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Tips and tricks for Lab Efficiency Volume 2

Another Friday, another host of tips and tricks to get your lab running a little bit more smoothly when things finally return to something resembling normality.

As ever, if you want any clarification or advice on anything else, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

On to the tips.

Phine Banks, Implementation Manager

Plan shifts around your sample prep

Did you know that GERSTEL Maestro software can help with scheduling?

It gives information on timings for sample prep like when each batch of samples will be ready. This can help you plan who needs to be in the lab and at what time. This is especially useful if you’re experimenting with split shifts and social distancing.

Sample prep can continue with minimal presence in the lab allowing others to use the space (not to mention time) to work on other projects. 

Kathy Ridgeway, Senior Applications Chemist

Every Little (bit of Automation) Helps

In my experience ‘automation’ can be a bit of a nebulous term and those who are uninitiated can find it hard to imagine exactly where it fits in their workflow. But even simple automation can have help massively with efficiency.

Something as simple as adding an internal standard solution to your sample is not only quicker if automated, but has been shown to be more accurate and leaves the analyst free to do other tasks.

If you’re not doing so already, consider automating standard prep as well as sample preparation, extraction and injection. Optimise your data analysis method so it runs automatically and only needs a quick check.

Sean O’Connor – Account Manager

Out of the mouths of babes

When problem solving, be sure to include your most junior staff since no one truly learns about a system until things go wrong. The robustness of modern instruments makes this a rare occurrence these days so never waste a training opportunity. 

To be honest, they are the ones who ask the ‘stupid’ question that quite often reveals the answer. Bonus tip: encourage a ‘there are no stupid questions’ culture in your lab.

Dan Carrier – Applications Manager

Lab Book Goes Electric

Around December of last year I started encouraging my team to migrate their lab notebooks to a cloud based, sharable, electronic format. 

Current circumstances have required us to be much more flexible across each other’s projects. Without access to each other’s detailed notes, we would have struggled to keep instrument utilisation so high during the lockdown. Also, if someone is sick you don’t just lose that person for the day, you usually lose someone else for half a day looking to find out exactly what they were doing.

Our notes are accessible to everyone in the business too which helps inter-departmental collaboration and project transparency.

Finally, it saves us a lot of time at the end of projects since we can simply copy and paste our notes into project reports. No more typing up what we’ve already written down once.

We use OneNote but there are plenty of options out there. Please get in touch if you want some advice on getting set up.

More next week.


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