Choose the right alert set points for your freezers, refrigerators, and incubators

Erika Tsutsumi
|
March 13, 2020

Use this guide to ensure you don't miss anything important while avoiding alert fatigue.

Blog post below infographic

2020_03_Infographic_LM_AlertSetPoints-2

You’ve got your monitoring system installed: Great!

Now you just need to set up your alert set points, and then you won’t need to think about it anymore.

But how do you do that? What happens if you don’t choose the right alert set point? How do you know you chose correctly?

If you’ve never done this before, it can be hard to know what to do here - under-sensitive alerts might mean you’ll miss a problem with your equipment, but over-sensitive alerts are annoying and will cause alert fatigue.

Alert fatigue happens when you receive so many alerts that you learn to ignore them. If you receive 99 alerts that are false alarms due to normal usage, it is pretty likely that you will ignore the 100th alert. Of course, that 100th alert is the one that indicates a freezer failure, or something equally important.

At TetraScience, we’ve monitored more than 3,600 pieces of equipment over the last four years. We've collected lots of data about how freezers and incubators perform and what alert settings work for the Lab Managers and Ops/Facilities folks who rely on our Lab Monitoring system. One of the most common requests we receive is for alert setting recommendations. We decided to gather our data and anecdotal experience and write it down - so here it is:

Alert variables: threshold and delay

When setting alerts, the variables we have to work with are alert threshold and delay. The way alerting generally works is this - once the temperature (or other data feed) has crossed the set alert threshold, a timer starts. That timer continues for the duration of the set delay, and if the temperature is still out of bounds after that period of time, you receive an alert.

As an example, if you have a -80℃ freezer, where you have set an alert threshold of -65℃ and a delay of 30 minutes, you would receive an alert if the freezer temperature went above -65℃ and remained above -65℃ for 30 minutes. The figure below shows what this looks like on your TetraScience Lab Monitoring dashboard.

2020_03_Blog_LM_AlertSetPoints_TempProfile-2

Setting alert thresholds

The purpose of setting an alert threshold is pretty straightforward: if your equipment exceeds a set temperature, you want to know so you can take corrective action.

When selecting a threshold, the important thing to remember is that temperature naturally fluctuates during normal usage.

For example, a primary cause of temperature fluctuation is users opening and closing the door during the course of a normal day - this will cause excursions that last for a few minutes before your equipment recovers. Freezers will also have a sinusoidal temperature variation even when nobody is using them. This is caused by the compressor cycle and can be a noticeable variation (+/- 5℃ would be very typical).

Because these variations are part of normal operation, we typically recommend thresholds that are a few degrees outside of normal operations. Below are some examples of reasonable thresholds:

2020_03_Blog_LM_AlertSetPoints_ThresholdsGraphic

Note that we do not recommend low temperature alerts for -20s or -80s: these generally are not useful and can cause alert fatigue. We do, however, sometimes recommend low temperature thresholds for 4℃ refrigerators, as you may have material that you do not want to accidentally freeze. However, risk of hitting freezing temperatures does vary by type of refrigerator. For example, low temperature thresholds can be helpful for refrigerators that are likely to have frost on top.

Setting alert delays

The purpose of setting a delay might be a little less obvious - wouldn’t you want to know immediately if your equipment is out-of-bounds? In some cases, this is true (if you’re monitoring a gas manifold, and it goes into alarm, there’s no reason for a delay).

But for cold storage and incubators, the time it takes to return to the temperature set point after opening the door can be 20-30 minutes or more - especially if users open and close the door several times in rapid succession.

Because of this, we typically suggest alert delays in this range:

2020_03_Blog_LM_AlertSetPoints_DelaysGraphic

We can use a shorter delay for incubator high temperature alarms because the incubator temperature does not generally rise with normal use. High incubator temperature normally means there is a problem with your HVAC system or the incubator itself.

Summary

The best monitoring system is one that you use, not one that you tune out.

Alert setup shouldn’t be difficult, and it shouldn’t take a lot of fine-tuning down the line. Though lab equipment can show some variation in typical operating ranges, we usually find that you should be able to set universal alert thresholds and delays for each type of instrument. The important thing to remember when you are setting up your lab monitoring system is to avoid the extremes of alert sensitivity - the best monitoring system is one that you use, not one that you tune out.

Do you have alert threshold/delay setting best practices to share? Additional questions? Let us know!

Share this article

Previous post

There is no previous post
Back to all posts
May 18, 2022

Tetra Blasts Off at Boston’s Bio-IT World

Read Blog
May 9, 2022

Give Your in vivo Data the Attention it Deserves

Read Blog
May 2, 2022

Customizing Digital Lab Experiences With Ease

Read Blog
April 14, 2022

Sharing a Vision and Deep Customer Commitment

Read Blog
April 11, 2022

Escaping the Scientific Data Quagmire

Read Blog
April 1, 2022

Innovating with a HoloLens and Drones

Read Blog
April 6, 2022

Digital Twins: Seeing Double with a Predictive Eye

Read Blog
March 28, 2022

Automated Anomaly Detection and Correction

Read Blog
March 30, 2022

Making Labs More Efficient

Read Blog
March 4, 2022

Introducing Tetra Data Platform v3.2

Read Blog
March 2, 2022

Are you prepared to utilize ML/AI and Data Visualization?

