Do you know what’s in your laboratory sample freezers and storage without opening them? If you dread the questions “Now, where did we put that sample?” or “What do you think is in that container?”, then you probably need a sample inventory management system.
You may be feeling a little smug at this point thinking “we have a sample management system and that tells us where our samples are”. And that’s great. But there is more to sample inventory management systems that just displaying a pretty view of the samples stored in your freezers.
Samples aren’t just stored in freezers
Your biospecimens can be stored in all sorts of places, not just freezers. But what about your cupboard with your histology slides, fridges, drawers and good old-fashioned boxes?
You need to be able to define storage information around these sometimes unstructured and varied repositories. Sample management systems with pre-defined storage layouts can be useful but sometimes there isn’t a template for what you need. Sample inventory management software that allows you to create your own unlimited-levels storage definitions, such as Achiever Medical, gives you ultimate flexibility.
Plus, additional functionality that enables you to reserve storage slots for samples you are expecting helps you manage your storage capacity.
Displaying your sample inventory in a graphical format
If you can see your sample inventory in a graphical format it makes it easier when you are processing and working with your biospecimens as you can check a sample’s position visually.
However, there are other ways of viewing your sample inventory from a completely different perspective. If your sample inventory is spread across several locations – including at external biorepositories – it can be easier to see this information on a map. This can be especially useful if you are a virtual Biobank where you don’t store any samples onsite but provide a centralised, searchable inventory to source samples. Plus, you can see where space is available for any relocations.
Quality control measures to ensure the validity of your samples
The quality of your samples will affect the validity of your research. It also affects the potential monetary value of your samples. If you follow ISBER best-practice: Recommendations for Repositories, quality control around how you store your samples is important to you.
Sample inventory management systems that allow you to set and monitor temperature thresholds for each storage repository give you additional quality control measures. Plus, sample inventory management software, like Achiever Medical, uses automated email alerts to notify the relevant personnel if the imported storage temperature data is outside the threshold limits.
Advanced sample inventory management software also allows you to carry out your own internal, random audits. You can use this functionality to check your samples are where they should be. Plus, you can record any issues as well as any corrective and preventative actions.
A final note on sample validity covers how long your samples have been sitting in storage. Sample inventory management systems that audit when you check samples in – and out – of storage give you a clear indication of storage duration. Plus, some systems can increment the sample thaw count for your frozen biospecimens. All of this gives you more insight into the potential viability of your samples.
The benefits of sample inventory management software
Sample inventory management systems give you much more than where you are currently storing your sample. They offer you valuable insight into:
- Storage capacity to help you plan and manage your resources
- Sample quality to enable you to define quality control and assurance measures to maintain your samples’ value
- Sample viability to help with sample selection and give you more confidence in your research results.
Giving you a nice view of your sample inventory is just the beginning!
- ISBER Best-Practice: Recommendations for Repositories – https://www.isber.org/page/BPR