Say you’re a lab operator and you discover that one of your products has fallen out of specifications. What does this mean? The short answer – that you would need to retest the sample and confirm the result. But this short answer doesn’t reflect your experience fully. The more accurate answer would speak of double work, the extra time you needed to take out of your schedule to perform the retest, and maybe even stress to meet deadlines. When using Excel or paper, you can add the burden of manual work, rechecking data scattered across two or more results which makes analysis and reporting error-prone.
If you recognize the scenario above, you should know that there’s a more efficient, painless way. This article highlights the advantages of using laboratory quality control software when performing a lab retest.
LIMS for manufacturing: a quick introduction
A Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) helps manufacturing companies by automating the entire process between sampling and reporting. This includes tracking samples, managing data, assigning tasks, non-conformity analysis, reporting, trend analysis, and passing test results to other systems, like for instance an ERP.
Whether you’re testing or retesting a sample, you can forget about the burden of manual work or clicking through Excel sheets to dig up information. A LIMS that’s optimized for manufacturing will pull up real-time data, increasing efficiency and putting you in a position of full control.
What does control look like in a lab retest?
Using a LIMS, lab technicians performing a retest do not have to start from scratch. From the initial test results, they can trigger follow-up actions with workflows. In AlisQI, this creates a new result copying all the values that were in spec and leaving the ones that didn’t meet specifications blank. This speeds up things since you need to focus only on the missing values.
LIMS advantages in a retest
Sure, not every lab technician is time-starved, and sometimes doing a retest may not feel that time-consuming. Well, time is not the only thing that you’ll be saving using a LIMS. Also think about these benefits:
- Reducing the risk of mistakes – We all make mistakes, and these happen even more often when working in a hurry. With automation, however, many of these (costly) mistakes can be prevented. Think about it, why compare measurements with specifications on separate sheets manually when you could use a system that’s fast and error-proof?
- You’re not starting over – Creating a workflow that triggers the retest procedure, you’re also transferring the values that were in-spec and focus on the off-spec ones. This ‘fill in the blanks’ method simplifies things and is a more reliable solution to engage with your data.
- Streamlined communication and processes – setting up workflows that enable you to automatically inform your organization and trigger follow-up actions means a lot in terms of efficiency and helps you to not overlook anything.
- A paperless laboratory – if your lab retest involves taking the measurement and writing it down on paper, using a LIMS eliminates this need. Sure, you may argue that retests don’t occur often and ask yourself why change if they happen once in a blue moon? To answer this question, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Going digital is much more user-friendly, sustainable, and cheap.
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