Winter is coming....
The leaves are turning red and falling from the trees, the nights are drawing in and pumpkin carving season is upon us. Whilst the UK government ponders whether we are allowed to go trick or treating, we thought this month we would focus on the facilities, procedures and network that Cryoniss have in place to ensure we provide customers peace of mind that their samples are safe with us and accessible at any time. Just one less thing for people to worry about this year.
At Cryoniss, our customers' peace of mind is of the utmost importance to us and it has been an integral part of how our company has been established....
A long time ago, in a galaxy that now seems psychologically far, far away (but was actually back in good old innocent, pre-pandemic 2017) with the support of the Alderley Park Accelerator Team I completed a customer discovery exercise, to ensure that we built a business that truly supported its customers’ needs.
Having listened to the priorities of our customers, I found that access to versatile sample storage capabilities was a key requirement. Versatility, flexibility...yes, agility! It was music to my Kaizen-atuned ears! Kaizen, otherwise referred to as continual improvement. Therefore, in our faithful lean six sigma style, when we looked to build a specialised facility, we designed it with a flexible plug-and-play model for the immediate installation of multiple types of cold storage units, enabling us to accommodate everything from 96 well plates, 1mL cryovials to 500mL bottles and everything in between.
Further to this, the ability to expand our operations quickly was also a key requirement. Alongside managing our inherent business growth, the driver for this was several customers requesting no upfront fees for the reservation of space, particularly for clinical trials samples to be collected and stored over several years. As a company that is proud of the open and honest approach we take with our customers, we were determined to implement no enforced contractual tie-in periods. We believe our customers stay with us because we provide a consistently excellent service, and are always on the end of the phone or email, ready, willing and able to provide additional support for ad hoc requests such as storing companies’ samples in the short term whilst they move labs, a frequent request during lockdown in 2020.
As part of the plans for growth, in November 2019, we signed a contract to open up our larger operations site at The Heath Business and Technical Park. This has enabled us to expand our sample storage facilities to include room temperature, +4°C, -20°C and -80°C, alongside our world class vapour phase liquid nitrogen facility at Alderley Park.
The Heath was determined as the perfect next stage for Cryoniss’ expansion for three main reasons. Firstly the exceptional, customer-focussed, on-site facilities management team are experts in supporting scientific companies, and could support our team to design, build and maintain a specialised facility. Secondly, the location of the Science Park is ideal for network links. The on-site Security, SHE (safety, health and environment) and Engineering teams work as an extension of our own team. Last of all, and most critically, Cryoniss can also expand exponentially on-site.
Working seamlessly with the SOG team, Phil Hargreaves our Chief Operating Officer, developed a specialised facility that could deliver on our critical success factors aligned to delivering our exceptional, agile and tailored service.
As for our quality management system, this was already in place, developed over the past two years with the support of QualiSys, and based on a continual improvement philosophy (Kaizen again – I did warn you!). Our processes and procedures were simply updated to enable us to continue to offer next day access to samples for operations at The Heath, as well as Alderley Park. This was another key requirement our customers had requested.
Together with the expert on-site team, our new facility was opened in February 2020. Superb timing, I’m sure you’d agree! Shiny new storage units were set up, cleaned, serviced and temperature mapped to UKAS standards. Our two independent laboratory monitoring systems and watchdog functionality had successfully completed end-to-end validation, and our business continuity management system and plans had been fully stress tested. What mysterious, impossible-to-predict spanner in the works could possibly impact us?
And then, as I was planning our opening party and Phil was putting on his top hat, tying off his white tie etc. etc. SARS-Cov-2 reached the UK and the nation went into lockdown. Sadly, the champagne still remains perfectly chilled at +4°C in our office fridge, and in-person celebrations have been put on hold.
However, throughout lockdown, we have continued to operate our normal service throughout with next day dispatch and receipt of samples across both sites. Our agile response has at least been well and truly tested, and Kaizen hasn’t let me down. As the country is grappling with a second wave of Covid-19, we continue to be primed and ready to support the next request, whether that be for Covid-19 or other research and clinical samples.
Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we can support you and your team today.
In the meantime, as many of us turned to cute animal pictures to cheer up our moods in lockdown, here are a couple to aid a Happy Halloween!
Thanks for reading this month's newsletter and I look forward to talking to you in the near future.