A quickly growing and sensible trend in lab automation devices is the consolidation of containers, polymers, buffers and/or reagents into single closed loop packages. This trend makes sense as it can significantly reduce lab overhead by decreasing the overall time required to prepare a sample run. This not only leads to faster test results, but reduces the amount of labour required per test since there is less setup time involved.
One of the big implications is that it becomes much more of a requirement than ever before to make the self-contained package “smart” or connected. One reason is that the entire package itself now has an expiration date that is the lowest expiration parameter of its contents, and is generally good for a specified number of tests.
Beyond the ability to verify and log information through an on-board smart label, giving the end users the ability to monitor their consumables through their smartphone is a great way to ensure that they have easy access to the information they need. This technology can not only be used to monitor these consumables, but also for ease of reordering.
Here is how the reorder function, which can tie together tag data with smartphone functionality, can work. The amount of approved uses and expiration date can be stored on the label, which allows the user to know if a reorder is necessary. As the product is used, the number of times it’s used is logged.
Then, by using an app on the end user’s smartphone, this data can be imported, as can the product number of the consumable, which allows the user to see how many times the consumable has been used and the days of life remaining. The end user can click a reorder button which would be able to call a web service and initiate a consumable reorder.
The internet of things truly opens the architecture of what can be done. This is an adroit example of how RFID can be coupled with an app to increase ease of consumable monitoring.