The Ultimate Guide to Effective Sample Management in the Laboratory


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In the world of scientific research and development, sample management plays a crucial role in maintaining the accuracy and reliability of experimental results. It encompasses a range of essential tasks such as identifying, storing, handling, tracking, and retrieving individual vials within the laboratory environment. Ensuring the integrity of samples directly translates to the integrity of output data, making it an indispensable aspect of any scientific workflow.

The challenge of managing samples becomes increasingly challenging as the volume of compounds handled in the laboratory grows. An added complexity for those operating in the life sciences is the meticulous care needed when handling sensitive and precious biological samples that demand stringent storage conditions.

In this guide, we explore the benefits of automated solutions for every aspect of sample management, that empower you to optimize your laboratory operations and achieve reliable research outcomes.

What are the risks of poor sample management?

When it comes to sample management, poor practices or cutting corners can lead to significant repercussions. Loss or damage due to sample mishandling can lead to wasted time and frustration, or unforeseen financial costs of replacing valuable compounds.

Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the integrity of your data is at stake when samples are not managed correctly. Errors in data integrity can have a domino effect downstream, potentially harming the credibility and trustworthiness of your organization.

Therefore, it is essential to prioritize effective sample management to mitigate these risks and ensure smooth laboratory operations – but what do you need to look for?

Investing in robust and scalable sample management solutions sets you up for long-term security

Only a truly robust sample management system will give you confidence in your samples and your data. This is where automation steps in. Automated sample management systems offer unparalleled consistency and accuracy, by minimizing the risk of human error. Additionally, alleviating the burden from researchers allows them to focus more on their scientific endeavours and ultimately boosts productivity in the laboratory. Furthermore, the automatic creation of an audit trail simplifies information retrieval and troubleshooting, saving time and effort.

Another factor to consider, is the flexibility of your system to grow with you as your business needs expand. Investing intelligently in scalable and future-proof solutions ensures you’re set up correctly for the long term.

Implementing the right automated solution for your workflows makes it easier than ever to ensure smooth operations in your laboratory. This where SPT Labtech steps in – our scientific and engineering experts have developed a suite of automated solutions dedicated to making your life in the laboratory easier.

Barcoding offers unambiguous sample identification, handling and tracking

Uniquely barcoded vials provide a quick and assured method of sample identification, that is significantly more accurate and error-proof than the manual alternative of hand-labelling. When coupled with a LIMS, barcode labels provide a comprehensive sample library accessible to anyone in the team, where every sample’s status and location can be tracked throughout the entire laboratory workflow.

Our BioMicroLab range of versatile and user-friendly instruments provide you with the essential tools to organize your barcoded samples by automating common handling tasks such as scanning, weighing, sorting and labelling. Although trivial in nature, as the number of samples increases, these common tasks are an increasing source of productivity losses and risk of human error. Our intuitive software captures and reports each barcoded sample and its data to your LIMS, so you have all the correct and up-to-date information at your fingertips. Automated solutions for volume checking, weight checking, and scanning provide additional verification steps throughout the workflow, providing comprehensive QC data quickly for your library.

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Figure 1. Sample labeling, handling and organizing is made quick and simple with our BioMicroLab range, dedicated to automating repetitive management tasks. Removing the burden from scientists drives productivity as well as reducing the risk of human-error.

The modular and flexible instrumentation means you can choose functionalities as required for your application. Our BioMicroLab range also includes dedicated benchtop instruments for common standalone tasks such as labelling, capping and scanning, so you can choose the solution tailored to your specific needs, challenges and resources.

Painless cold sample storage and retrieval even at -80°C

Picture this: You need to locate a specific biological sample which you had previously stored in a labelled rack in the top shelf of the -80°C freezer, only to find that it isn’t there. As you search through the freezer, ambient air causes the temperature inside the freezer to rise, and you need to close it before your samples start to thaw. You still don’t have your sample.

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Figure 2. Left: Traditional methods of cold storage are prone to sample loss and damage, leading to frustrated scientists and compromised data. Right: Our vending machine style automated solutions maintain sample integrity at -20°C and -80°C, and deliver your samples directly to you without the stress of manual searching and retrieval.

Our automated cold storage solutions remove all this hassle, by providing robust storage and easy retrieval of all samples in your portfolio. Whether you’re handling sensitive biological samples at -80°C (arktic®) or you’re working with more stable small molecule compounds at -20°C (comPOUND®), our vending machine-style solutions enable you to quickly store, locate and retrieve any sample without any unnecessary and harmful freeze/thaw cycles. Centered around SPT Labtech’s innovative pneumatic technology for tube transport, your samples will remain stable at the desired temperature, minimizing risk of degradation or damage.

Both comPOUND and arktic are built around a modular design for flexibility and scalability. For those with less available space and resources, our new comPACT® -20°C solution makes reliable and efficient cold sample storage and retrieval even more accessible.

Choose the right automated solution for your application to maximize security and efficiency

Our automated solutions for laboratory sample management offer a secure and efficient way to identify, store, handle, track and retrieve samples. Choosing the right solution, or combination of solutions can provide you with long-term confidence and security in the quality of your samples and data. To see our full range of dedicated sample management instruments, find out more here. If you have a question about any of the products mentioned, then please do let us know.