Salesforce on ice: Biotech company creates connected freezer

The application created by New England Biolabs and integrator Ionia uses barcode scanners, touch screens to track inventory and build closer customer relationships.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

It's sort of a given that more businesses are studying ways to take their Salesforce.com deployments mobile in order to drive even higher levels of customer intimacy. But an application designed by cloud solutions integrator Ionia takes that idea to a whole new place, in this case to connected freezers.


The solution, which was recognized with a Salesforce innovation award last fall (the thumbnail photo for this blog post was taken at that event), works with freezers used by New England BioLabs to store and distribute sensitive enzymes and compounds used for DNA testing and research.

Its purpose is simple: to track what's being used by scientists, so that the company can ensure that supplies are replenished in a timely fashion.

The freezer connects what's being used with specific people, for expense tracking or records that might be required for university grants. Each one is outfitted with a tablet computer: when someone needs a substance, he or she punches in a code, and scans in the enzyme being used. New England Biolabs can monitor the contents of freezers, plus whether or not they are locked or unlocked, and keep tabs on the temperature within -- alerting someone if the door is left open accidentally. The company apparently got the idea after hearing about an application for a connected vending machine.

The video below details the application:

To create the application, Ionia connected the tablet and the Salesforce application using the Heroku cloud development platform, said Amy Wendel, operations manager for the Boston-based integrator.

Ionia is a Platinum level business partner for Heroku, which it uses for mobile development; that's a title held globally by just four cloud integrators. It is a Silver-level Salesforce partner, and is a top-rated AppExchange partner for its work in health care, life sciences and manufacturing.

Ionia has delivered more than 300 solutions over the past eight years after starting life doing Microsoft development, Wendel said. Those projects have included cloud-connected kiosks, cloud connected medical devices, secure physician/patient portals and a slew of mobile applications.

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