When it comes to boosting the productivity of your facility there are a number of things you can do. As a labeling solutions provider, we’ll focus on a few ways you can ramp-up sample processing through label application, and the benefits and drawbacks of each solution.
More often than not, when discussing improved labeling strategies with our customers they ask about automation—and for good reason!
Automated labeling equipment allows laboratories and sample processing facilities the opportunity to greatly reduce the amount of time and effort put into one of the most tedious preparatory tasks—labeling. This frees the hands of employees to either focus on more valuable tasks, or increase sample throughput. Consistency in placement and time sensitive data accommodation also add value to automated label application.
The main drawback when it comes to automation, is that it can’t help you ramp up your production until it arrives… the entire process from inquiry to installation can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Your equipment and its parts might be arriving from overseas, engineering may be required to compliment your practices and customized equipment may need to be built. All of these factors ensure that the equipment functions in a way that aligns with your processes, but also tends to add to what could be an already tight timeline.
Under most circumstances it’s worth the wait, but in situations when you’re facing a sudden increase in production expectations, especially one that may be temporary, automation may not allow you to act fast enough. So, what can you do to speed up production without automation—or while you wait for your automated equipment to arrive?
Another labeling method that allows you to increase your production speed and volume is outsourcing.
Label outsourcing is essentially an enhanced form of pre-barcoded labware procurement with increased adaptability to your needs. The goal when it comes to outsourcing is to provide labware that’s already barcoded or labeled, ready to use, right out of the box.
Your outsourcing partner will work with you to source your labware, find a suitable labeling option that meets your application and budget requirements and discuss any additional needs they may be able to address with their services.
At Computype we offer a label outsourcing service called READY Labware Services. We partner with major labware suppliers to supply customers with the labware they’re already using with our barcodes applied. Alongside our standard offerings, this program also allows us to share enhanced marking technologies with our customers, such as direct mark and ceramic labels. Additionally we offer tare weighing, sorting and kitting services to reduce preparation on your end.
The standout benefit of an outsourcing program is the flexibility. Your pre-labeled labware program can be adapted to meet your timelines, throughput volumes, lab exposures, preparation and budgetary needs with little exception.
So what is the exception? Label application outsourcing doesn’t accommodate time sensitive information. Since you need to provide the necessary label information at the time of ordering, information that isn’t available until the time of processing can’t be accommodated without the addition of another label.
When transitioning to a new label application method, there are a few things that need to be taken into consideration to ensure optimal performance. Really, most of these tips can be applied to any part of the lab where you’re making a transition—so give them a glance regardless of your labeling plans!
Work with a single supplier
Look for a supplier who can provide you with as much of the solution as possible—equipment, installation, consumables, service etc… This does three things:
- The compatibility between all components within your system is insured.
- Communication is simplified during the ordering and servicing processes.
- Typically, a single supplier can ultimately get you a working solution quicker than if you were to source bits and pieces from multiple places
Focus on price, but don’t compromise on value
Price is always important, but so is value! The goal in pricing is to reflect the value of an item, however there are so many outside factors that make a solution valuable in one lab, and impractical in another.
While it might be tempting to go with the least expensive option, it may not be suited to your needs for the long run. Consider your application and take advantage of valuable offerings that could bring monetary returns both now and in the future.
Make sure you’re getting a solution that is both fast and smart
Continuing on our last point, speed isn’t always the most accurate indicator of value either! Increased speed can of course bring increased throughput, but only if your overall system can keep up. Additionally, high speed printing can reduce print quality. Normally, this isn’t a huge deal, but when very small barcodes are being utilized you risk losing scannability.
More than anything, think about how the solution will fit into your current processes before you invest.
Work with a trusted supplier who knows the healthcare industry
Healthcare is an important industry, where safety and accuracy are key—your supplier needs to understand that. It’s also likely they’ll need some certifications to ensure the safety and validity of their product.
Having a supplier that understands the urgency of your work and is familiar with the exposures their product will face during processing ensures you’ll receive a product that is tried and true.
Accommodating higher demand can be tricky, especially when the rise is unexpected and the sense of urgency is heightened—but you have options. Both automation and outsourcing are great options that offer value in both similar, and different areas, which is why you should always assess your situation before you buy. It’s also important to take into consideration any additional ways you can further optimize your solution.