Best Practices for purchasing lab automation equipment? A step by step guide.



purchasing lab automation equipment guide for slas“Good, cheap and fast.  Pick two.
– Manufacturing idiom.

The above quote is included to remind us all that there are no perfect solutions and in purchasing lab automation equipment we are balancing price, throughput, flexibility, scalability, durability, and a host of other factors. That being said here are some simple steps we recommend you go through to get started down the right path to purchasing lab automation equipment in a new lab or replacing automation in your existing processes.

Step 1.  Make a flow chart of your current lab operation and/or automation.

This might feel like overkill and a good vendor may put this together for you, but breaking out Visio or PowerPoint to make a flow chart is time well spent and will make the rest of the lab automation selection process much less painful.  Putting pen to paper and creating  a flow chart will ensure all steps to process a sample are accounted for and allow/force vendors to present solutions that eliminate and / or automate specific steps.

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I hate labeling tubes! – The 5 Biggest Issues With Sample Identification



5 issues


As you might imagine, we deal with a lot of lab technicians, research associates, scientists, post docs, lab managers, supervisor and yes, even directors who have to deal either directly or indirectly with sample identification. Over the years, we’ve collected a laundry list of issues they mention with labeling the collections tubes. 

So we thought, we’d share the five biggest issues with sample identification so you can solve them before they happen!

1.  Volume and throughput.

This is by far the biggest issue we see with sample identification.  Even with the increased use of microplates and microarrays, labeling of individual tubes continues to grows as life science research grows and new diagnostic tests are introduced.  Whether it’s an “all hands on deck labeling party” or just the daily

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Linear (1D) vs. 2D Barcodes for Laboratory Sample Identification



The vast majority of modern barcodes fall into 2 basic categories – linear (1D) and 2-dimensional (2D).  Some people mistakenly refer to 2D barcodes as 3D barcodes and while 3D barcodes do exist, they are generally never seen and used in life sciences.

Linear (also known as 1D or 1-dimensional) barcodes encode data using vertical bars and spaces.  The most common format in life science and clinical laboratories is Code 128 since this standard can encode all 128 ASCII characters and requires the smallest amount of space compared to other linear barcode standards.

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Top 5 Considerations in Choosing a Unique Identifier (UID)



choosing a unique identifierAs a lab operation grows, so does the need to have unique identifiers (UID) for each sample to track its processing and associate particular biological / chemical properties and analytical results.  Often, the first step in implementing a new process or adopting a laboratory information management system (LIMS) is choosing a unique identifier, specifically the length and format.

1. Number of samples 

While this may seem obvious, the more samples your lab processes in a given time, the longer your UID will need to be.  For example, if your lab processes

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Lab Automation and Sample Identification Blog Launches



Welcome to our first post on the TubeWriter.com news blog.

The intention for this space is to share information related to lab automation and sample identification and provide information on hardware, software and labware that can streamline processes and reduce errors. In fact, we developed the TubeWriter for just this reason.  We believe there is a real need for better systems to automate repetitive laboratory tasks for all labs (not just the high-throughput screening or production lab) and ensure no sample gets lost.

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