Castrol, part of BP, is a global leader in the development and manufacture of oils and lubricants used in automobiles, motor cycles, trucks, lorries, buses and agricultural machinery, the marine industry, industrial equipment and more. The Lubricant Technology Centre at Pangbourne, Berks, UK features laboratories capable of investigating all aspects of the technical life cycle, from research and development in fuels and lubricants, to support and quality assurance, fluid analysis and performance testing.
The analytical laboratory at Pangbourne provides a comprehensive test facility for the lubricant development and product teams, offering a wide range of techniques from physical testing such as viscosity, density and flash point to analytical testing such as ICP, XRF. IR and GC. Tests provide information on product performance and composition. Around 140 test types are available within the laboratory and some 80.000 tests are conducted each year on around 40,000 samples, although some samples may have multiple tests and others only one. Some of the test types are long term tests such as accelerated lifetime tests. This means that there are often a number of sub-samples involved and these must be correctly tracked back to the original sample. The objective was to have a paperless system offering increased speed, efficiency and traceability. The system also needed to be easily overviewed and audited to ISO/TS16949 and to provide management statistics.
The LIMS used at Pangbourne is based on Matrix Plus, part of the continuously evolving Matrix range of LIMS products. The system has been regularly upgraded since the first Matrix system was installed in 1990, so the laboratory has more than 20 years experience of Matrix products. Matrix Plus is a function-rich LIMS that features extremely powerful, easy to use configuration tools that allow the system to be tailored to the required workflow and testing methods. The system can be accessed by the development and product scientists as part of their own project software, as well as by the laboratory personnel. This seamless approach allows around 150 people access to test requests without necessarily realizing they are making use of the LIMS. The implementation of the Matrix LIMS
- Allows individuals to request specific tests from their own computers
- Allows full auditing of data to meet compliance with ISO/TS16949 for OEMs in the automotive supply chain
- Provides configuration tools to allow small changes to screens and reports to be made internally
- Allows results to be delivered directly to individual's computers
Nine of the laboratory's analytical instruments are interfaced directly into the LIMS. Results from other tests are entered manually. Matrix provides a full 'chain of custody' tracking capability for samples that are subdivided for different types of tests over different periods of time.
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