Autoscribe Informatics

Autoscribe Informatics

Neptune - LIMS for all water testing laboratories


Source: Autoscribe Informatics

Neptune - LIMS -The Modern Solution for all Water Testing Laboratories Laboratories that support water treatment plants have long discovered the benefits of Laboratory Information Management Systems - LIMS. Today many laboratories are looking to replace their earlier systems with ones that are easier to support, more friendly to use and that can be connected easily with other plant computer systems. These laboratories as well as new facilities being commissioned can benefit the most by installing a new configuration of the very successful Matrix Gemini LIMS product, called ‘Neptune’.

This new configuration has been developed with inputs from several large metropolitan water districts and contains the deep functionality and reports needed for this application. Until now, most LIMS targeted at this application were either custom written and therefore expensive to support and hard to upgrade, or were commercial systems that delivered some of the required functionality, but were very rigid and difficult to change. ‘Neptune’ is built using the extremely powerful and easy to use configuration tools that are part of Matrix Gemini LIMS from Autoscribe Ltd.

There is no custom code to support and there are no special scripts to write. Neptune delivers most of the functionality required by a water treatment laboratory out of the box. However, as each laboratory has some different requirements, these are satisfied by changes to the configuration files rather than custom code. Every Matrix system and hence, each Neptune system has the same source code, all differences in appearance, terminology, workflow, tests and reports are contained in the configuration files. ‘Neptune’ LIMS systems are fast to implement, less expensive to support and easy to upgrade.

Laboratory Workflow Although individual water testing laboratories may vary slightly one from another, the power of the Autoscribe configuration tools enables all user requirements to be easily met. Samples are logged, collected from each location, received into the laboratory and tested along with the appropriate QC samples. All these activities are executed with a detailed “Chain of Custody” (CoC). The test results are validated and the samples approved for reporting outside the laboratory, usually by the laboratory manager. Support for Bar Codes Neptune provides for the use of bar code labels for tracking samples from sampling to testing. On login labels may be printed for each container and issued to the person who is doing the sampling.

Once attached to the containers, bar code labels provide a very convenient way to record the CoC events as well as sample receipt. They may also be used to bring up the appropriate record for result entry. Autoscribe is pleased to advice on the font and type of label, as well as the printer and reader for all Neptune implementations.

Sample Log-in In most water testing laboratories the majority of the samples are gathered according to a schedule. These routine samples may be “grab” or “composite” but they are collected each day, week or month. (Grab sampling is when all the test material is collected at one point. Composite sampling is when individual samples are collected, in a common container at regular intervals over a period of time). Neptune provides for the login of such samples via the use of sample templates that specify what samples are required, which tests are needed and what the limits should be for each analyte.

Sample templates are simple to create and fast to use greatly reducing the task of sample login. Part of the sample workload in most laboratories is non-routine samples submitted because of a specific incident or required by a third party. Neptune provides for registration of these samples via a configurable sample login screen, where the necessary information concerning the sample can be entered. This includes, but is not limited to, submitter information, sampling information, the container description, what preservative is used and if it is “rush” or standard turnaround time.

Sometimes samples may be tested during field sampling (and data sent back via a wireless PDA to the central LIMS system) or indeed at sample registration time. Neptune has been configured to accept, at sample registration time, other relevant information such as the actual collection date / time and some test results that may have been taken at the time of sampling- dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, C12 residue, permit and discharge.

Other tests / parameters can easily be configured to suit individual site requirements. Such samples may also be discarded during this sample registration process and so the registration screen permits the entry of these initial results plus discarding of the sample at registration.

Several secure notes fields can be included at sample login to contain specific textual handling, sampling and testing instructions, who made the change and when it was carried out. Standard Matrix LIMS auditing and version control features combined with the power of electronic signoff / signature make the system totally secure and traceable. Neptune supports the concept of “parent / child” samples and sub-samples if multiple sample containers of different types are used to hold one logical sample. Each container may have its own Chain of Custody (CoC). Sample Collection Once a sample is logged, then it may be assigned to a specific individual to collect and begin the chain of custody.

The exact sampling point is contained within Neptune, including the GPS coordinates and list of samples to be collected on a specific date and time may be generated for each person going out to collect the samples. This list can contain any specific instructions about how the sample is to be taken and transported. Sample Receipt Once the samples arrive in the laboratory other relevant information may be entered such as the actual collection date / time and some test results that may have been taken at the time of sampling- pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, residual chlorine. Comments or notes taken on sampling conditions can also be entered. When all the relevant information has been entered, the sample is marked as “received” and the status in the system changes from “registered” to “received”.

Neptune automatically records this status change along with the time, date and who carried out the action. Extensive facilities exist within Neptune for the sample to be split, if required, multiple times to exhaustion and each of the child samples to be individual tracked, audited, tested, reported on and chain of custody to be maintained. Chain of Custody Regulations require that a “Chain of Custody” (CoC) be maintained for each sample container from when the container is assigned to when the sample is received into the laboratory. Some laboratories continue with the CoC while the sample is being processed in the laboratory and after analysis is complete until it leaves storage and is discarded.

