Cold Storage Services

Cold Storage Services (CSS) plays an essential role in the support of world class research facilities at UNSW and reliable cold storage infrastructure is vital for maintaining the integrity of samples, reagents and experiments across more than 120 research groups.

Reliable cold storage infrastructure is vital for maintaining the integrity of samples, reagents and experiments in world class research facilities. Cold Storage Services has expertise, systems and contacts that can provide advice and guidance from the start of the procurement stage through to an equipment monitoring system once the infrastructure is installed.

If you have any queries related to Cold Storage Services, please contact us.

Key information is also outlined in the UNSW Cold Storage Procedure.

Purchasing Cold Storage Equipment

As a guide, freezers purchased to house critical research material must be fit-for-purpose (i.e. scientific grade equipment), and able to be connected to existing temperature monitoring facilities at the University, to ensure consistent lifecycle management of samples. UNSW Procurement have established a Cold Storage Panel of suppliers to ensure continuity of supply and competitive pricing. This centralised process is designed to assist in eliminating recurring issues changes of non-performance with specific suppliers. To access the Cold Storage Panel contact UNSW Procurement or Cold Storage Services.

Cold storage equipment testing results along with data recorded by the Independent Data Logging and Alarm System (IDLAS), will contribute to an approved vendor list within UNSW Procurement. Replacement and disposal will be based on freezer reliability, efficiency and overall life cycle management.

UNSW Cold Storage equipment and facilities include:

  • Cryogenics (vapour-phase and liquid)
  • Cold storage cabinets (+4°C fridges, -20°C, -30°C, -40°C, and -80°C freezers)
  • (+4°C) Walk-in Cool Rooms and (-20°C) Walk-in Freezer Rooms
  • Cold Storage Cabinet Facilities/Cold Storage Rooms (Secure, alarmed, temperature-controlled facility used to accommodate cold storage cabinets)
  • Supporting infrastructure and equipment.


Funding and grants:

Cold Storage equipment may be funded by grants or applications to the Research Infrastructure Scheme. For further information on applying for funding please contact PVCRI Office.


The criteria for insurance of equipment (refrigerated cabinets) and research material (samples, precursors, etc.) will be contingent on meeting minimum insurance standards as defined by UNSW insurers.

Minimum standards will include:

  • Temperature monitoring and alarms
  • Power monitoring and alarms
  • Identification of contents (sample management)
  • Smoke detection
  • Periodic emergency response training
  • Retrofitting of captive plugs
  • A robust, current and verifiable value estimate of the contents of each individual cold store.


Factors considered in sample valuation should include the cost of acquisition and work required to reproduce the sample to its current state. Consideration of these factors will generate a “sample replacement value” for insurance purposes. Insurance exclusions or sublimits may apply to equipment and samples which fail to meet minimum insurance criteria.

Cold Storage Equipment Monitoring

Newly purchased freezers should be integrated into the University's equipment/sample monitoring systems. An investment in wireless monitoring throughout UNSW has been made to ensure that UNSW researchers and other stakeholders meet their responsibilities to protect high-value samples. 

The Building Management System (BMS):

The UNSW BMS forms part of UNSW’s infrastructure. This hard-wired system communicates equipment alarms to selected personnel via email and/or SMS. The existing BMS shall remain in place for all Ultra-low (-80°C) and other selected refrigerated cabinets across campus. Selected newly-acquired refrigerated cabinets are also to be connected to the BMS. In addition, these cabinets shall be monitored via an Independent Data Logging and Alarm System (IDLAS).

The Independent Data Logging and Alarm System (IDLAS) – Wireless monitoring:

The IDLAS is a centralised, wireless monitoring technology which operates in parallel with the BMS, thereby acting as a second level of redundancy. When installed on your equipment the IDLAS can monitor equipment temperature, power consumption and door opening/closing. Equipment alarms will be communicated by the IDLAS to selected personnel via email and/or SMS. All refrigerated cabinets containing critical samples and operating at -30°C or below, will be monitored via the IDLAS. Selected scientific-grade refrigerated equipment will be monitored by the IDLAS as required, in consultation with CSS and in conjunction with a sample risk assessment. The IDLAS will reduce the risk to cold storage assets, demonstrate compliance for the purposes of Research Integrity, maintain sample integrity and inform CSS for the purposes of the equipment replacement program.