How 200€ IoT Tech could have prevented a $47 million research loss in Sweden.

How 200€ IoT Tech could have prevented a $47 million research loss in Sweden.

In light of a catastrophic freezer failure at the Karolinska Institutet, which obliterated invaluable research samples, this blog post underscores the pivotal role of IoT monitoring in preventing such losses. We present a straightforward guide to deploying an IoT-based system for as little as 200€, showcasing how cutting-edge technology can secure critical research against unforeseen failures, ensuring peace of mind and the safety of irreplaceable assets.


In a recent unfortunate event at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, the scientific community was reminded of the critical importance of reliable monitoring systems. A freezer malfunction, resulting from a disruption in the liquid nitrogen supply, led to the destruction of decades' worth of research samples. These were not just any samples; they included irreplaceable materials vital for leukemia research. The incident unfolded just before Christmas, affecting 16 cryogenic tanks designed to maintain samples at -190 degrees Celsius. Under normal conditions, these tanks could safeguard the samples for up to four days without nitrogen. However, by the time the malfunction was discovered, it was too late.

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The Costly Lesson from a Freezer Failure

The fallout from this incident is immense, with estimated damages running into millions of dollars. While the police were notified, there was no indication of external tampering, pointing to a systemic failure in the monitoring and alert systems in place. This loss, though not affecting ongoing patient care directly, represents a significant setback for researchers who have invested years, if not decades, into their work.

This incident serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities inherent in relying on traditional monitoring methods, especially in settings where the stakes are so high. It underscores the need for advanced, IoT-based monitoring solutions that can offer real-time alerts and ensure such catastrophes are averted in the future. The integration of such technology is not just an upgrade; it's a necessity for safeguarding the invaluable assets that drive scientific progress and innovation.

Why Wasn't It Simple to Monitor?

While monitoring a refrigerator might seem straightforward, the situation becomes complex when dealing with cryogenic tanks. These tanks store extremely sensitive and valuable samples, requiring precise temperature control. Traditional monitoring solutions are often expensive, not integrated, and lack real-time alerting capabilities, making them inadequate for such critical applications.

Existing Solutions and Their Limitations

Although there are solutions for monitoring the fill level and temperature of liquid nitrogen tanks, they are often costly and do not offer a comprehensive approach. Most lack an IoT-based real-time alert system, meaning even if they monitor conditions, alerts may not be promptly acted upon, especially during off-hours like weekends.

Another issue is that you need to monitor either the fill level of the tanks or the temperature inside the tanks liquid, or the insulation in order to determine the fill level based on the temperature. If there is enough liquid, then the temperature stays around -190°C but if it rises, this indicates that the liquid is likely starting to run low. This requires specialized equipment and sensors, but the majority of the tanks do have a probe or temperature insertion opening where you can measure the temperature.

The Solution

We introduce a cost-effective, comprehensive monitoring solution that utilizes IoT technology to safeguard your samples against such disasters. This guide will detail a system that not only monitors but also alerts you in real-time, ensuring round-the-clock protection of your valuable resources.

How Long?

Setting up this monitoring system is quick and efficient. With all components on hand, you can have the system operational in less than half a day.

The Gateway

Our solution begins with establishing a local temperature monitoring and alerting system through a small IoT network. We utilize the LoRaWAN network for its extended range and low energy consumption. The RAKwireless WisGate Edge Lite 2 serves as our gateway, offering easy setup, professional performance, and aesthetic appeal.

Curious what LoRaWAN is? It can be compared to WiFi but with much better range (several kilometers) and a lot less energy consumption (sensors can run on single battery charge for years).

RAKwireless WisGate Edge Lite 2

When setting up an IoT-based monitoring system for sensitive environments such as cryogenic tanks, choosing the right gateway is crucial. One of the gateways that we often use is the RAKwireless WisGate Edge Lite 2.

The WisGate Edge Lite 2 by RAKwireless stands out as an affordable yet professional choice for establishing a LoRaWAN network. Its ease of setup and high performance make it a standout option for those seeking reliability without breaking the bank. Additionally, its sleek design is a bonus, blending well with various settings.

Functionally, the WisGate Edge Lite 2 is akin to a WiFi router but is specifically designed for LoRaWAN communications. This means it offers a much wider range and operates with significantly lower energy consumption. Setting it up is straightforward, thanks to its user-friendly web interface. All you need to do is connect the gateway to the internet, which can be done through either Ethernet or WiFi, depending on your setup's requirements. This flexibility ensures that the WisGate Edge Lite 2 can easily integrate into your existing network infrastructure.

For those interested in incorporating the WisGate Edge Lite 2 into their monitoring systems, further details and purchasing options are available at RAKwireless's online store. This gateway not only promises a seamless setup process but also guarantees a reliable foundation for your IoT network, ensuring that your monitoring system is both efficient and effective.

