Swift Sensors automated monitoring and alert system generates up to 8X ROI in as little as 2 years.
Clinical labs, medical offices, and pharmacies all may have refrigeration systems for storing vaccines, samples, blood, tissue, and other delicate material that must be kept at regulated temperatures. Many of these facilities are required to generate daily logs and report on the temperature history of their samples stored in their refrigerators and freezers by government agencies to ensure the safety and validity of samples and test results. For example, clinical labs that perform tests on human samples must comply with regulations from the Clinical Laboratories Improvement Amendments (CLIA) guidelines to ensure the quality and repeatability of lab results. And pharmacies or offices storing vaccines must comply with monitoring requirements from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In the hopes of keeping costs down, many of these medical facilities opt to have their staff handle the daily temperature checking and logging rather than invest in an automated system. With the development of low-cost, wireless IOT systems, you can make a relatively small investment up front to save enough time and money to more than make up for the cost. This blog post outlines an approach for calculating an ROI for an automated lab temperature monitoring system.
Common Lab Setup
For this exercise, we’ll assume the following lab setup:
- 5 refrigerators
- 1 -80C ultra-low freezer
- Located in 2 different rooms
The lab is required to monitor the temperatures in the rooms as well as in the refrigerators and freezers and record them daily in a log. The entire process takes about 10 minutes a day to complete.
Swift Sensors offers low-cost, wireless sensors as part of an automated lab monitoring and alert system. For this setup, the lab will need 5 temperature sensors for the refrigerators, 1 ultra-low temperature sensor for the freezer, and 2 ambient temperature sensors for room temperature and humidity monitoring. In addition, they will need 2 gateways to transmit the sensor data to the cloud. And each sensor requires an annual subscription for monitoring, logging, and alerts. The total cost for this system is $1690 for the sensors, $598 for the gateways, and $390/year for the annual subscription, or $2678 for the first year and $390 each year following.
The savings from an automated lab temperature monitoring system is calculated using two components – the inventory you will save from spoilage from equipment failure and the time savings from automating the daily temperature logging tasks. Let’s review each.
The lab estimates that they have about $20,000 worth of samples stored in each refrigerator or freezer at any given time. In addition, they estimate that the chances that one of their refrigerators or freezers fail over a given year is about 10% (keep in mind, failure can come from failed equipment, power outages, or employee errors – such as when an employee leaves a freezer door open). Using the alert system from Swift Sensors, you will be alerted when temperatures go out of range and can therefore react in time to save the samples. Over the span of a year, that results in a savings of $2000 (10% chance of failure times $20,000).
Keep in mind, the estimated savings of $2000 from preventing loss from equipment failure does NOT include these additional costs:
- The time required to clean out the failed refrigerator/freezer
- The time required to replace the spoiled inventory
- The time required to document and alert dependent parties of this failure to adjust plans
- The negative impact on your brand when you tell your customers you’ve lost important samples that they depend on.
The average salary of a lab technician involved in logging and reporting on temperatures is $40,000, or roughly $19/hour. The time savings from automation is 10 minutes a day, or 70 minutes/week, or 3640 minutes/year – which equates to 60 hours a year. This represents a time savings of $1152/year from automation.
Keep in mind, this time savings does not include the value of offloading your staff from the daily grind of manually checking and recording temperatures. They can spend that time working on more valuable tasks for the lab. And, this is one less manual task that you can take off their plate – which may help them decide to stay on the job rather than move on to something different. With the staffing challenges faced by labs throughout the country, the costs of hiring, training, and retraining employees cannot be overlooked.
The ROI of a an automated lab monitoring system needs to be calculated in two steps:
Year 1 (which includes the cost of the sensor system hardware):
Savings = $2000 from preventing loss + $1152 from automation = $3152 total year1 savings
Costs = $2678 for equipment and annual subscription:
ROI = $3152/$2678 = 1.2X ROI in 1 year
Year 1+n (each year after year 1)
Savings = $4152 (same every year)
Cost = $390 from subscription only
ROI = $3152/$390 = 8X ROI for each subsequent year
Many small labs do not think the costs of an automated lab monitoring system will pay off. When you run the numbers, and consider cost savings from preventing inventory loss as well as automating daily tasks, you can see the benefits of the system that quickly pays for itself in less than a year.
For more information on the Swift Sensors lab temperature monitoring solution, visit our Medical Lab Monitoring page.
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