Temperature monitoring for COVID-19 samples

13th July 2020
Lanna Deamer

Omniflex has supplied an SMS alert system to the University of Oxford’s Peter Medawar Building for Pathogen Research. The remote module allows the lab’s researchers to receive 24/7 alerts directly to their mobile phone in the event that freezers holding samples deviate from the critical temperature window. It is understood the laboratory is holding COVID-19 samples as part of the effort to develop a vaccine.

Omniflex has supplied the Medawar Building with its Teleterm M3 GSM Remote Terminal Unit (RTU). The device connects using a serial ModBus port to the labs’ Eltek Monitoring system that controls a number of liquid nitrogen and -80°C freezers.

When the Teleterm M3 detects a temperature fluctuation that exceeds the allowable limits set by the monitoring system, it automatically sends alerts via email or SMS to designated email accounts or mobile phones anywhere in the world. The user must then reply to acknowledge the alarm condition. If the unit fails to receive a response, the system escalates the alert to another set of mobile phones or email accounts.

As well as alerts, users can also use Omniflex’s web portal, Data2Desktop, to access the system remotely using any device, including smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC. The web-based system also logs all historical events and automatically generates a daily, weekly and monthly report summarising deviations and alarm events for conformance reporting.

“While the food in your home refrigerator won’t spoil if the temperature fluctuates slightly, it’s critical that laboratories can keep pathogen samples at a uniform sub-zero temperature to prevent them from being damaged or destroyed,” explained Gary Bradshaw, Director at Omniflex UK.

“Because it’s not always possible to have researchers in the lab 24 hours a day, it’s vital that some form of automated alert system is in place to inform designated staff when the freezer temperature deviates from set limits.

“We’ve designed the Teleterm M3 RTU for low power operation. The unit has a power rating of 9-30Vdc so that it can be used with a standby battery-backup. It can also take up to 12 configurable analogue or digital signals and is fully programmable using IEC61131-3 standard languages. It also offers additional connectivity in the form of Ethernet for wired, desktop use, as well as two serial ports, 3G and an SD card slot used for local alarm logging back-up.”

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