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Autoscribe Integrates Field Sample Planning and Scheduling Management


Scheduling and collecting field samples in a controlled way is often as essential first step to creating statistical data that a laboratory can stand behind. Integrating field collection software with Matrix Gemini LIMS provides this assurance.

Laboratories, particularly those working in regulated environments, have long recognized the importance of good record keeping and traceability, implementing Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) to ensure unequivocal results. But what happens before the samples reach the laboratory? How do you efficiently manage sampling and testing in the field or even within the manufacturing plant and still guarantee the integrity of the data generated? This is a challenge faced by many sectors, from water sampling and environmental monitoring to the pharma, dairy, food and beverage, and brewing industries, which must perform sampling and testing at critical points in the manufacturing process, to maintain regulatory compliance and assure the quality and safety of the end product.

Efficient, effective organization and scheduling is the key to ensuring that the right sample is collected, at the right time and from the right location. Once a sample is received in the laboratory, it is entered into the LIMS, which is used to assign, schedule, track and trace the relevant tests. But before this can occur, the field sampling team must visit the designated site to collect the requested samples for transfer to the lab. They may also be required to perform simple on-site tests, such as pH and temperature monitoring., All too often this field sampling relies on hand-written records, which increases the likelihood of errors occurring and may raise issues with maintaining a complete chain of custody. Autoscribe has integrated its flagship Matrix Gemini LIMS with Trilogy’s TAPS and HAND software applications, to offer a solution that helps overcome this challenge with seamless connectivity between the field teams and the laboratory.

How do TAPS and HAND help field sampling?

Field testing places a considerable administration burden on companies, whatever the industry. This is where integration of Matrix Gemini LIMS with TAPS and HAND comes into its own. TAPS is a sample planning and scheduling software that was developed in collaboration with water sampling, environmental monitoring companies and regulatory bodies to:

  • Streamline management of field sampling – plan and schedule the sampling program, assign samplers, and print collection round instructions and sample labels.
  • Ensure compliance – planning tools include the ability to select sites randomly (with within pre-defined groups) and to randomize the timing of sample collection to comply with local regulations. Calendar views clearly display the sampling schedule. Missed sampling and testing is identified, allowing any issues to be rectified and corrective action taken as required. Compliance with sampling schedules and regulations can therefore be tracked and maintained.
  • Optimize field testing – each sampler’s collection round can be precisely planned according to geographical locations to minimize travelling time, and ad hoc collections are included as necessary to reduce costs while achieving maximum productivity.
  • Automate laboratory registration – full integration with Autoscribe Matrix Gemini LIMS enables sample preregistration from the daily sampling schedules.

TAPS calendar views clearly display the sampling schedule.

Once the sampling schedule has been established, attention turns to the practicalities of working in the field. Despite being away from the lab, the field-testing team must still maintain the security and integrity of sample and data collection until the information can be entered into the LIMS. HAND is the final piece of the puzzle, complementing TAPS to provide a mobile data collection solution for use in the field. Operated from a hand-held device, such as a smartphone, HAND avoids the need for hard-copy worksheets and handwritten results. The sampler downloads their worklist from TAPS to a mobile device and can then enter all on-site sample data directly into the software for electronic transfer to TAPS and, subsequently, LIMS. Data quality is assured by automatically checking the validity of entered information, and assigning date/time and GPS data to sampling and test results. Analytical result limits can be used to gain immediate on-site verification of any problems while the sampler is still at the location. This saves time and minimizes errors, as well as providing a digital chain of custody. Benefits include:

  • Less need for re-sampling – digital records eliminate the problem of illegible hand-written records and the inherent potential for transcription errors. HAND clearly displays the results of on-site testing and checks the values entered to ensure that they are within the expected range and taken at the correct location.
  • Electronic audit trail – a complete chain of custody from pre-scheduling to sample collection and entry of lab results. Samples can be barcoded, and GPS technology used to confirm the exact position and time of sampling.
  • Increased efficiency – samplers save time by downloading their work schedule remotely rather than visiting the office, and the schedule can be amended during the collection round to avoid repeat visits.
  • Rapid escalation of field issues – if a result is outside the permitted range the sampler receives an immediate warning, allowing re-sampling or early escalation.

HAND complements TAPS to provide a mobile data collection solution for use in the field.

Back in the lab

The integration of Matrix Gemini LIMS with TAPS and HAND provides the connectivity required to link the lab with testing in the field, making sample and data handling easier and more secure. Field data is uploaded to the LIMS via TAPS, and is immediately available to laboratory analysts on opening Matrix Gemini; they can see at a glance how many samples are expected, the ID number and the tests required, along with any test results already input in the field:

  • Samples are received into the lab by scanning the barcode on the bottle or manually clicking the Receive Bottle icon, and any missing bottles are identified.
  • A specific test worklist, for example, for pesticides, can be built and automatically populated with the relevant samples and QCs.
  • On completion of the run, the results are entered into the LIMS. As required, these may undergo validation and approval and relevant information exported back to TAPS.

Matrix Gemini LIMS offers dual desktop and web browser interfaces.

Together, Matrix Gemini, TAPS and HAND provide a complete solution for field sample planning, scheduling and management, with a documented audit trail that details the entire chain of custody, and test results available to view, both in the lab and out in the field.

Which sectors could benefit?

While the obvious areas of use are water testing and environmental monitoring, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Field testing is appropriate for so many applications across a broad range of industries, among them pharma, dairy, food and beverage, brewing, chemicals and petrochemicals. It may be necessary to sample from the manufacturing process at critical points and for monitoring purposes, such as swab or settle plate testing in food production areas. No matter which sector is involved, this latest feature of Matrix Gemini LIMS is sure to fit the bill for companies needing to square the circle of ensuring the integrity of their data while efficiently managing sampling and testing in the field.