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Freezer Inventory Log

The second law of thermodynamics can be expressed in several ways and one of those states that the degreed of disorder is always increasing in the universe. This is especially the case in a laboratory setting where the following scenarios are routine:

  • Laboratory enzymes and reagents are kept in several locations, thus, making it hard to determine if the lab is out of it or it is misplaced.
  • Several researchers generate cell lines or plasmids but there are no general lab stocks. It is time consuming to determine where something is located and, when found, if that plasmid or cell line is from the final steps or somewhere in the intermediate stages. Or worse still, the lab personal that generated it is no longer associated with the lab and it becomes difficult to determine what those tubes are and, if they are hazardous or important, which ones should be kept and which discarded.
  • Samples and reagents are kept in multiple formats, such as racks and boxes, which take up a lot of fridge/freezer space.
  • Time course experiments generated a lot of tubes and it becomes time consuming and cumbersome to label them all in detail. After a short period of time, it becomes difficult to determine the source of those tubes labeled 1-20 or A-Z.
  • You are in the process of generating a cell line, a plasmid, a clone , or making another product that requires several intermediate stages. This requires a way to keep the intermediate stages organized for easy access.

If the above scenarios are relevant to your laboratory, then investing some time to organize your lab space and fridge/freezer will save you a lot of time and money. Here is how?

  • Use this freezer inventory log (PDF link) to keep track of cell lines, plasmids, reagents, primers, or other experimental samples. This sheet can be kept in a lab inventory folder with a separate tab for additional information (such as plasmid maps or cell line details) with reference to the inventory number on the tracking sheet. Need to make changes to the log, add additional fields, or have a way to sort the log by user, tower, sample type, etc., then use excel to create one, based on our example, specific to your needs. Share your improved version with MIDSCI and your fellow researcher.
  • Use an inventory tower to keep your fridge and freezer organized: If your fridge/freezer is overflowing with tubes and boxes, then using an inventory rack will not only help with keeping things organized but also makes for an efficient use of space.  A tower can be assigned for a specific use (reagents, enzymes, etc.) or assigned to a specific person in the lab. This way, you can look at the inventory list (above), determine where the reagents you want is located, and then pull out the box from a specific tower. This method also prevent fluctuation of freezer temperature - as you keep the door open while digging through all the tubes and boxes to locate an item, prevent frost build up, and prevent thawing of valuable samples and reagents. Use our rack configurator to select the specific rack that is perfect for your specific freezer model: http://www.midsci.com/lp/freezer-racks.
  • Use boxes instead of tube racks to store your samples: We often start out keeping samples in tube racks while work is in progress. This rack is then stored in the freezer to be further processed at a later time (run a gel, use for PCR reaction, etc.). Then the unfortunate even take place. In the process of finding something in fridge or freezer, you tip over the tube rack and your samples flies all over the place. Not only do you have to sift through the fridge/freezer to locate your samples but you also have to reorganize those tubes. And what if you can’t find a critical sample? Prevent all of this from taking place and store your tubes in a box and keep track using the inventory sheet above. It will take a few more minutes but it will save you valuable time later when it comes to locating a specific sample.
  • Require all lab personal to inventory their reagents, cell line, plasmids, etc. before leaving the lab. It will save you time later when another lab is requesting that reagent used in a specific publication. You’ll be confident that you have the right reagent used as well locate it in no time.

Coming back full circle, in a closed system of a laboratory universe, the second law states that the degree of disorder is always increasing. To regain order, some effort and energy is required. It can be applied all at once, such as spring cleaning, or applied incrementally over time. In either case, MIDSCI is here to help you lower that entropy. 

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Image source: http://energyeducation.ca/encyclopedia/Entropy