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.

If you have any queries related to Cold Storage Services please contact Paul O'Brien (Cold Storage Manager) at paul.obrien1@unsw.edu.au or on (02) 9385 6854. Key information is also outlined in the UNSW Cold Storage Procedure.

Purchasing Cold Storage Equipment

Contact Paul O'Brien (Cold Storage Manager) at paul.obrien1@unsw.edu.au or on (02) 9385 6854 for purchase advice and recommendations on equipment to purchase. 

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.

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.

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.

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 pvcrresin@unsw.edu.au.

Insurance: 

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.

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Cold Storage Equipment Monitoring

All newly purchased freezers will 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 will operate in parallel with the BMS, thereby acting as a second level of redundancy. The IDLAS will 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.

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Cold Storage Equipment Maintenance

Contact Paul O'Brien (Cold Storage Manager) at paul.obrien1@unsw.edu.au or on (02) 9385 6854 for information on approved maintenance contractors. 

The University is committed to scheduled equipment maintenance to ensure reliability, efficiency and longevity for researchers.

Maintenance contractors are selected and managed by CSS to ensure maintenance is consistent and reliable in conjunction with UNSW Procurement policies and procedures.

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Cold Storage Samples

Sample Integrity:

The integrity of research material (including research samples), supported by cold storage, is intrinsically linked to Research Integrity at the University. Research integrity encompasses responsible research
conduct and is comprehensively covered under the University Research Integrity Policies and Procedures. A robust cold storage procedure for effective management will include:

1. World class cold storage in terms of:

  • Sample integrity
  • High-quality equipment
  • Cold storage equipment monitoring
  • Facilities, infrastructure, management and maintenance

2. Sample management with respect to:

  • Inventory identification and tracking
  • Minimised contamination and degradation
  • Compliance with relevant legislation, guidelines, ethics and retention periods
  • Protection via quantifiable and agreed insured value.

Sample Management:

Cold storage devices with valuable (insurable) contents are required to have sample management which identifies the contents, owner and age of the sample. Sample management by the stakeholder will assist in determining a quantifiable insured value calculated by researchers from labour and other associated costs. Sample management will determine which samples can be archived or disposed of. All samples require a risk rating as per risk assessment.

Prescribed Sample Management System:

Samples should be identifiable down to a minimum of box-level or tube level at the discretion of the researcher. All stakeholders should ensure that sample management endeavours include capturing and cataloguing research material on a UNSW supported database, once established. This measure is vital to ensuring sample integrity, as it identifies the sample throughout its lifecycle and satisfies value and insurance requirements. 

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Freezer Audit

Cold Storage Services undertake a comprehensive freezer audit each year, to ensure accurate records of all cold storage equipment are maintained.

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Responsibilities of key stakeholders in Cold Storage

Cold Storage Governance

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