Life science facilities are not strangers to the notoriously difficult task of keeping samples and equipment free from humidity damage. A sizable amount of work done in laboratories requires temperature-controlled spaces, ranging from small vivariums to bulk incubators to entire warehouses. Despite the persistent need to also monitor and control the relative humidity of these spaces, many facilities put themselves through a frustrating maintenance process involving HVAC systems and dehumidifiers. One organization, in its search for an advanced data acquisition system, noted that there were several cold spots in an incubator that would create condensation. While this typically happens when H2O is present in the incubator, this condensation actually consisted of oil droplets that had evaporated off of the samples themselves. With oil now dripping down the incubator and mold forming in it’s crevices, the incubator began to malfunction, compromising all of the samples and costing the organization thousands of dollars.
The World Health Organization has weighed in on the subject, given the persistence of the problem, and asserts that “temperature, relative humidity and ventilation should be appropriate and should not adversely affect the quality of pharmaceutical products during their manufacture and storage, or the accurate functioning of equipment.” Fortunately for organizations such as this one, real-time monitoring systems allow them to take a proactive approach to humidity control, rather than a reactive approach once damages have already occurred.
Protecting Assets by Monitoring Relative Humidity and Temperature in Real-Time
Close attention to both relative humidity and temperature is the key to keeping life science environments free from substantial losses. Relative humidity (Rh) is the ratio of the actual water vapor pressure of the air to the saturated water vapor pressure of the air at the same temperature expressed as a percentage. More simply put, it is the ratio of the mass of moisture in the air, relative to the mass at 100% moisture saturation, at a given temperature. Moisture in the atmosphere plays a threatening role in the deterioration of samples that are either stored incorrectly or in transit. Even cardboard boxes can become damaged if not in well-monitored conditions.
It is critical that high-quality Rh sensors and temperature sensors are professionally installed in facilities that are concerned with controlling humidity. Furthermore, lab employees must have the ability to integrate the data from different sensors and have access to 24/7 insight on it because of how discreetly deviations can occur. Since weather conditions outside of the lab are changing constantly - whether daytime to nighttime or winter to spring - it is essential that facilities monitor conditions continuously, rather than relying on an initial validation or mapping. Metadata such as this - the temperature in the room in relation to the incubator - is often overlooked though it holds the key to regulating changes in temperature and consequential humidity. Facilities that are keen to the sensitive nature of temperature and humidity consistently adjust inside conditions to keep all samples safe and dry, paying attention to the comprehensive overlay of data coming from their sensors. Otherwise, organizations are guaranteed to suffer from compromised data and even harmful atmospheric pollutants.
Benefits of Integrating Comprehensive
Relative Humidity and Temperature Monitoring
-> Saving MoneyHVAC system regulation can prevent the unnecessary energy expenses that occur when it is overworked. In the image below, the HVAC system was fighting with fume hoods in the lab and causing huge changes in temperature. Independent, calibrated sensors were implemented in the room and data gathered was used to optimize HVAC cycles and save on energy consumption.
-> Reduced Risk
The data set below highlights the varying humidity levels throughout the year in a highly controlled hospital environment. Understanding fluctuations - and implementing processes to control them - minimizes humidity’s adverse effects on critical equipment and specialty pharmaceuticals. With increased control over the facility, this hospital is able to reduce potential risks of complications for their patients and minimize deterioration to expensive equipment.
-> Increase Research Reproducibility
Identifying data points and thresholds early on in the research and development phases can help guide Environmental Monitoring programs and alarm limits in the scale up and production phase. The data below comes from an R&D facility for pharmaceuticals that used historical data to shape EM protocols when scaling from development to commercialization.
-> Objective, Third-Party Data
Each graph displayed above is the work of a real-time, data acquisition system that allows these users to improve the quality of their science across the board. These systems keep organizations in tune with the nuances behind developing and producing quality scientific assets, which further enables them to increase profit and productivity. The interaction between relative humidity and temperature is one strong example of why these nuances must be monitored carefully.
Looking to reduce the burden of error filled, manual recording? XiltriX North America leverages industrial-grade hardware, a user-friendly cloud-based software platform, and 30 years of experience in life science environments to provide a high value-added service to organizations of any size. Integrating outputs from both equipment and environmental conditions in real-time and leveraging state-of-the-art sensors, XiltriX provides a holistic view of your facility, proactively addressing issues before they become catastrophes.
Request a demo today and learn how XiltriX can provide you with complete peace of mind.