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Lab2lab software design - 11.2 Identifying vials and associating them with methods

When a vial is first sent from a Sender to the Router its ID is unknown and it is internally given a generated ID such as “UNKNOWN001”. As more vials are submitted the numeric suffix is incremented until it reaches 999 (or until the Director application is closed down). Then 001 is used again. 

When the vial arrives at the Router lab2lab will attempt to read its barcode. If the vial is successfully read, lab2lab will then check the database for any information registered for it. If no information is found and lab2lab has other vials to deal with, the vial will be sent immediately to the Buffer. But if no information is found, the lab2lab system is not busy and there are idle instruments available, then the vial will be held in the Router for 20 seconds. The reason for this is that when registering a vial scientists often scan its barcode and then immediately place the vial into the Sender and close the lid. They then proceed with entering the rest of the registration information. This can result in the vial being transported to the Router a few seconds before its details have been registered. 

If on the first attempt the barcode reader fails to read the vial, the Router arm rotates to the short section of vertical pipe positioned over the Waste Bin. The vial is blown up the pipe before dropping back down into the arm. Having been reoriented the Router arm will return to the barcode reader position and another attempt will be made to read the barcode.  

If this is still unsuccessful the reorientation will be tried twice more. If the barcode still cannot be read the vial will be sent to the Collection Point and an explanatory error message will be displayed along with an automated email sent to the assigned recipients (see the Settings section in the 'lab2lab Lab Managers Manual'). 

If the same thing happens with the next 2 vials (this number is a parameter in the configuration file) this would indicate a major problem; perhaps a batch of faulty vials or something is obscuring the Router's barcode reader. lab2lab will then go into error and no vials will be processed until the issue has been resolved and Director has been reset.