Capillary Electrophoresis is a method of separating molecules that is widely used in DNA and PCR reaction testing. The nature of this testing method requires a variety of consumable products that must be used under strict manufacturer specifications. When manufacturer specifications aren’t followed, test results can suffer from loss of resolution (LOR) and in extreme cases may become indecipherable.
No technician intentionally goes against protocol, but when the status of consumables isn’t being closely monitored, room for error increases. A variety of parameters need to be tracked on each consumable, complicating the process. One way to simplify consumable tracking is by utilizing an RFID capable labeling strategy. Here we’ll discuss in more detail how RFID can help to enforce expiration dates, prevent excessive on-device exposure and control sample or injection use to reduce loss of resolution in samples.
Expiration date enforcement
It’s almost impossible to tell if a cartridge, array or testing agent has been kept in storage for longer than it should’ve been, and using expired product almost guarantees resolution loss. By implementing a plan that combines RFID labels and device software, expiration dates can be easily tracked and enforced to prevent low resolution test results.
Ideally, the RFID enabled label would be applied to the cartridge or pack at the time of manufacturing for complete accuracy, but RFID labels can be applied in your facility and encoded upon receiving shipment to provide increased accuracy to your current processes.
Once the label has been applied and an expiration date encoded the software can be utilized to enforce the expiration date. The device software can be programmed to allow you to scan the consumable prior to use and alert the test operator if the run date is beyond the expiration date.
Preventing excessive on-device exposure
Consumables don’t always live up to their expiration dates or maximum usage expectations in the real world due to a variety of factors, one being if they are left on the testing device too long. Both the quality and fill quantity degrade as buffers and containers sit on the machine, mainly due to evaporation. This degradation leads to LOR, and even worse, damage to the machine itself. Because of this, it’s important to ensure cartridges don’t spend more time in the machine than necessary.
RFID can help prevent LOR and machine damage by recording the date and time of insertion and exit of materials. By using these data points operators can infer how much time the cartridge has spent in the machine, and if longer than appropriate the tag can be “killed” and the cartridge disposed of to prevent further use that could lead to poor test results or device damage.
Sample or injection incrementing
Another example of how RFID can be leveraged to prevent loss is by incrementing the number of samples or injections for which a cartridge has been used.
RFID can be leveraged to prevent LOR by tracking the number of samples or injections for which a cartridge has been used. To do this, an incrementing variable of +1 can be overwritten upon reading each time a cartridge is used. Once the number of approved uses for the cartridge has been reached it can be disabled, preventing further use.
In cases where cartridges are able to be refilled and reused, the tag can be reset with your device (that could be computer, tablet or even a smartphone!), similar to how an oil life counter on a car is reset after an oil change.
By closely tracking your consumable use you can prevent sample loss to LOR and machine damage. By introducing RFID to your capillary electrophoresis practices you can track expiration dates, on-device exposure and sample/injection use quickly and easily. If you’re looking to prevent loss of resolution in your lab it might be time to look for an RFID implementation partner to help you find the right RFID solution for your lab. If you have any questions about what Computype has to offer when it comes to RFID in the lab, please contact us.