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Freezer Management Program Delivers Cost Avoidance

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A major pharmaceutical R&D facility’s freezer management program had become a burden for researchers. Facing exhausted freezer capacity and limited space, the facility had limited options for expanding without making unwanted trade-offs, such as taking over prime real estate in labs to add more freezers or outsourcing to external freezer programs.

The concern of routine freezer maintenance only grew as project teams no longer had extra freezer space to store samples in the event of equipment failure. Without consistent procedures for maintaining freezer sample inventories, samples were routinely misplaced or lost, and when a needed sample could not be located, the facility knew it had serious regulatory compliance concerns in the event of an investigation or audit.

What could the facility do to fix the problem without incurring the costs of expanding their freezer operations?


VWRCATALYST was called on to establish a freezer maintenance program for the facility. With experience in the critical nature of maintaining scientific samples, Avantor Services developed a solution that deployed an experienced staff with logistics and scientific lab experience to optimize the freezer program.

After carefully analyzing the current state, Avantor Services initiate comprehensive process controls for freezer inventory. The team developed a user-friendly but controlled drop-off and pick-up process with guaranteed turn-around times for both incoming and outgoing samples. A comprehensive inventory of the samples was also completed. An inventory review, with the assistance of the R&D team, allowed expired materials to be marked for disposal.

With an accurate database of the stored samples, attention turned to developing a preventative maintenance program to mitigate against catastrophic freezer failure.


  • Five freezers worth of open space regained from inventory clean-up and reorganization.
  • $70,000 in cost avoidance from avoiding purchase of additional freezers
  • 432 hours per year recovered for scientists after redirecting sample management activities
  • $440,000 in savings realized through process improvements

The company was able to:

  • Refocus end-user time from sample inventorying and searching back to science
  • Avoid the purchase of additional freezers
  • Preserve laboratory space for science vs. freezer storage
  • Harmonize a labeling system across departments
  • Focus on creating SOPs and controls to ensure process sustainability
  • Drive process efficiencies in areas including processing of new sample deliveries

The success of this freezer management program has resulted in adoption of the program by additional groups within the organization.

Output of Avantor Services Freezer Management Program
Samples processed per week (incoming and outgoing) 2,000-2,100
Sample requests per week 25-30
Freezers maintained 52

Current at time of publication.

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Success Story


A large pharmaceutical R&D facility was facing increasing freezer program costs.


Avantor Services developed controls and processes to reclaim freezer space, refocus scientists’ time, and ensure effective preventative maintenance planning.


The customer has reclaimed five freezers worth of space, refocused 432 hours for scientists, and captured $440,000 in process savings.

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