Simple tools, simple tracking
If your laboratory is inundated with labelled samples and you want to put some sort of tracking system in place to help you get on top of them, there are many products available to you - but sometimes starting with a simple and inexpensive method can be the best option. This way, you can increase the ease of your sample traceability and improve working efficiency without having a large impact on the department budget.
We have previously spoken of the advantages of having high-tech labels on your storage samples tubes, and the simple addition of a 1D or 2D barcode can allow for the implementation of basic tracking systems – requiring some very simple equipment.
If your tubes have 1D barcodes, then all you will need is a low cost handheld barcode scanner which are readily available. We have also spoken about the advantages, however, that 2D barcodes can have over their larger counterparts, in that they are able to hold more information, and are usually positioned at the bottom of a tube (rather than on the side) allowing them to be scanned automatically while sitting in their rack
If you do decide to reap the benefits of using 2D barcodes for your tubes, the easiest way of tracking them is using a simple tube reader, such as our DataPaq™ Single Tube Scanner. These readers are a straightforward yet effective way of logging tubes – the user simply has to place the barcode over the scanner window, and the code is instantly displayed on screen.
Our DataPaq™ Single Tube Scanner is an extremely straightforward way of processing single samples - simply scan the barcode and the information is instantly displayed on the screen
The right equipment for the job
The great thing about the DataPaq™ Single Tube scanner is that it is essentially a ‘plug in and play’ device, just insert the scanner into the USB port of your PC, and open your software of choice (this could be Excel or even database software); the scanner will put the data directly into the location you have highlighted inside your software. Then all you need to do is build up your spreadsheet. Define columns for the barcode, tube contents/properties, location, and any other useful data that you want to store.
What’s great about this is that once you begin to build your spreadsheet, you can then make use of Excel’s every-day functions in order to use the sheet as a simple information repository. For example, Excel’s search feature can help you to locate that elusive sample, and if you have it in hand, you are one scan away from all the information you will need with regards to its contents.
That really is all it takes to set up a simple tracking system for your precious samples; barcodes, a low cost single tube scanner, and a computer running Excel. Simple.