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How LIMS Sample Scheduling Tools Work

Problem: Many service or contract laboratories need to process the same sets of samples on a regularly-scheduled basis. In addition, many processes within factories of various types require collection of samples at pre-set dates and times to ensure the quality of the product being produced. One example is collection of air and surface samples to test the sterility of rooms used in the production of pharmaceuticals, foods, and medical devices. Another example is collection of samples during beer production. The task of logging these samples into a LIMS (laboratory information management system) can be cumbersome and time-consuming and it is easy to miss collection of a scheduled sample. Although these are two entirely different scenarios, both require the same basic scheduling of multiple sample collections. 

by Autoscribe Informatics
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Solution: The Matrix Gemini LIMS from Autoscribe Informatics employs two features to assist in resolving this problem. The first is Bulk Sample Registration and the second is Matrix Scheduler.

Bulk Sample Registration provides a spreadsheet style grid that allows the designer of the LIMS to designate certain columns to collect specific information. For example, one column may be the room, the second column the area within a room, the next the set of tests to be performed, etc. After the grid is designed and put into use, the end users of the system enter static information into the grid either directly or by copying and pasting from a spreadsheet and save this as a template for future use. A fill down feature allows fast data entry without the need to enter the same data multiple times and a test or group of tests can be easily added to a particular sample row as many times as needed. Templates are particularly useful for contract laboratories that have regular repeat batches of samples for analysis, whether from single or multiple disciplines. However, the grid does not have to be used as a template. In the situation of beer production, for example, the scheduled collection of samples may vary depending on the type of beer being produced. So in that scenario, a user enters all of the information about the samples being collected and also enters specific scheduled collection dates. The user then registers all of the scheduled samples into the LIMS for future collection.

Alternatively, in the situation where templates of data are recorded, the Matrix Scheduler tool may be used in conjunction with the Bulk Sample Registration templates to automate login of samples. Scheduler allows the scheduling of tasks based on specific dates or dates built from the classifiers of years, months, weeks, and days together with times. One example might be: ’14:30 on the third Thursday of January, March, and September’. The module also allows non-working dates (i.e weekends and public holidays) to be programmed in with the option to include or exclude tasks that would be scheduled to occur during these periods. Matrix Scheduler runs as a “service” so that even if a user logs off their PC, the schedule is still executed. Scheduler is fully audit-trailed, allowing all changes made to a schedule to be seen and reviewed.

In addition to scheduling registration of samples, Matrix Scheduler can also schedule the creation of reports. This too is very useful in automation of laboratory functions. For example, every morning, each person in the lab may have an “incomplete samples” list automatically emailed to them directly before they begin their work day. Or perhaps a plant manager could receive a list of failing results as a PDF on their desktop at 1:00 AM Monday through Friday.

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