Read Blog
February 22, 2022

SLAS 2022: The Industry’s “Hyped” for Accessible and Actionable Scientific Data

Read Blog
February 21, 2022

BIOVIA partners with TetraScience

Read Blog
February 16, 2022

Tetra Partner Network: An Interview with Klemen Zupancic, CEO, SciNote

Read Blog
February 4, 2022

Closing the Data Gap in Cancer Research

Read Blog
January 27, 2022

Waters & The Tetra Partner Network: Making Data Science Possible

Read Blog
December 16, 2021

Announcing Acquisition of Tetra Lab Monitoring Business by Elemental Machines

Read Blog
November 29, 2021

Move From Fractal to Flywheel with The Tetra Partner Network

Read Blog
March 26, 2021

How an IDS Complements Raw Experimental R&D Data in the Digital Lab

Read Blog
July 30, 2021

What is an R&D Data Cloud? (And Why Should You Care?)

Read Blog
March 26, 2021

What is a True Data Integration, Anyway?

Read Blog
June 1, 2020

Data Science Use Cases for the Digital Lab: Novel Analyses with Waters Empower CDS Data

Read Blog
April 20, 2022

Unlock the Power of Your ELN and LIMS

Read Blog
July 23, 2020

The Science Behind Trash Data

Read Blog
August 20, 2021

The 4 Keys to Unlock the Lab of the Future

Read Blog
September 29, 2021

TetraScience Achieves SOC 2 Type 2 Validation, Advances R&D Data Cloud GxP Compliance Capabilities

Read Blog
April 20, 2020

Round-up of Semantic Web thought leadership articles

Read Blog
September 19, 2020

Simplified Remote Monitoring of CO₂ Incubators via Direct Integration

Read Blog
May 11, 2021

R&D Data Cloud: Moving Your Digital Lab Beyond SDMS

Read Blog
September 10, 2021

Principles of Deep Learning Theory

Read Blog
July 8, 2020

Powering Bioprocessing 4.0 for Therapeutic Development

Read Blog
March 30, 2022

Why Biopharma Needs an End-to-End, Purpose-Built Platform for Scientific Data — Part 2

Read Blog
August 19, 2021

Part 2: How TetraScience Approaches the Challenge of Scaling True Scientific Data Integrations

Read Blog
March 23, 2022

Why Biopharma Needs an End-to-End, Purpose-Built Platform for Scientific Data — Part 1

Read Blog
January 18, 2021

New Matter: Inside the Minds of SLAS Scientists Podcast

Read Blog
June 29, 2020

Enabling Compliance in GxP Labs

Read Blog
May 14, 2020

LRIG-New England: Lunchtime Virtual Rapid Fire Event - May 26, 2020

Read Blog
June 10, 2020

Remote Lab Scheduling is No Longer Optional, it is a Requirement

Read Blog
August 2, 2020

Incident Reporting for GxP Compliance

Read Blog
October 15, 2020

Protein Purification with Cytiva UNICORN: Enhanced Analytics through Harmonization and Integration

Read Blog
July 29, 2020

Cloud-based Data Management with Lab Automation: HighRes Biosolutions Cellario + TetraScience

Read Blog
August 20, 2020

Understanding Why Freezer Temperatures May Not Be Uniform

Read Blog
July 14, 2021

Find Experimental Data Faster with Google-Like Search in Tetra Data Platform 3.1 Release

Read Blog
July 22, 2021

Experimental Data in Life Sciences R&D — It’s How Many Copies of Jaws?!

Read Blog
July 15, 2020

Direct Data Acquisition and Sensor Integration for ThermoFisher Heracell™ VIOS CO₂ Incubators

Read Blog
September 15, 2020

Remote Monitoring of VWR CO₂ Incubators via Direct Integration

Read Blog
April 26, 2020

The Digital Lab Needs an Intermediate Data Schema (IDS): a First Principle Analysis

Read Blog
April 6, 2020

TetraScience ADF Converter -- Delivering on the Promise of Allotrope and a Startup’s Journey

Read Blog
August 6, 2020

"Data Plumbing" for the Digital Lab

Read Blog
June 8, 2020

Data Automation for High-Throughput Screening with Dotmatics, Tecan, and PerkinElmer Envision

Read Blog
May 15, 2020

Applying Data Automation and Standards to Cell Counter Files

Read Blog
June 11, 2020

AWS Healthcare & Life Sciences Web Day | Virtual Industry Event

Read Blog
February 12, 2021

AWS Executive Conversations: Evolving R&D

Read Blog
April 15, 2021

Announcing Our Series B: The What, When, Why, Who, and Where

Read Blog
April 15, 2021

Announcing our Series B: The DNA Markers of Category Kings and Queens

Read Blog
April 15, 2021

Announcing our Series B: Tetra 1.0 and 2.0 | The Noise and the Signal

Read Blog
March 29, 2020

Allotrope Leaf Node Model — a Balance between Practical Solution and Semantics Compatibility

Read Blog
April 3, 2019

Allotrope 101

Read Blog
March 13, 2020

Choose the right alert set points for your freezers, refrigerators, and incubators

Read Blog
August 27, 2020

99 Problems, but an SDMS Ain't One

Read Blog