Installing a dedicated sample management system in your laboratory can offer numerous advantages in terms of increased efficiency and limitation of error due to misidentification. The ability to effectively track sample properties, locations, statuses, expiration, and other factors can be a powerful tool enabling your laboratory personnel to make good use of your sample repositories.
If you’re working in a laboratory, be it at a research institute, university, hospital, or a biobank it is possible that you have a large number of legacy samples sitting in your freezers, and you may have no idea what these tubes even contain. We would suggest that legacy samples should be relabelled at least once in their lifetime and often re-labelling becomes inescapable as samples may need to be updated in accordance with that new record keeping systems that you just had installed. Luckily, modern labels incorporate technology to help circumvent the flaws seen in old paper labels.
If you are a laboratory scientist with a large number of samples stored in freezers, which may be from many different projects and stored in multiple locations, then you will almost certainly have a huge amount of information at your disposal, and more often than not, this kind of data overload can feel overwhelming.
What you need is a system that has been tailored to your very needs, one that can collate all of this information in one easy to use, intuitive, and (perhaps most importantly) safely backed up system. This is where Samples comes in.
One of my first thoughts when I joined Ziath was, how difficult can scanning a 2D barcode really be?
As I soon discovered, it’s much more complicated than you’d probably imagine! Though barcode scanning may seem like an ordinary, mundane task, truth is, our R&D department are constantly coming up with new features to make it as painless as possible for our customers. Poorly printed barcodes, racks holding tubes at varying heights above the scanning window, needing to differentiate between dust particles on the window and a barcode and the ability to cope with harsh overhead lighting are just a few of the challenges that our scanners face. Whilst pondering on this I realised that many of our customers probably don’t know the inner workings of their Ziath 2D barcode scanner, so I thought I’d share a few backend features with you today.
One of the most common problems we come across in 2D barcode reading is what to do when you find that your -80 freezer has put a layer of ice crystals on the bottom of your rack of 2D coded tubes. 2D barcode readers are all optical devices – they need to be able to ‘see’ the barcodes on the bottom of the tubes, otherwise they don’t work! Rather than change your tubes to costly alternatives we can show you how to handle this.
So – you have decided on what tube volume you need, what your labelling requirements are and where you are going to get them from and then you are faced with the question – “Do you want push caps or screw caps?”
Most of our customers find the setup of our scanner simple and easy and don’t need our help to get it working (though if you ever get stuck get in touch please; we’re only an email/phone call/carrier pigeon away!). You should find that our scanners are easy to get up and running but did you know that there are a number of cool options you can use to customise your scanner’s behaviour? I’m going to list out some of the less well known features below:
Every single 2D rack scanner manufacturer will tell you their scanner will never ever fail; including us. However in reality no matter how robust our decoding algoritms (and we put a lot of work into this area) sometimes a rack just won't decode. So; I thought I would list the main reasons we see below:
My baby son recently broke my glasses; turns out that they don't bend backwards! So I went to the opticians and while selecting my glasses the saleswoman (Denise) in the shop asked what I did for a living; I replied that we make specialist barcode scanners used in medical research (easier to explain than biobanking!). She replied 'Why?' and I flippantly replied back 'to pay the mortgage and put food on the table'. So Denise patiently smiled at me and said 'no, why do people need specialise barcode scanners. I apologised and explained about 2D tubes and sample storage and Denise used this information to pick out a pair of glasses which are suitable for work (BTW until the glasses are ready I'm wearing sunglasses at my desk).