Smart Solution to Sample Storage in Immunology

Immunology laboratories are faced with the perpetual problem of managing large numbers of stored sample tubes. Automating both capping and archiving  with purpose-built robotic workstations like Aim Lab’s PathFinder 350A Archiver makes the job that much easier. New to the range, a PathFinder 350A has helped Sonic Healthcare’s Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology by automatically sorting, capping and archiving samples processed by their  Immunology/Serology department.

An ever-increasing demand for storage space – and a freezer system fast running out of capacity – was one of the main reasons that Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology installed a PathFinder 350A Archiver. As a busy lab, they were looking for a better way to manage their samples post testing. Previously, every serum tube completed in the lab needed to be physically capped by a lab assistant. Then, each capped tube was manually scanned and transferred to a specific well in a cardboard storage box. With some 2000 tubes processed per day, the overall process was very labour-intensive.

Now, staff time has been cut substantially as these manual tasks have been automated with a PathFinder 350A. The instrument automatically caps and archives all the serum tubes the lab processes each day into high-density plastic storage racks.

Reduced RSI Risk The manual capping of sample tubes denoted a high risk for repetitive strain injury in the laboratory. As the PathFinder 350A automatically caps each sample tube with a foil seal, this risk is now extremely low. Another benefit is that the cost of caps has been reduced by  approximately 75%.

Storage Freed Up

Rather than store all samples for up to 12 months, the PathFinder 350A has the ability to sort samples to different storage locations. Antenatal samples are sent to a long term storage rack while non-antenatal samples are sent to a short term storage rack. Based on the LIS response, the instrument automatically determines where each sample tube needs to be sent.

This ability to segregate storage samples into short and long-term storage frees up much storage capacity. Even allowing for annual growth in the number of samples processed, Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology project they will now not need to upgrade their existing cold room and shelving systems until at least 2020!

Improved Efficiency

The PathFinder 350A checks with the LIS that all outstanding tests have been completed, before sending a sample to a storage rack. For tubes that are sent to storage, the number of tubes stored per patient is limited, further reducing wasted space on unnecessary storage of excess tubes.

As well as freeing up a lab assistant’s time for other duties, Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology found that: “the continuous specimen throughput has meant that the storage location of the specimens is known sooner, for easier location and improved efficiency.” “Overall, we have found the PathFinder 350A to be a compact, reliable instrument that can certainly handle the workload,” says Peter Hobson, the Immunology/Serology Manager at Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology.