Geest invests in lab and LIMS for greater testing capacity

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Laboratory software is making microbiological sampling data easy to collate and integrate

With capacity for testing at Geest's laboratory in Spalding close to being reached, the food manufacturer decided to re-equip a laboratory on its new Holbeach site, and implement a laboratory information management system (LIMS).

The LIMS system needed to be rolled out to other Geest sites and the aim was for it to go live at the same time as the new laboratory was ready.

LabWare was contracted for the job on the basis that it could meet Geest's requirements of fast implementation, and that it would configure the LIMS with only 15 LabWare consultancy days.

A full-time LIMS administrator was appointed by LabWare to understand Geest's work needs and in the end only 10 consultancy days were used, spread over a four-month period.

The system was developed to match exactly the workings of the laboratory.

A bar code solution was implemented, whereby the manufacturing site logs into LIMS and uses a scanner to read the product EAN, or a code from a pre-printed list, for swabs and other samples.

Ad-hoc samples can also be submitted. This process logs the sample on the system and generates a unique sample identifier, which is printed locally and applied to the sample.

When samples arrive at the Holbeach lab, they are identified from their bar code.

A further set of labels is automatically generated for all required tests plates and the samples are stored ready for further preparation. The labels are applied to petri dishes and other test containers prior to incubation.

After incubation, the plate bar code is scanned, and the system brings up the appropriate results entry screen where the operator keys in the colony count and other information.

As results for a given sample are entered, any calculations are automatically completed and, if within specification, the test is approved automatically.

Out of specification results are held for manual review by authorised staff. Any presumptive, confirmation tests can be added automatically and new sample bar code labels printed off for the relevant petri dishes.

Once all work is completed for a sample, reports can be generated using a variety of tools. There are also several ways of reviewing sample progress and results in real time.

The system is being rolled out this year to many other Geest factories. The main group laboratory at Spalding, where the analytical laboratory is located, will also be integrated into the system.

Contact: LabWare, Tel: 08700 115585

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