Improving Incubator Monitoring through IoT Technology


It’s a safe bet that most biological manufacturing sites, clinical test labs, and biomedical research centers have CO2 incubators onsite.  Your facility many have dozens of them onsite, as scientists often use them to grow high value, specialized cells of interest. The growth cycles usually take 24-48 hours, which means that scientists/engineers will not always be on site when incubators are in use.  This kinda leaves incubations vulnerable as no one may be onsite in case there’s a problem with the equipment. Cells are finicky and require specific conditions to grow. If there’s a problem during the incubation cycles, there’s more at stake than just repeating the incubation process.  It could require repeating days or weeks of prep work or even procuring the cells from the vendor. That equates to lost time and money!

The good news is that incubators have some built-in functions in place to alarm scientists/engineers when environmental conditions inside the incubator cross threshold conditions. Most incubators can measure and report out common environmental parameters of interest:  

Incubator

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • CO2 concentration
  • O2 concentration
  • Shaker speeds
The bad news is that the built-in alarms are only audible if you are on-site in the vicinity of the incubator.  That limits the usefulness of the feature. Does an alarm really make a sound if no one’s there to hear it?  Well, that’s what happens when staff goes home at the end of the day and there’s a problem with the incubator.  

incubator notificationFortunately, there are simple add-on internet of things (IoT) equipped devices that can remotely monitor incubator conditions 24/7 and alert staff via email/SMS to inform them that something’s out of range.  There are two types of solutions available.  The first solution is a small sensor box, called Element-A, that’s capable of continuously measuring temperature, humidity, light and air pressure. The second type of solution, called Element-D, can connect to an incubator’s data port. This solution is able to report all incubator settings.  For both solutions, the data is streamed to a secure, cloud-based dashboard for remote access by authorized users. Even better, the data is archived and can be exported in 21 CFR Part 11 compliant data report.

So to summarize, the benefits of IoT incubator monitoring are many: cutting costs related to materials and labor, happier staff by reducing unpleasant surprises, and 21 CFR Part 11 compliant reporting. To learn more about IoT-based incubator monitoring can improve operational efficiencies at your sites, download our white paper.

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