Adding Cellular Connectivity for Extra Safety

For those who want to ensure their monitoring system remains operational at all times, adding a 4G or LTE cellular option to your gateway is a smart move. This feature means a bit more investment upfront, but it offers a big advantage: your system can keep sending data even if your usual internet connection goes down. Because it uses cellular networks, you won't need to rely on WiFi or Ethernet connections.

Another benefit of using cellular connectivity is that it simplifies the installation process. There's no need to connect the gateway to your local network, which means you can skip the step of getting permission from IT departments. This makes setting up your monitoring system faster and less complicated, giving you peace of mind that your critical data is always being transmitted securely, no matter what.

Choosing the Right SIM Card

When it comes to connecting your gateway with cellular networks, the choice of SIM card is important. Although the market offers a wide array of SIM cards, we particularly recommend 1NCE SIMs for their reliability and compatibility with IoT devices. These SIMs are designed to work seamlessly with a variety of networks, ensuring that your monitoring system stays connected.

For those interested in exploring this option further, you can find more information about 1NCE SIMs and their offerings on their website at This recommendation doesn't limit your choices, as most standard SIM cards should work well with your system. However, opting for a SIM card that's tailored for IoT applications like 1NCE can enhance the overall efficiency and reliability of your monitoring setup.

Ensuring Continuous Power with a UPS

For maximum reliability of your monitoring system, incorporating an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is a wise choice. A UPS provides a backup power source, ensuring that your gateway remains operational even during a power outage. This added layer of protection is crucial for maintaining continuous monitoring and data transmission, especially in critical applications.

RAKwireless offers a compatible UPS solution specifically designed for their WisGate gateways. This ensures a seamless integration with your existing setup, providing peace of mind that your system has the resilience to withstand power interruptions.

You can find more information and purchase the UPS directly from RAKwireless by visiting their store. Adding a UPS to your setup not only enhances the system's reliability but also extends the operational continuity of your IoT monitoring solution, ensuring that your data is always being captured and transmitted, no matter the circumstances.

Cryogenic Sensor - Dragino LTC2-LT

For the critical task of monitoring cryogenic tanks, the choice of sensor is paramount. We recommend a battery-operated LoRaWAN Sensor Node that is specifically designed to interface with up to two PT100 sensors. This type of sensor is ideal for our purposes because it's engineered to operate in extremely low temperatures, making it perfect for cryogenic applications.

Among the various versions available, we've chosen one that comes pre-equipped with a PT100 sensor. This sensor is not just any temperature sensor; it's specially selected for its suitability in cryogenic environments. This ensures accurate and reliable monitoring of temperatures that are crucial for the safe storage of sensitive materials.

For more details on this sensor and to see its specifications, you can visit the Dragino website at this link. Here, you'll find information on how this sensor can fit into your monitoring setup, offering peace of mind through its precision and reliability in even the most extreme conditions.

Key Features of the Cryogenic Sensor

Our chosen sensor for cryogenic monitoring excels in two critical areas: its ability to operate across a wide temperature range and its impressive battery life.

Broad Temperature Sensor: This sensor can measure temperatures as low as -190°C, making it perfect for cryogenic applications. The stainless steel mesh and silicone insulation ensure durability in extreme conditions. Ideal for monitoring critical temperatures in preserving sensitive materials.

Long-lasting Battery Performance: The sensor's battery can support continuous operation for up to five years under standard conditions, collecting temperature data every 15 minutes. Adjusting the interval to every 5 minutes reduces battery life to about two years, while setting it to every hour can extend it up to ten years. This flexibility allows you to customize the monitoring system to your needs.

Up to Two Custom PT100 Probes: Our flexible sensor is designed for custom cryogenic monitoring applications, featuring a PT100 sensor that offers accurate temperature measurements. The device allows for easy swapping of sensors for specialized needs and supports up to two PT100 sensors simultaneously for comprehensive monitoring. This versatility ensures a tailored and reliable temperature monitoring solution for your unique cryogenic storage or research requirements.

Technical Data

The sensor designed for cryogenic monitoring comes with a set of technical specifications that ensure its suitability and reliability for a range of low-temperature applications. Here’s a closer look at its key technical data:

Size: The compact dimensions of the sensor, measuring 150 x 120 x 55 mm, make it easy to install in a variety of settings without requiring extensive space.

Probe Installation: The sensor is designed for insert installation, allowing for direct contact with the environment being monitored to ensure accurate temperature readings.

Probe Dimensions: The probe has a slim profile with dimensions of 4 x 30 mm, enabling it to be inserted into narrow spaces without issue.

Measurement Range: Capable of measuring temperatures from as low as -196°C up to 150°C, the sensor covers a wide range that includes extreme cryogenic conditions as well as more moderate temperatures.

