A multi-site freezer inventory and manufacturing execution system in one.
A Fortune 500 company asked BME Systems what could be done about their bacterial culture collection. Cultures required to validate company products were not always available when needed. Manual record keeping and labeling had become onerous and the knowledge of company holdings were in the notes of one key staff person.
A review of the process revealed that the company needed — not just an freezer inventory system — but a mini MES (Manufacturing Execution System) to report internally when to subculture each strain based on acute availability at various campus locations and critical availability in the entire collection.
A database system was created to handle multi-site freezer inventory with bar coded vials and autonomous, networked, fault-tolerant kiosk stations to record vial usage and to disseminate data associated with the subcultures. Strain lineage is tracked to limit the number of passes from a verified strain. Heuristics are used to query the database to create a weekly production report that prioritizes the subculture process to maximize the probability that cultures are available.
The system includes a routine that “creates” a virtual freezer with strain group assignment sizes that are optimal based on vial usage at a particular location over a user specified period of time. Space optimization yields the benefit that all strains are produced at the same frequency which leads to healthy culture rotation minimizing culture viability from freeze/thaw effects while minimizing the number of times the strain must be subcultured over time.
The system has been expanded in scope twice, is validated, and has been in use for over 20 years.