Cost of running a Laboratory Freezer

Titian Software's Steffen Koehler and Mark Doring consider the problem:

When did you last think about your laboratory freezer running costs? Do you know how much a typical -80°C freezer costs you to operate and maintain each year? In addition to the initial cost of buying the freezer and the annual energy and servicing costs, there are also hidden costs to consider. These include:

  • Ventilation – increased costs to site HVAC to properly dissipate the heat generated by the compressors
  • Footprint – laboratory space costs money

Do you think you are making the most efficient use of the freezers in your lab? Or might your freezers actually contain a small amount of what you actually need and a large amount of expired, outdated or redundant materials?

When you run out of room in your freezers, do you just buy a new freezer? Or do you embark on a project to try and rationalise your inventory materials to make more room?

To do this efficiently, you will need a good accounting of what is in your freezer to determine which items are valuable for you to keep, and what materials can be disposed of. That isn’t necessarily easy to do. In many cases, scientists will actually have to go through the arduous task of emptying out and defrosting the freezer just to get a proper accounting of its contents.

Well, here are the cold, hard facts: One standard -80°C laboratory freezer consumes around 6900 kWh of electricity each year. In countries where energy prices are high (such as Germany), this means that 1600 Euros are spent each year for each freezer on electricity alone. Add on to that the cost of maintenance, facilities impacts, depreciation – this can add up to a significant investment!

With Mosaic FreezerManagement software, efficient management of freezer inventories is simple, economical, and allows you to make the most effective use of the freezers in your lab. Since FreezerManagement tracks all of your container locations, you’ll always know where all of your materials are as well as where space is available for new items to be placed. Best of all, you won’t have to dig through each laboratory freezer to find what you are looking for since you never lose track of any of your samples! This can result in additional cost savings.

Consider how much the following could be costing you:

  • Cumulative employee time wasted searching for samples and concomitant delays to research due to the disorganisation of storage space
  • Redundant purchases of items that were perhaps already available in your storage, but not available to be found by scientists because there is no simple inventory query tool
  • Out of date samples taking up freezer space

FreezerManagement also tracks expiry dates, making it easy to search for, pick and dispose of old samples. You can even implement your own retention policy, according to the sample type. With these abilities at your fingertips you will find that you can make the most out of your storage solutions and greatly reduce cost, unnecessary waste and laboratory inefficiencies.

This blog is expanded on in Titian's extensive White Paper: The Essential Guide to Laboratory Sample Management, which reviews the challenges facing sample managers in a life sciences organisation. The white paper is free to download.

Get in touch with Titian's sample management experts.


About the authors:

Mark Doring worked for Schering Plough for 25 years as a biochemist in new lead discovery, focusing on high throughput screening assay performance, development and compound preparation with an emphasis on automation and informatics. He joined Titian Software in 2015 as a business application consultant.

Steffen Koehler spent 10 years running Evotec's compound management and then headed Direvo's screening and automation. He joined Titian in 2013 where he focusses on business applications.

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