on freezer energy consumption and that triggers maintenance and repairs could have a huge financial impact to UCSF’s bottom line (each low temperature freezer uses about as much energy in a year as a typical house) and part of these costs may be reimbursable in the long run if the system is approved by the California Public Utilities Commission as a viable energy efficiency measure under the UC/CSU/IOU Energy Efficiency Partnership program. The technology is currently under review by the SDG&E Emerging Technologies group, using data from UC San Diego as well as several other SDG&E customers.
Collaborators: Gail Lee (UCSF Facilities Services), Munn Maric (UCSF Facilities Services), Anna Levitt (UC San Diego Facilities Services), Jim Sobczyk (UCSF Campus Life Services “Freezer Farm”), Julie Auger (UCSF Research Resource Program), Britt-Marie Ljung (UCSF Pathology and Cancer Center Tissue Core), Hubert Stoppler (UCSF Cancer Center Tissue Core)
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