Manage Freezer Inventory Using CloudLIMS

Biorepositories, clinical research and testing laboratories involve long term or short term storage of a wide range of samples. Appropriate storage of a sample plays a key role in its integrity. Not only do researchers have to worry about the integrity of the samples, they also have to track and manage the associated data to ensure that the samples are reliably logged in and out of a laboratory. The sample data is a precious resource that is integral to the research and diagnostic processes. This data is dependent on the sample’s quality, integrity and consistency. Managing this data accurately can help ensure that costly, resource-intensive pitfalls don’t occur in laboratories. Furthermore, several researchers or members of a lab may handle the same sample at several stages before, during and after the storage process. As the number of samples stored increases, so do the challenges. Some of them include finding missing samples or identifying samples whose labels have fallen off. Sometimes, there are also degraded samples that are no longer usable due to inappropriate storage. Tracking the location and condition of samples can thus, be challenging in such environments.

Manual retrieval of samples within freezers often results in unsolicited freeze/thaw of some samples which disturbs their stability and integrity. Knowing the exact location of samples within freezers minimizes the time spent trying to find them. Not just that, the freezer’s optimal performance is also not effected since samples can be easily located without leaving the freezer open. To minimize these problems, appropriate storage tracking systems to track sample data and the corresponding storage locations are imperative.

For laboratories that use paper notebooks and excel spreadsheets, that are already proven to be inefficient, and where powerful custom databases are too costly, a storage tracking system becomes a preferred choice.

CloudLIMS are cloud-based laboratory management software designed with powerful sample management capabilities to efficiently keep track of sample data anytime, anywhere. You can manage freezer inventory using the Storage module in CloudLIMS. The Storage module enables users to assign storage locations to samples as well as manage and track their information for optimal use of laboratory resources.

How to Manage Storage Inventory using CloudLIMS

Step 1. ADD STORAGE CONTAINERS AND HIERARCHIES USING THE STORAGE MODULE:

A. Add:

  1. Click the Manage Storage Containers tab under Storage module.
  2. To add a container for the first time, click the Add Storage icon and select a container type from the list. Fill out the information in the form and click Save.
  3. To add a storage container under an existing container (Except the least storage container), select the existing container and click the Add Storage icon.
  4. Select a container type from the list and enable the Least Storage Container section by ticking the check box. Specify the number of rows and columns. A least storage container can have as many as 50*50 wells. Click Save.

B. Edit: Select a storage container and click the Edit Storage icon to alter the container information. Click Update to save.

C. Delete: In the Storage module, click the Remove Storage icon. The Remove Storage Containers window opens. Select the storage containers to be deleted and click Remove.

D. Empty Storage: Select a storage container and click the Empty Storage icon and confirm removing all the stored items in that container.

E. Move: In the Storage module, click the Move Storage icon. The Move Storage Containers window opens. Drag and move the storage containers as required and click Update to save the changes.

Step 2. ASSIGN STORAGE LOCATIONS TO SAMPLES:

  1. Click the Assign Location tab under Storage module.
  2. Click the Import samples button.
  3. The List of Available Samples window will open. Select the Sample Type from the drop down menu.
  4. Select the sample(s) and then click the arrow to create a list of samples to be stored.
  5. Using Remove button, you can also remove them from the selected samples list.
  6. Once the samples are selected, click Import.
  7. All the selected samples/aliquots are displayed under the Assign Location tab.
  8. Click on Select Storage Unit button to choose the storage container for the samples to be stored. This can be done even before importing samples under the Assign Location tab.
  9. Once the storage container is selected, a grid view is displayed.
  10. Select the sample and then check the Assign Automatically option. To assign a storage location from a particular cell, use the Start from option. The Direction and Row extension options can also be selected as required.
  11. On clicking the Assign button, CloudLIMS automatically updates all the selected samples with their storage location. The cell color changes from green to red (for received samples) or orange (for expected samples).
  12. The storage ID and storage path is also generated and displayed along with the sample information.
  13. You can also choose to assign a location by simply selecting a sample followed by selection of any emptied cell in the grid view, not necessarily in the particular order.

Alternatively, you can also assign locations to samples from the Samples module, by clicking on the Storage Location field in the Sample form and selecting a storage unit.

Step 3. CHECK-IN & CHECK-OUT SAMPLES

You can keep track of the sample transactions from the storage units by using these options. CloudLIMS records the movement of samples in and out of the laboratory automatically.

  1. Click the Manage Storage Containers tab under Storage module. Select a storage container and click the Check-out Sample icon.
  2. The Check-out window opens showing a list of all the samples stored in that storage container.
  3. Specify a Check-out Name, select the samples to be checked out, click the Check-out button and confirm.
  4. In the grid view of the storage container, the checked out samples are greyed out.
  5. Using the Check-in Sample option, you can place the checked out samples back into the storage container. You can also mark the check box to calculate the freeze-thaw count for the incoming samples. The system records this automatically.
  6. Select a container from which the samples are checked out.
  7. Click the Check-in Sample icon.
  8. The Check-in window opens showing a list of checked out samples.
  9. Select the required checked out samples. Click the Check-in button.
  10. In the grid view of the storage container, the checked out samples will be now stored.

How to Import Storage Units and Assign Storage Locations to Samples

You can add multiple storage units and assign samples to them at once.

  1. Click the Import From File icon in the Storage module.
  2. A new window opens. Click the Import New Data File button.
  3. Select the container type such as Freezer, Rack or Box from the drop down menu. Click the Upload File button.
  4. Navigate and select a file for upload, then click Upload Data. A mapping window opens.
  5. Select the Parent Storage location (mandatory) either from the file or from the existing storage hierarchy.
  6. Map all the fields to the file headers and click Upload Data. (For example, map Storage Name attribute with Storage Name header).
  7. The storage container with all the samples in it can be seen in the grid view.

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