MDF-U700VX Dual Cooling -86℃ freezers bring peace of mind at The Pirbright Institute

First established 100 years ago, the Pirbright Institute is a world leading center of excellence in research and surveillance of animal viruses and zoonotic diseases. It plays a vital role in the investigation and control of animal diseases with serious economic and public health implications. As the only specialized animal pathogen facility in the United Kingdom (UK), its work is critical both nationally and internationally. With the importance of its work and expertise growing daily, the institute is undergoing a major redevelopment of its two main research sites.

With the purchase of 30 units of MDF-U700VX, “Our new high containment lab enables 150 scientists and support staff to undertake research on highly contagious viruses including Foot-and-Mouth Disease, Swine Fever and highly pathogenic Avian Influenza viruses,” said Miriam Head of Research Services Group. “Equipment security and reliability are our top priorities. Dealing with pathogenic biological material means we never compromise on safety. Whilst the decision making process was subject to tender, we chose Panasonic equipment on the basis of the unique capabilities of the Panasonic MDF-U700VX TwinGuard -86ºC freezers and the reliability and longevity of our previous Panasonic equipment.”

Deciding on Dual Cooling

“We were particularly impressed with Panasonic’s dual cool compressor system and it was the biggest factor in our purchasing decision,” added Miriam. “It is imperative that our samples are safely stored with the reassurance provided by the dual cool compressor system, we know that if one compressor did fail, we would have more time to take appropriate action. Although so far, we’ve had no problems whatsoever. No other manufacturer offers this kind of advanced system assurance.”

Arun Parmar, Panasonic’s UK Sales Manager, explained how evolving customer needs have driven development of Panasonic’s dual cool compressor system. “Many of our customers’ samples are extremely valuable, either scientifically, commercially or historically, and some are even irreplaceable.


Arun Parmar at left, Miriam Windsor at right

“It is essential that we ensure our freezers provide a safe environment for these samples. Reliability is critical. In addition, the processing of these samples has become more expensive. If a freezer goes down, the implications are becoming much more significant. Although Panasonic products are well known for reliability, our dual cool compressor system was developed to make sure extra capacity is available to cover any eventuality.”

Long term vision

Long term product reliability was another key factor in the Pirbirght Institute’s choice.

“We have a long standing relationship with Panasonic and have used their products with absolutely no problems for many, many years,” said Miriam.

“By contrast, some of the products made by other manufacturers have failed whilst still under warranty! Even our ‘ancient’ Sanyo freezers have never broken down. The long term performance of Panasonic’s products was another important deciding factor for us.”

Delivering performance in a dynamic environment

The Pirbright Institute has a highly dynamic work environment. Samples brought into the Institute can arrive at any time of the day or night from anywhere in the world. The number and volume of samples requiring freezing can vary widely at any given time. The energy-saving capacity of the MDF-U700VX is very effective in this instance. The dual cool compressor system’s ECO mode is an industry first. The two independent refrigeration systems can run in overlapping cycles to minimize energy consumption, whilst maintaining the highest levels of performance. The facility is effectively staffed 24-hours a day. In addition, the staff present range in a variety of specialisms and work patterns. Security was a specific issue for the Institute, due to its workflows and the volumes and pathogenic nature of samples.

Smooth installation

One important challenge that the institute experienced in equipping the new high containment laboratory was connected to the removal of old freezers. Only one old freezer could be decommissioned at a time, which meant that the MDF-U700VX could only be installed and commissioned gradually. Panasonic arranged and managed the entire process on behalf of the institute.

Significant savings

The institute’s 30 units of MDF-U700VX are bringing significant results.

“The Panasonic TwinGuard freezers have saved space. They are taller and have a bigger internal capacity that enables us to fit more samples in,” said Miriam. “We are also already seeing savings in energy use and we have not had any emergency call-outs. Overall, these benefits save substantial operational costs. Panasonic products really seem to be designed to directly solve problems that our scientists encounter.”

Strong service and support

Preventative maintenance of Panasonic equipment through a service agreement is an increasingly popular option. The institute is in the process of setting up a service contract with Panasonic for regular maintenance of MDF-U700VX and other Panasonic products.

“Alongside a solid knowledge base and continuity, long term customer support through effective service provision is an increasingly important element in our success,” said Arun.