<h1 class="blog-h1">Finding The Right Cold Storage Solution for Your Needs</h1>
Low and ultra-low temperature freezers are critical to meeting the rapidly growing demand for -40°C to -80°C storage, specifically in the manufacturing, freezing, and storing of medicines, vaccines, and other life science products. These products require precise, reliable temperature control to ensure product and sample integrity and to remain in compliance with governmental regulations.
Finding the “just-right” solution for your specific life science application, however, can prove challenging. While it’s ideal to collaborate with an experienced cold storage solutions expert, there is benefit in understanding some of the options available for a medical laboratory, research or manufacturing facility, biorepository or other application.
<h2 class="blog-h2">Reach-In Ultra-Low Temperature Storage</h2>
Ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers provide low-temperature storage to preserve critical samples, vaccines, and other materials for long periods of time. Many life science materials are sensitive to temperature fluctuations and even small variations can negatively impact quality. A freezer with uniform cooling, built-in redundancy, and quick temperature recovery after door openings will help maintain consistency, minimizing the risk of temperature deviations.
<h2 class="blog-h2">Reach-In Controlled Freeze/Thaw Chambers</h2>
Controlled rate chambers are used for controlled freezing and thawing of biological samples and other materials. Their design allows for the cooling of samples at a controlled rate to protect sample integrity. Look for a controlled rate chamber that offers a rapid pulldown process that extends to the fluid core to avoid false freezing points and optimizes the freezing process.
<h2 class="blog-h2">Walk-in: Low Temperature Spaces</h2>
Walk-in cold room solutions are highly configurable and customizable to individual project or application needs. They typically cover a range of options including:
<h2 class="blog-h2">Bulk product/unfinished good storage</h2>
While -20°C is a typical set point for these systems, they can be engineered to fit multiple specifications to support the preservation and storage of biological and tissue donor samples/materials.
<h2 class="blog-h2">Stability rooms</h2>
At +13ºC to +40ºC, stability rooms are ideal for pharmaceutical/biopharmaceutical manufacturing, healthcare systems, research labs, universities, and other life sciences applications. Technological advances are emerging to simplify storage for this temperature range. For example, FARRAR offers both custom-engineered stability rooms and a prepackaged, top-mount, walk-in modular environmental chamber – FARRAR EcoFlex - that can be fully functioning within 24 hours of delivery. Witha temperature range of +4°C to +37°C and an energy-efficient variable speed evaporator and compressor, EcoFlex offers temperature uniformity, quiet/compact operation, and a refrigeration system that is factory-acceptance tested, charged, and operational before arrival.
<h2 class="blog-h2">Walk-in environmental chambers and suites</h2>
At -30°C to -40°C, these chambers and suites provide multi-temperature storage with multiple volumetric temperature uniformity (VTU) set points to meet the needs of blood/blood plasma storage and blast freeze applications.
<h2 class="blog-h2">Finished goods storage chambers</h2>
At +1ºC to +12ºC, with a +5°C=set point, these chambers store finished goods at a specific temperature to ensure product quality.
<h2 class="blog-h2">Consultative Approach</h2>
While you may have some idea if a reach-in or walk-in solution will best meet your needs, an experienced collaborator can help identify the specific solution for your application. Whether constructing a new building, upgrading an existing one, or simply adding ultra-low-temperature chambers, look for a collaborator who can draw on both experience and deep application knowledge to take on a careful planning process from start to finish.
Working with a full-service supplier can help simplify the lifecycle process by offering:
- Professional engineering design and drafting
- Project management
- Installation services
- Technical suppor
- Ongoing monitoring, maintenance, and service
Other key aspects to consider include:
- Flexible Setpoint Solutions – Look for a supplier that can offer cold storage with flexible setpoints. This will give you more options over the lifecycle of your storage solution, especially if changes are needed to adhere to shifting governmental regulations or for other compliance needs.
- Proper Installation – The ideal collaborator will offer timely, proper installation for your new cold-storage solution. If the unit is not properly installed, it may fail to meet the temperature and uniformity needs required to store the product. Proper installation involves ensuring all connections are completed properly and working correctly, and that the unit is ventilating as required.
- Qualification/Validation – Qualifications provide documented evidence that your temperature-controlled systems are installed, operating, and performing in accordance with manufacturers’ specifications and that they comply with country-specific and global regulations. Look for a team that can cover a wide temperature range (for example, +40°C to -196°C) and can provide these validations including:
- Thermal mapping of storage areas proves that your equipment and systems meet the required guidelines established by authorities and auditors.
- Documented validation for quick-turn qualifications that ensure your systems are installed and working properly, including Installed Qualification (IQ), Operational Qualification (OQ), and Performance Qualification (PQ).
- Preventative Maintenance – An expert team can assist with timely system maintenance to help reduce risk and make sure that your system keeps performing optimally.
- Remote Monitoring – Confirm whether your system can be monitored remotely to help ensure your application stays within tolerance.
- Predictive Analytics – A valuable collaborator can provide analytics that enable you to predict system challenges well before they occur.
- Trained Service Technicians – Make sure the partner you select can provide a network of trained service technicians that can be available quickly should the unexpected occur.
- Finance and Lease Options – Some providers offer financing and leasing options that allow the acquisition of new equipment without utilizing working capital. Look for flexible financing terms and competitive rates that enable you to secure the best solution to meet the requirements of the application. Other options include the ability to match cash outlay with revenues and no money down.
- Try Before Your Buy – If you find that a reach-in solution will best meet your needs, consider working with an organization that enables you to conduct a “test run” and try before you buy. FARRAR, for example, offers an eight-week, no-commitment, demo trial in your facility that includes delivery, installation and a one-hour training session.
- Established Cold-Chain Capabilities– Look for an organization that will be around long term to support your investment and potentially includes other cold-chain capabilities such as temperature-controlled transport and/or indoor environment comfort. Their deep, broad experience can be valuable if questions or challenges arise.
<h2 class="blog-h2">Where to start</h2>
While you don’t need to know everything when reaching out to a cold storage solutions company, there are some key things that will help ensure the initial conversations are productive.
Knowing the following helps to get you to the best solution for your application:
- Storage Temperature Range – What temperature range will you need to cover for your storage needs?
- Desired Volume – How much capacity will your storage solution need?
- Amount of Entries/Door Openings Per Day– How frequently/often will you be putting product into/taking product out of the solution? (Daily? Weekly? Other?)
These key items will serve as a solid starting point when you meet with a cold storage application team for the first time.
Learn more about the cold storage solutions and consultative approach offered by FARRAR, power by Trane Technologies.