Simplified Remote Monitoring of CO₂ Incubators via Direct Integration

Salvatore Savo
September 19, 2020

Maintaining an environment fit for a cell

Pharmaceutical and biotech organizations globally use carbon dioxide (CO₂) incubators to maintain stable environments in labs working with cells or tissue cultures. Monitoring CO₂ incubators is tricky due to the sensitivity of the CO₂ sensors. The high humidity in incubators may cause drift or failure in the sensors. These deviations may also not be reported on time, causing serious business and financial impacts.

This blog focuses on the direct integration capabilities of the Tetra Lab Monitoring application which facilitates CO₂ incubator monitoring without the use of independent probes. The benefits result in less time to install, eliminated removal of probes before sterilization, and lower upfront costs in the lab.

CO₂ incubator monitoring provides unique challenges
Properly monitoring CO₂ incubators in the lab is crucial to ensure there are no changes in the equipment or environmental changes such as track temperature, humidity, and CO₂ levels.

Monitoring CO₂ incubators is different from monitoring freezers, environmental temperatures, light levels, gas manifold alarms, or other equipment/factors in the lab. Some considerations lab managers and scientists need to keep in mind when monitoring CO₂ incubators are:

  1. Incubators must be regularly sterilized. Probes installed internally must be removed when a sterilization cycle is completed.
  2. All CO₂ sensors (whether independent or built into the incubator) need to be calibrated periodically.
  3. Independent probe installation is time-consuming for incubators, especially if there are strict policies around moving incubators or the materials inside of them.

By adding more incubators into the lab, more and more overhead is added as well. An average lab can house 10 - 20 incubators with each set of independent CO₂ sensors taking 10-15 minutes to remove and reinstall. The process takes more time if samples need to be moved to other incubators.

Battle-tested CO₂ monitoring in the lab
The Tetra Lab Monitoring application, built on the Tetra Data Platform,  is used by the top global pharmaceutical and biotech organizations to monitor a variety of equipment in R&D and GxP labs such as freezers and refrigerators in addition to environmental parameters. The application also tracks temperature, humidity, CO₂, O₂ and agitation levels in incubators.

Sturdy CO₂ sensors are used and equipped with protective filters to keep out humidity for monitoring. The main benefit is that they can be installed in any incubator. The only thing that is needed is access to an independent sensor port. Monitoring this way allows for a uniform solution for all incubators in the lab.

The Tetra Lab Monitoring application simplifies the CO₂ monitoring process by leveraging the data acquisition capabilities of the Tetra Data Platform. We have developed direct incubator integrations that are easy to install and maintain. Now we can pull data from the data output of an incubator - no external sensors necessary.

IMAGE: View of Heracell Incubator USB data port and the real time CO₂ level monitoring via direct integration


When monitoring incubators via direct integration, you can:

  1. Leave the monitor set up during a stericycle. The IoT gateway connected to the USB output of the incubator will have no problem recording that the inside of the chamber reached 180℃. If you left an independent probe connected, you’d be cleaning melted plastic out of the incubator once your sterilization was completed. This can be an expensive mistake!
  2. Calibrate just your incubator, and know that your monitoring system is reading a calibrated value.
  3. Install the TetraScience monitoring system in just a few minutes - saving both time and installation costs.
  4. Unlock more data using less wires. Some incubators are equipped with sensors that can monitor parameters like water level or the agitation rate.  In the case of shaking incubators, loss of agitation could potentially inhibit optimal cell growth and lead to a failed experiment costing the scientist time and money on reagents.
  5. Monitor incubators that could not be monitored using independent probes because they lack an access port.

IMAGE: View of the agitation rate in RPM for Infors HT Multitron measured via direct integration


To start, we’ve released a direct integration with the following manufacturers and models of incubators:

The integration allows for the monitoring of parameters like CO₂, O₂, temperature, humidity, spinning rate, and water level via data port output from the incubator.

Supporting the most popular incubators in the Tetra Lab Monitoring application ensures experimental conditions in incubators across biotech and life science labs are stable and lowers the probability of failure. Scientists do not need to worry about the chances of their cell or tissue cultures dying due to improper environments and losing work that took months. Over the years, our easy-to-use and configurable application has made work in labs more efficient. Developing integrations across a variety of lab equipment, and alongside our dedicated customer support team, has saved many organizations like Notable Labs millions of dollars, countless numbers of equipment, and potential losses.

Thanks to its unique ability to integrate with any instruments, TetraScience is continuosly growing the portfolio of direct integrations with CO₂ incubators. Future integrations include ThermoFisher Forma™ Steri-Cult™ CO2 incubator, and ThermoFisher Forma™ Steri-Cycle™ CO2 incubator to name a few. We continuously work alongside our customers and partners to develop new integrations and features. If you have a specific CO₂ incubator that needs monitoring via direct integration, contact us to learn how easy direct integrations can be.

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