Students taking the BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Applied Science at Berkshire College of Agriculture (BCA) were given an insight into the practicalities of laboratory sample handling, tracking and management recently through a presentation by John Boother, Managing Director of Autoscribe Ltd. Autoscribe, based in nearby Riseley in Berkshire, is a leading software provider specialising in database management applications including Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) and Quality Management Systems.

The presentation, entitled ‘What is a LIMS?’ was designed to complement BCA’s learners' unit on ‘working within the science industry’. The typical workflow in a laboratory was introduced, with detail on how sample information flow is managed using a paper-based system. Shortcomings of such approaches were discussed, such as manual allocation of sample numbers and recording of time/date for the entry of each piece of data; poor traceability (who did what and when) and time inefficiencies in creating reports.

The students were then shown what a computer system can do, not only in terms of sample tracking and sample management but also changing data into information such as the average turnaround time of a sample and the number of tests run on a particular instrument over a given period of time. The session finished with a short demonstration of Autoscribe’s Matrix Gemini LIMS.

John Boother said: “I was delighted to be invited to give this talk and to further strengthen the company’s links with local educational centres. These students could easily become laboratory technicians in almost any area of science in the future, so it was a great opportunity to explain how some of the procedures and processes are managed. Also, it is good for them to see that there are highly successful local companies around, employing local people. Who knows, some of them might be interested in applying for a job with us in the future”!