Well-organized biological sample management and storage is fundamental for any scientific study, but is especially imperative in clinical studies; where hundreds to thousands of sensitive and vulnerable biological samples need to be stored and transported in a secure, highly-controlled environment.
If samples are compromised prior to analysis, the results can be affected leading to delays and money lost. Keeping on top of sample storage and management can be a chore – and requires a dedicated team and clear protocols.
While sample storage can be a challenge, there are a number of simple ways to streamline the process, and with the emergence of smart sample storage technologies, the days of disorganized and chaotic sample management are numbered.
Learn more about the best practices for sample storage and management, and find out how a digital inventory platform with integrated monitoring could help to improve sample integrity, efficiency, security, and safety.
There are a myriad of matters that can go wrong when storing your biological samples, and those working in a lab will have likely encountered some of these at one time or another. Some of the most common issues are set out below:
Traditionally, scientists have relied on paper inventories to track and manage samples. But, with paper comes several caveats that can have a severe impact on lab productivity and safety, not to mention the environment.
Data privacy and security
Paper inventories are easily lost, manipulated, or damaged in the lab meaning precious and costly samples can go awry. Using a digital inventory solution allows data to be encrypted and safely stored in drives.
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to the management of sample storage is the inability to edit original documents. This means that you need to create new copies each time, increasing the risk of error and time taken to search through documents. Digitalizing the editing process ensures that one copy is centralized and accessed only by those who have permission to do so.
Collaboration and connectivity
Paper systems are not conducive to collaboration as there is often a disconnect between each user’s system for recording inventories. Often paper-based systems exist as silos and it may be the case that only one or a small group of users know where an inventory is stored at any one time.
We live in an environmentally conscious age, and as scientists, we have a responsibility to make steps towards becoming more carbon neutral. With traditional paper-based sample inventory systems, drug development and research organizations can get through surprisingly large amounts of paper, which is useful only during the duration of its related study.
While paper may seem like an inexpensive option for inventory management, when you take into account the amount of paper and stationary items required to log samples over time, the cost quickly accumulates.
An easy way to protect your study data, while reaching towards a smaller carbon footprint is to consider paperless, digitized alternatives such as a smart sample inventory platform.
To learn more about how to digitize your sample journey with eLabNext® , check out our webinar.
When investing in a digital inventory solution for sample management, it’s crucial to have the ability to link data sets to specific samples. The ideal platform can easily integrate with an electronic lab notebook (ELN) and other systems, so you can keep track of samples and streamline lab workflows. In addition to the inventory and ELN, a system that is able to link equipment parameters to samples is highly desirable for scientists as it allows them to see the full picture – from beginning to end – for a unified workflow.
As new technologies emerge, digitized sample storage and management solutions are becoming more powerful than ever, and there are a number of innovative ways in which new technology is being harnessed to aid lab organization.
From sample storage, identification and documentation, to advanced security and tracking, digital inventory platforms can help to streamline the entire sample management process. At Eppendorf, we facilitate this via our eLabInventory sample management software platform and our all-in-one eLabJournal electronic lab notebook.
The eLabInventory® sample management software combines inventory, sample management and tracking in a fully integrated, customizable platform. The software allows you to visualize your entire database, enabling you to browse through and rapidly locate samples/specimens from your lab and storage systems. Not only does this help locate the fridge/freezer/cold room in which a sample is located, but also the exact drawer/shelf/box it’s stored in.
With our smart sample management software, you can automate your sample storage and management workflow with barcode automation. By scanning the barcode on the prelabelled sample tubes, tracking data is sent to the centralized system providing updates at the point of storage, distribution and testing. Barcode scanning can be done through a mobile app for easier accessibility. Sample and reagent spoilage can be eliminated and stock kept up to date by setting automatic alerts for when chemicals, consumables and reagents run low in stock or nearing expiry date.
The Eppendorf SafeCode system, works in concert with eLabInventory to improve sample labeling by providing prelabelled, barcoded cryo-vessels, with 3-level coding in multiple formats to safeguard your samples and improve efficiency.
Data protection and security is a priority for all studies, and with eLabInventory you can keep your data secure with an automatically recorded event log designed for compatibility with GLP/GMP guidelines, as well as user roles and permissions that can be easily customized for every lab staff member.
The other side of our sample management platform, the eLabJournal® electronic lab notebook, helps to efficiently centralize and document research projects. Here you can store all of your data and files, and it also includes systems for sample tracking and protocol management.
eLabJournal® allows for a smooth transition towards a paperless set-up, enabling a compete study to be planned and documented in detail, in a fraction of the time. With this smart lab notebook, all staff members involved have access to key files, data and sample information at their fingertips.
Not only does a smart platform like eLabJournal® improve efficiency in planning and study set-up, but it also enables scientists to record data directly from lab equipment. This improves the quality and reproducibility of experiments by minimizing human error and variability. Large quantities of samples can be tracked and monitored with bulk sample actions.
You can extend the functionality of eLabJournal® by installing add-on tools and integrations from eLab Marketplace . For a smooth transition to integrating eLab to your operations, utilize the SDK (Software Development Kit) and API (Application Programming Interface), where you can access tools and information to help you develop your own add-ons.
While sample management can be improved with a digital inventory platform, the ideal solution would enable users to concurrently monitor storage parameters such as temperature from your freezers.
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Traditionally, sample management and storage has been prone to challenges, and when it goes wrong things can quickly become unstuck. Emerging technologies are enabling the digitalization of the entire process, leading to vastly improved efficiency and fewer issues with organization and spoilage. Digitalizing your sample management workflow can be an easy transition if you seek advice from a trusted partner such as Eppendorf.
Why not check out the eLabNext solutions today?
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