Dewar tracking in ISPYB – what is it and how does it help my experiment ?

We have added a number of features to ISPYB in order to help you, both to follow the journey of your sample-containing dewars to and from ESRF when you ship them using a commercial courier and to track their locations once they are at the ESRF.

The main features of the new dewar tracking system in ISPYB are as follows:

  • The creation of labels incorporating a unique bar-code for use when sending dewars to and from the ESRF. The bar-codes on these labels will be used to track the locations of your dewars while they are at the ESRF.
  • The tracking of you dewars during transport from your laboratory to their destination beam-line at the ESRF site and back to your laboratory.
  • The automatic acknowledgment of the arrival of your dewars at ESRF.
  • The automatic acknowledgment of the return of your dewars from the ESRF to your laboratory with their return tracking number.
  • The creation of the necessary information required to allow the ESRF stores deal with your shipments (i.e. contact details etc).

 Dewar Tracking process

Dewar tracking in ISPYB – what are the main changes ?

This new "dewar tracking" process replaces the old process.

To use the "dewar tracking" process :

  • You have to use the "create shipment" option which will create the number of dewars you want.
  • Then you may either fill these dewars by hand creating containers and samples in them, or use the "upload shipment" option from the shipment page.
  • Please note that using this upload feature will erase and replace existing containers/samples data already entered in your dewars.
  • Now use the step-by-step guide to initiate dewar tracking


Step by Step guide



  1. Log-in to ISPYB at with your proposal login and password


  1. Create a Lab-contact card (necessary only the first time your lab uses that system)

Create a Lab-contacts card

More details


Click on the ‘ lab-contacts’ TAB and then on ‘ Create LabContact’ in the left menu of the page.

You will be asked for your name and firstname.

Create your Lab-contact card - step1

If you are not registered within the SMIS database, a list of all the persons within your proposal account will be proposed to you.

You can then select one of your colleagues from your lab and create a Lab-contact card under his/her name.



The information requested at this level is shown below  (with pre-filled information found in the SMIS database):


Create your Lab-contacts card - step2


 Click on Save when you have finished editing your card.



  1. Create a new shipment

Create a shipment

More details

In the Shipment TAB of ISPyB, select ‘create shipment’ in the left menu.

This will bring you to the page below and allows you to describe your shipment, from providing a shipment name, to the number of items you will send (e.g. 1 or more dewars, other equipment etc), selection of a specific beamtime allocation or a set of scheduled visits at the synchrotron, to providing To/From addresses for the shipment and a Lab and Local contact. (Mandatory information is indicated by a red asterisk).


create shipment 1


In the experiments scheduled field, only future experiments scheduled in the user office database will be proposed to you (in the example above there was none). You can select one or more of these future experiments.. By default the 1st date will be attributed to all your shipment components but at the dewar level you will be able to edit the experiment date/location to one or more of the other ones selected at the shipment level. This provides a mechanism for you to dispatch components of a shipment to several beamlines.


  1. Fill-in information about your samples at the View shipment level - Best is to use the upload file option.  You can download an excel file pre-filled with sample acronyms, sample acronyms are only available after the sample sheets have been validated.
    It takes 3 days to validate sample sheets so you must think ahead to do this before preparing your dewar
    (This step is not necessary for the dewar tracking but useful to assist you during your experiment - must be done BEFORE step 6 )

 Upload sample information

More details

In the Shipment TAB of ISPyB, select 'View shipment’ in the left menu.

You'll access to a list of all your shipments and clicking on the upload icon (circled in red above) will bring you to an upload page. This page will look very similar to what you are used to see for a normal shipment upload except that the populated file contains all the dewars you have created through the 'dewar tracking process'.

You can look at the video to see how to upload a shipment form in ISPYB and read the following guidelines which will help you prepare that file step-by-step prior to upload it.

Be aware that if you upload samples from the 'dewar tracking process' as described above, you will erase the samples which were previously created or uploaded for that shipment with the new samples. In the standard upload (outside this dewar tracking process), the upload leads to a new shipment.

  1. Print your labels from ISPYB– stick them on your shipment components

 Print labels menu

More details

Prior to Print your labels, you can Edit the parameters of the components of your shipment by clicking on the pencil icon.
Once finished you can print the labels for each component by clicking on the print icon (as enlighted above).
This will provide you with a pdf composed of 3 labels:

  1. a label to stick on your dewar :


label1 for dewar
  1. a label to print on your sending box surrounding the dewar:


label 2 : TO ESRF label
  1. and a label that you will stick on your sending box when you'll return your dewar from ESRF to your lab.Label 3 : FROM ESRF to User Lab


We recommend that you print the whole file for each component of your shipment, stick the 2 first labels on the dewar & box and save the 3rd label in your box for return (particularly important in case of remote access).

This labels is the essential element of the dewar tracking since they contain a unique populated barcode which will be read upon arrival at ESRF or after each moving of the dewar.

  1. Send your shipment to ESRF with your courier company and inform ISPYB that the shipment was sent. 

 Send shipment

More details

Get your courier company to pick your parcels and keep the tracking numbers for each of them.

In the Shipment TAB, click on the plane icon when you have send your dewar. You will then be asked to fill-in some shipment information like the tracking numbers, date of shipment, expected date of arrival at ESRF:

Shipment Sent




Warning ! Once you clicked ' Send shipment to ESRF' it will be impossible to modify the dewar contents. Hoewever, you can still modify lab-contact details and session details.


 How do I follow the location of my shipment components?


In the Shipment TAB click on View shipment and select the shipment you sent for your experiment.

You 'll view each of it's component information and their locations at the moment of your viewing.



In that example, 4 components for SHIP1 were sent to ESRF through TNT (a click on the TNT tracking number will bring your to the TNT web page)
but they haven't arrived at ESRF yet.




 In that example, 1 dewar was sent in the Shipment PBU15  to ESRF. It has arrived at ESRF (the Lab-contact person has been automatically acknowledged), and it is now on ID23.  If you click on history (circled magnifier icon), you'll access to all the administration around this dewar (Lab-contact card, dates for sending, when it has arrived at ESRF, when it was deposit on ID23...etc).