3 Reasons to Stop Hand Labeling Your Chromatography Vials

Most labs practicing chromatography know how vital accurate sample identification and tracking can be. However, we only recently started seeing barcodes used for this purpose. As you may know, writing labels by hand is a time-consuming and frustrating process—especially when you’re dealing with such small vials.

Not to mention, manual labeling carries a significant risk of error or misidentification. Whether you need to improve sample tracking for operational efficiency and quality reasons or to meet regulatory requirements, adding barcodes to your chromatography vials can improve accuracy and consistency while simplifying the identification process.

Here we’ll cover three reasons you should stop identifying vials by hand and what we recommend you try instead.

1. Refocus your laboratory to spend more time and resources on critical testing processes.

While a print and apply barcode strategy is more efficient than handwritten identification, the process still takes valuable time away from science.

You can increase productivity and efficiency by allowing your skilled staff to focus on research and analysis goals. 

2. Secure the integrity of your samples with barcode identification.

It’s likely reliable sample tracking is one of the main reasons you’re considering upgrading to a barcode identification system—if not the sole reason.

Compared to handwritten markings, a barcode system certainly has a lower margin for error—eliminating legibility factors and reducing opportunities for human error.

A proper sequence management system will further reduce the opportunity for error by seeking out duplicate and otherwise unusable barcodes post-printing. Systems like these can be a hassle to manage in-house, but any trustworthy supplier of pre-printed barcodes should have some system in place to ensure the quality of the barcodes you receive.

3. Enhance compatibility between your vials and automated processes.

As automation grows more commonplace in science-related industries, so do computer-readable identifiers like barcodes. While most legacy autosamplers won’t have integrated scanners, newer models are beginning to feature them, and it’s always a good idea to stay ahead of the curve.

Unfortunately, a poorly placed barcode can lead to process interruptions. When you apply your barcodes and labels with automated equipment, you can count on the placement to be precise and consistent, enhancing your vial’s ability to communicate with automatic testing equipment.

Automatic label application is more accessible today than ever before. Compare the Axon 1 and the Axon 2 cab applicators below to gain a better understanding of what opportunities are available for your lab. 

Explore pre-barcoded labware opportunities for your chromatography vials. 

One of the most efficient ways to introduce barcodes to your chromatography process is to source pre-barcoded labware from a manufacturer or a labware services provider. 

While not every labware or label supplier will label your labware for you, some can offer pre-barcoded catalog options or outsourcing services. Labware manufacturers’ pre-marked catalog options for chromatography applications are often minimal, so you’ll have better luck finding a labware services provider for the time being.

Placing your vial labeling in the hands of labware labeling experts also offers additional perks, such as higher quality print options and precise automated applications that you can’t achieve in-house.

Your labware services partner should make an effort to understand your processes, needs, challenges, and goals to tailor a solution specifically for your facility. Choosing a partner with experience in your industry will make this process smoother. So, if you’re a pharmaceutical production facility, you’ll want to seek help from a partner familiar with the exposures your labels may face.

Once they understand your processes and have your specifications, they’ll procure your materials—if your partner is a label supplier like us, they’ll procure your chromatography vials from your preferred manufacturer.

With all the components in place, our team will apply your barcodes (and other markings if requested) to your vials to your specifications using advanced marking technologies to suit your needs and environment.

We offer three marking technology options, including all of our pressure-sensitive labels, direct mark technology, and ceramic ID. You can also request additional services to enhance your labware before shipping, such as sequence management, tare weighing, sequential ordering, and kit preparation. 

Barcodes are being introduced to the chromatography process to improve the tracking and tracing of samples. While printed barcodes are much simpler to prepare than handwritten markings, we want you to be aware that eliminating label applications from your facility is an option that can boost efficiencies even further.

In addition to reduced effort on your part, your partner will likely be able to ensure you receive barcodes with high enough resolution to be scanned consistently despite their small size. Improved durability and precision placement can further enhance your chromatography vials’ ability to withstand harsh exposures and interact with automated equipment.

If you’re considering barcodes for your 12×32 autosampler vials or even larger headspace vials, take a moment to evaluate whether outsourcing services offer benefits that align with your needs, challenges, and goals. If you have questions about our offeringsgive us a call or give this blog post a quick read.

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