Cable Length: With a 2-meter-long cable, the sensor provides flexibility in placement, allowing the monitoring unit to be positioned at a distance from the probe insertion point.

PT100 Sensor: The sensor utilizes a Heraeus PT100, known for its precision and reliability in temperature measurement across a broad range of applications.

Suitable Environments: Specifically designed for low-temperature measurement, this sensor is ideal for critical applications such as the transport of COVID vaccines, monitoring of cryogenic probes, and other cryogenic applications.

Optional Sensor - Dragino LHT65N

While the primary focus of our IoT network setup is on cryogenic temperature monitoring, it's worth noting that the infrastructure you establish can support a variety of other sensors for different monitoring needs. One such versatile sensor that complements our cryogenic temperature sensor is the Dragino LHT65N.

The Dragino LHT65N is a valuable addition for those looking to extend their monitoring capabilities beyond cryogenic temperatures. This sensor is designed for temperature monitoring in environments not as extreme as cryogenic conditions, with an external probe that can be utilized in fridges or freezers. It's capable of measuring temperatures as low as -20°C, making it suitable for a wide range of cold storage applications.

Additionally, the LHT65N sensor itself can operate in environments as cold as 5°C, ensuring reliable performance in most standard refrigeration units. Beyond temperature, this sensor also has the capability to monitor humidity levels, adding another layer of environmental monitoring to your setup. This feature is particularly useful in applications where both temperature and humidity control are critical for maintaining the quality and integrity of stored materials.

Incorporating the Dragino LHT65N into your IoT network not only broadens the scope of your monitoring system but also enhances your ability to maintain optimal conditions across different storage environments. This sensor's inclusion offers a more comprehensive understanding of the environmental parameters affecting your sensitive materials, ensuring their safety and longevity.

The Software

To fully capitalize on your IoT hardware for monitoring tasks, you need a reliable software platform for data analysis and alerts, which is where Datacake shines. It's more than just a data repository; it's a comprehensive platform for visualizing, analyzing, and managing the data from your sensors and gateways. With Datacake, you can easily monitor critical environmental conditions and receive alerts for any anomalies, ensuring the safety and integrity of your monitored assets.

What sets Datacake apart is its free access model. You can connect your gateways and up to five different IoT sensors at no cost, unlocking a suite of powerful features including alert rules, without the need for a credit card. This makes Datacake an accessible and powerful tool for anyone looking to implement IoT monitoring with minimal upfront investment.

Getting your IoT monitoring system up and running with Datacake is straightforward and efficient.

Here's how to begin:

Beginning your journey with Datacake's IoT monitoring platform is just a few clicks away. Here’s how to get started:

1. Sign Up: Visit to create your account. The sign-up process is straightforward and quick, ensuring you can get started without delay.

2. Set Up Your Workspace: Upon signing up, you'll be directed to your first workspace. This is where the magic happens. You can add your LoRaWAN gateways, connect your IoT devices, and even invite team members to collaborate.

First, add your LoRaWAN Gateway to your Datacake workspace. This process involves configuring the gateway to communicate with Datacake's servers. Simply follow the on-screen instructions after clicking the "Add Gateway" button. Datacake provides comprehensive documentation and support, ensuring your gateway is operational in minutes.

Integrating sensors into your monitoring system on Datacake is designed to be as smooth and user-friendly as possible. Here’s how to add a sensor, like the Dragino LTC2-LT, to your setup:

1. Access the Sensor Template: Datacake provides a dedicated template for the Dragino LTC2-LT sensor. This template is tailored to streamline the setup process, ensuring that your sensor is correctly configured from the start.

2. Enter ID Numbers: Locate the three ID numbers on your sensor's package. These unique identifiers are crucial for registering your sensor with the Datacake platform.

3. Activate Your Sensor: With the ID numbers entered, your sensor is ready to go. It’s now actively part of your IoT network, ready to transmit data for monitoring and analysis.

Once your sensor is up and running on Datacake, the next crucial step is to create rules for alerting. These rules act as your monitoring system's first line of defense, ensuring you're promptly notified if conditions stray from the norm. Here's a simple guide to creating an alert rule for temperature monitoring:

1. Navigate to Rules: In your Datacake dashboard, click on "rules" in the sidebar. This will take you to the rule engine where you can define your custom alerts.

2. Create a New Rule: Use the editor to start crafting your rule. Begin by selecting the sensor device you've added to your workspace. This tells Datacake which device's data to monitor for this particular rule.

3. Define the Condition: Choose the temperature value reported by your sensor as the condition to monitor. Then, set the criteria for the alert, such as "greater than" or "smaller than" a specific threshold. For cryogenic monitoring, you might set a rule to alert you if the temperature exceeds -180°C, indicating a potential issue with the liquid nitrogen levels.

