Founded in 1978 and headquartered in the Dominican Republic, Bio-Nuclear manufactures specialized medical devices, equipment, vaccines and chemical reagents. The company developed an innovative molecular biological technique to identify disease-causing viruses and bacteria. They also manufacture devices that collect and conserve stem cells and make supplies for hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Their customers are government and private sector health care providers.
Ensuring the proper storage of Bio-Nuclear’s chemical reagents and vaccines is of paramount importance. These products must meet standards that guarantee their scientific precision and reliability. Therefore, they are subject to internal and external regulations regarding cold storage. That's why Julio Cesar Cruz, service engineer and technology specialist in the company's Division of Engineering and Application, and his colleagues in the Inventory Department and Department of Processes and Quality use Sensaphone's Web600 monitoring systems throughout their facility. The Web600 systems monitor climate-controlled areas, medical refrigerators and freezers, warehouses and data centers. They make sure that all medical assets are kept within their required temperature ranges.
"The Sensaphone devices let us take cold storage and ambient room temperature readings for our entire inventory,” said Cruz. “Also, because they function as data loggers, our Department of Quality and Process can track the entire history of cold temperatures for our products.”
Automated Monitoring Ensures Safe Temperatures and Accurate Records
Bio-Nuclear has been using Web600 devices for nine years. Prior to that, personnel used digital battery sensors and kept manual records. They had to walk around the facility a few times a day, adding temperature readings to a paper list. This manual method of monitoring and recording information not only invited data entry errors but was also time-consuming. And there was no easy way to produce reports demonstrating ongoing product temperatures.
Bio-Nuclear knows what it's like to lose products, thanks to a cold storage malfunction that occurred many years ago before they had the Web600 devices. Because there was no stored data to provide information that led to the malfunction, personnel could not quantify the useful life of the product. This inability to determine whether or not the products were still viable led to losses for Bio-Nuclear and its customers.
"Now our quality control department has immediate access to an accurate history of the cold storage temperatures for all of our products. This means we can deliver precise reports to internal and external auditors," stated Cruz.
Safeguarding Critical Medical Assets
Bio-Nuclear stores many items in its refrigerators and freezers. Examples include vaccines, insulin, reactors for medical equipment, vials for quality control, and research production samples. The company uses climate-controlled rooms to store medical supplies like urinalysis sticks, dialysis kit components and surgery equipment.
They have eight Web600 devices with a battery backup to monitor inventory storage rooms, freezers, refrigerators and two data centers. In addition to using 15 temperature sensors in glass bead vials in the refrigerators and freezers, Bio-Nuclear uses:
- Room temperature and humidity sensors
- Power failure alert switches
- Magnetic reed door switches
Bio-Nuclear's Quality and Process staff conducted a thermal mapping study to determine the number and placements of sensors in the cold storage rooms. For freezers and refrigerators, the company follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations.
They have also installed Web600 devices at 12 of their clients' facilities to monitor refrigerators holding vaccines and medical supplies.
Responding to Alerts and Detecting Potential Problems
The area being monitored determines who receives alerts from the Web600 devices. For example, inventory personnel receive the cold storage temperature alarms and maintenance personnel receive the power supply alarms. Other critical users receive all of the alarms for their areas of responsibility. When the staff receives alarms for temperature fluctuations and electrical outages, they are able to review the history, determine the cause and address the situation.
On one occasion, someone accidentally turned off a refrigerator. Because the Web600 devices retained the data history, Cruz and the Department of Processes and Quality knew that the temperature never increased above the safety parameters. That meant none of the stored products suffered degradation.
"It took us less than five minutes to generate the log, graph the data and determine the outcome," Cruz added.
Tying It All Together
Cruz and his team wanted to consolidate all of their sensors into a single platform to allow internal and external auditors to access it from a website. This led them to create a custom user system that pulls the data from all of the Web600 sensors. Dubbed the "Virtual SensaHost," this platform enables their team members to see all readings, generate reports and have graphical data of all their critical sensors.
The SensaHost system uses Microsoft Hyper-V with Windows 7 and PRTG network monitoring software that collects statistics from designated hosts. This platform of hyper-converged virtual servers is completely dedicated to the Web600 devices. It provides sensor data every 60 seconds in normal operation and every 15 seconds during an alarm. The free PRTG software allows the Bio-Nuclear team to use an iOS and Android app to view up to 100 sensors. They use a cellular connection to the company's Virtual Private Network for security reasons.
"The idea arose because we thought it was the right time to bring our monitoring capabilities to the next level," Cruz explained. "Now our auditors and executives can monitor product temperature from their mobile devices. And we have total control of the history of cold temperatures with clear guidelines from our administrative team."