lab technician wearing protective gloves reaches into icy freezer full of test tubes in racks

Three Reasons Freezer Management Software is Vital

Updated: October 18th, 2023

Why Freezer Management Software is Crucial

If you’ve worked in a lab, you’ve likely used some form of freezer management to manage your sample storage. For some labs, this may simply be a paper lab notebook where freezers, boxes, and sample locations are annotated. Others may periodically update an Excel file with samples stored in the freezer and place a printout of the spreadsheet on the freezer itself.

For truly efficient and organized labs, nothing beats having freezer management software to manage your freezer capacity and sample inventory. Below are three key reasons why you need software to manage your lab freezer storage. 

1. Your samples are vital, and preservation of them is too.

Samples are one of the most precious things in the lab—sometimes irreplaceable. The time spent collecting, processing, and collecting data from samples means they are valuable not only to your research but also to the cost efficiency of your lab. Misplacing and looking for lost samples can be a huge waste of time for laboratory staff, and even more so if the samples are never found. Using freezer management software ensures that your freezers are kept organized and reduces the chances that you will misplace valuable samples.

2. Excel and paper-based management can’t keep up with growing labs.

Although Excel and paper-based systems may be able to keep up with the needs of a very small lab, they are very difficult to keep updated with accurate information and definitely don’t meet the needs of larger or growing labs. Busy staff in the lab will need to manually/visually judge freezer capacity, update multiple sheets and samples when making simple changes, and have to manually keep track of sample volumes and freeze/thaw counts. This method of freezer management is highly prone to errors from day-to-day use not to mention during scheduled clean-outs and organization of the freezer.

3. Complete and accurate auditing is nearly impossible without freezer management software.

Freezer management software makes auditing and organizing your samples much easier. You’ll have a full record of all check-in/check-out events for samples, by which staff, and a full history of the location and movement of samples in the freezer. This level of completeness and accuracy is much more difficult to achieve using paper or excel. Freezer management software captures all of the information you need for a comprehensive audit of your freezer storage and samples. 


Features Labs Love in Freezer Software

Software for freezer management doesn’t have to be feature-rich to help your team upgrade and modernize from paper and Excel, but some features are worth looking for. Here’s a few features that adopters of freezer software love having available.

  1. Sample Timelines: The ability to see what has happened to a sample in its life at the lab, or even during collection, can save a lot of headaches during processing or selection for a clinical trial.
  2. Action Tracking: Solutions that reduce human error in freeze-thaw counts, volume tracking, and aliquoting can keep lab technicians from having to interpret handwriting and accidental keystrokes, reducing the chance of coming up with negative volumes or volumes higher than the test tube can handle.
  3. Picklists: Look for the ability to quickly assemble and print a list of samples being selected for processing or assay. This kind of feature saves time for the technician, helps teams work together, and reduces time in the freezer, saving on energy consumption, operational time and frozen fingers.


Freezer Management Software with LabKey Sample Manager

With Sample Manager, we have introduced a sample-centric freezer management solution into the application. This means you can create samples, add metadata and lineage information, perform work and even upload assay data—all without having to use the freezer management tool. Of course, if you plan to store your samples, freezer management is there to help by:

  • Managing your freezer with an end-to-end sample tracking system that stores the entire sample history and chain of custody in one place
  • Providing a customizable, flexible structure to accurately reflects the physical freezers in your lab
  • Tracking samples in and out of the freezer (freeze/thaw counts) and automatically calculating and tracking sample volumes 
  • Helping you to easily find samples in the freezer and move samples between freezers
  • Tracking and maintaining full audit logs of the freezer and of the samples
  • Aiding collaboration with picklists and cloud-based access

The best way to encourage users to adopt a new system is by providing them with benefits that actually help them—save them time, simplify tasks, etc. Additionally, when a system becomes the primary source of truth for team members, it becomes easier to adopt because that’s where the information lies.

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