Neptune provides for entry of who has each sample at a specific time and where it is located. This is done by entering a CoC “event” into the sample record. The CoC report for each sample can be generated on request. Testing and QA Neptune provides several ways for entering test results.

In water testing laboratories many of the tests are run in analytical batches on automated instruments such as gas chromatographs, ion chromatographs, ICP’s, etc. For such tests, Neptune provides for all the samples requiring a specific test to be retrieved from the database and inserted into a “Runsheet” (a worklist) along with the required blanks, duplicates and spikes. This Runsheet may be manipulated such that the unknown samples and QC samples are in the correct positions according to your method and will correspond to how the physical samples are loaded into the instrument tray.

This Runsheet is then downloaded to the instrument interface module where it is matched with the sample numbers and test results that are sent from the instrument. The appropriate QC calculations are carried out such as “% Recovery” and STD on duplicates and if they pass, the entire set of results is uploaded into the LIMS. Instruments such as balances used for ‘% solids’ tests and pH meters may be connected to Neptune using an RS 232C port on a network hub or the COM port of a computer.

Using intuitive input screens that operate similarly to familiar spreadsheets, raw values may be manually entered into the LIMS database, Calculations can be automatically carried out to determine final results and if the value is within specific preset limits. Neptune provides for several types of limits and actions when a limit is violated, including providing a configurable warning message or triggering an email to be sent via your email system. Reagent tracking Neptune provides for reagents and chemicals to be stored with specific test methods along with the quantity used for each sample.

The vendor, part number, lot number, expiry date and more, may be stored with each lot of reagent. Then when a test is scheduled for a specific set of samples, the lot number of reagents and chemicals used, and associated details become part of the sample/test record. This greatly assists in trouble shooting on a batch of sample (Runsheet) if questions are raised by the QC data. Validation and Approval As mentioned previously, test results for a batch are usually validated by comparison to the appropriate QC results.

Neptune can be set up to allow the analyst to validate test results which they have entered or require that a second analyst or supervisor validate the results. On review, any changes or comments that have been entered on a sample or a test result can be investigated. Results are presented in the familiar Matrix or spreadsheet format. Any out of range results or changed results are clearly flagged by changing the color of the cells in the grid. After all the test results have been entered and validated for a sample, the complete sample is approved by the laboratory manager or supervisor, according to your procedures and final reports can be printed or published via the web. Reporting All Matrix products use “best of breed”, easy to support report writers rather than proprietary software and Neptune is closely integrated with Crystal Reports from Business Objects.

The system is supplied with several standard report formats including: · Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) · Sample Collection Work list · Chain of Custody Report · Bench Sheet · Supplies &, Chemicals Used In addition, there are 15 template management reports that may be used as a starting point for your own “tailored” reports. Compliance with Regulations All Matrix products are developed by Autoscribe Ltd. in an ISO 9001-2000 certified process. They use life-cycle techniques and full documentation is available for review and audit. Neptune offers full security and a comprehensive audit trail on all functions and records to enable compliance with EPA, GMP, GALP, NELAC and ISO 17025. No entries or results are ever over-written and lost.

All changes (if permitted) may require a comment and the time, date and person making the change are stored automatically. Neptune also supports electronic signatures. Optional additional modules are available for storing and reporting staff training records and status along with instrument calibration and maintenance events. Links with other computer systems In today’s fast-paced environment, the laboratory can no longer be isolated from the rest of the organization, it must be closely linked with other plant and regulatory reporting systems. Hence modern LIMS cannot function as “islands of automation” they must be closely coupled to your other computer systems and networks. Neptune provides several alternative ways to link with other systems including a very powerful Advanced Programming Interface (API).

Autoscribe will be pleased to discuss the best approach to this part of your project. Installation and Support Autoscribe offers a full range of professional services to install, configure and train all levels of staff on the Matrix family of products, including Neptune. Once installed, we train our clients on how to make the most use of the powerful configuration tools supplied with Matrix. This includes modifying input screens, changing menus, setting security, building tests and modifying existing reports and building new ones. Your Matrix system will adapt as your requirements change. System Administration Training is also offered in regularly scheduled classes of 3.5 days duration and in 90 minute web-based, tutorials.

A fully comprehensive software support agreement is available that provides unlimited, remote support via direct telephone links to our technical team or via email or fax. It also includes all new revisions of the product that become available while the contract is in place. Matrix Neptune LIMS is the fastest, easiest, best system for managing the workflow and reporting your results in your water-testing laboratory. Further Information Autoscribe Limited is a world leader in the development and supply of successful LIMS (Laboratory Information Management Systems) and software solutions for the scientific laboratory and business markets. Autoscribe pioneered the use of innovative LIMS configuration tools within the LIMS market and today Matrix Gemini LIMS software is seen as the industry standard to which others aspire.

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