4. Specify the Action: Decide on the action Datacake should take when the condition is met. Typically, this would involve sending an email to one or more recipients you specify. This way, you and your team can quickly respond to potential issues.

5. Optional SMS Alerts: For an added layer of notification, consider setting up SMS alerts. This feature requires purchasing SMS credits but can be invaluable for urgent communications.

Datacake's live dashboard feature revolutionizes how you monitor cryogenic tanks, offering instant access to critical data right when you need it. Here's how it enhances your monitoring capabilities:

With the Dragino LTC2-LT sensor's integration, the live dashboard immediately displays current temperature levels. This real-time data is crucial for maintaining the optimal conditions within your cryogenic tanks, allowing you to react swiftly to any deviations from the desired temperature range.

Beyond just current temperatures, the dashboard also provides historical temperature trends. This data is invaluable, offering insights into the performance and stability of your cryogenic systems over time. By understanding these trends, you can anticipate potential issues before they become problems, ensuring the longevity and safety of your stored materials.

For facilities with multiple tanks, the live dashboard's ability to create overviews of all your tanks or even map their locations is particularly beneficial. This feature ensures you have a holistic view of your monitoring network, allowing for efficient management of resources and quicker responses to any issues that may arise.

Datacake enhances your monitoring capabilities with its comprehensive, completely free smartphone app. This tool puts the power of live data monitoring in the palm of your hand, ensuring you're always connected to your cryogenic tanks, regardless of your location. Here's how you can leverage this app for seamless monitoring:

Activating the dashboard sharing feature is your first step to mobile monitoring. Once activated, download the Datacake app available for both Apple iPhone and Android devices. A simple scan of the QR code with the app syncs your account, granting instant access to your dashboards.

With the app, the latest temperature levels and historical data trends of your liquid nitrogen sample tanks are just a tap away. This immediate access allows for timely decisions, ensuring the safety and integrity of your samples. Whether you're in the office, in the field, or on the move, you have the crucial data you need.

To start monitoring your cryogenic tanks with unmatched convenience and mobility, download the Datacake app from the following links:

•For iOS users: Apple App Store

•For Android users: Google Play Store

Implementing an IoT-based monitoring system for cryogenic tanks or other sensitive environments is both accessible and cost-effective. Let's break down the costs associated with setting up this system, distinguishing between the basic and advanced versions to cater to different needs and budgets.

The basic version of the system includes everything necessary to begin monitoring:

RAK 7268V2 LoRaWAN WisGate Edge Lite 2 Indoor Gateway: This gateway serves as the backbone of your monitoring network, connecting your sensors to the internet via local ethernet or WiFi. Priced at 140€.

Dragino LTC2-LT Sensor: Essential for temperature monitoring, especially in cryogenic applications, available for 60€.

Total Cost: 200€. This setup is ideal for those looking to start with a simple, cost-effective solution. However, it's important to note that this version lacks protection against power outages or internet disruptions.

For environments where continuous monitoring is critical, the advanced version includes additional safeguards:

RAK 7268V2 LoRaWAN WisGate Edge Lite 2 Indoor Gateway with Cellular LTE Connection: Upgraded gateway for enhanced connectivity, even during internet outages, priced at 230€.

SIM Card: For cellular connectivity, adding an extra 10€ to your costs.

Mini UPS with 12V DC Output: This uninterruptible power supply ensures your system remains operational during power outages, costing 30€.

Dragino LTC2-LT Sensor: As in the basic setup, priced at 60€.

Total Cost: 330€. This version is designed for those requiring a more robust system, capable of withstanding power and internet outages to ensure continuous monitoring.

Adding more tanks to your monitoring system is straightforward and cost-efficient. With a single gateway able to support hundreds of sensors:

Price per Additional Tank: 60€ for each additional Dragino LTC2-LT sensor.

Once your LoRaWAN Gateway is in place, you can easily expand your IoT network by adding various sensors for different monitoring needs, including door sensors, ambient sensors, energy monitors, CO2 sensors, and more. This flexibility allows you to tailor the system to your specific requirements, enhancing the safety and efficiency of your operations.

Whether starting with the basic setup or opting for the advanced system, the investment in an IoT monitoring solution offers significant value, particularly when compared to the potential costs associated with unmonitored environments.

In today's fast-paced world, reliable monitoring systems are essential for protecting assets like cryogenic tanks. The integration of IoT technology offers a cost-effective solution that enhances safety and efficiency. Datacake's platform provides user-friendly monitoring tools for various needs and budgets.

With a starting cost of 200€, IoT monitoring systems offer great value and scalability. Embracing IoT technology is crucial for securing operations against failures, with platforms like Datacake making setup and management easy for all organizations. The role of IoT in monitoring critical assets will continue to grow, emphasizing the need to adopt this technology now.