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Ergonomics? For a Freezer?

Lab Academy

For sure, the total weight of a ULT freezer is far less important for you as an user compared to a pipette (whereas it might be of interest floor stability-wise). Ergonomics is far more than just the weight of an instrument. There are several aspects which result in an ergonomic lab instrument: Starting with an ergonomic design of the product itself (e.g. smooth shape, low weight, low forces needed, intuitive user interface,…), fitting into an ergonomic work space and finally supporting an optimal workflow within the lab.

In contrast to hard facts as technical specifications, ergonomic ratings or perceptions are more soft values. Convenience is difficult to measure but at least some design aspects can be rated as of higher (or lower) value regarding ergonomics.

In principle, the ergonomic value of an instrument already starts at the development of a product. This can be achieved by proven concepts and many testings internally as well as with customers.
The R&D team needs to know and to understand the needs within the workflows for optimization of the product.

Regarding the ULT freezers, there are quite some ergonomic aspects besides the weight:

Your major interaction point with a ULT freezer is the door handle. This handle at the outer door should be easy to use: The closing mechanism of the ULT freezer must be strong enough to tighten the outer door for highest sample security. On the other side, the handling force needs to be low enough that every member of the lab team is able to open and close the freezer door.
Ergonomic door handle for easy opening and closing of ULT freezer
The vent port for easy re-access after opening and closing the ULT should be at eye-level and not hidden somewhere else. Besides, an automatic function of the vent port simplifies the process.
The display should be at eye level for easy reading of all settings. The display should neither be above the outer door nor below the outer door: Reading the display while being on your tiptoes or kneeing on the floor is not comfortable.
Especially when having a touch-display, this display should have an easy-to-handle interface. The content and structure should be self-explaining without the need to read the operating manual at every step.
To concentrate on your research work and thereby reduce the risk of mistakes, a silent environment is of advantage. The importance of the noise level of your ULT strongly depends on the location of the instrument: If your unit is located in the basement, you do not care. If it is located at the hallway, it might be annoying but when the ULT freezer is located in your lab, any dezibel is too much.
Therefore, the noise level has the higher impact the nearer you work at the freezer.

For a quick and comfortable connection of the freezer with power, data, and BMS (Building Management System), a smart collection of all cable interfaces at one location of the instrument is recommended.
Cable interfaces located at one spot for easy access
Every freezer should be cleaned in regular pattern. This cleaning involves removing of ice and snow from the inner compartment as well as cleaning the air filter.
Stainless steel inner chamber for easy cleaning
The inner chamber of the ULT freezer should be made of stainless steel for easy and fast de-icing and cleaning. Be careful when cleaning a painted or coated chamber to avoid damaging the surface.
The air filter should be accessible in an easy way by removing some quick fasteners or flip down an access panel.

Summarizing, there are indeed some aspects when selecting a freezer which have an impact on your convenience when using these instruments on a daily basis.

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