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NFC May Bring Efficiency, Accountability to Laboratories

Test and research labs are tracking the chemicals and other samples used for their scientific work, by tagging products with open-detection labels and capturing data about the use and storage of each item via a solution from MilliporeSigma.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 24, 2020

Life sciences company MilliporeSigma has launched an RFID solution for research and testing laboratories, intended to improve lab efficiency, safety and data-capture accuracy. The dual-frequency tag works with Near Field Communication (NFC) currently, but will also transmit at UHF in the future.

The solution tracks each individual chemical or consumable product used in a lab, detects when it has been opened and provides data regarding pending expiration dates. It is also intended to automatically collect and manage data about how the products are used, thereby reducing the need for the manual inputting of information by busy lab technicians.

The Lab Inventory, Safety and Compliance Management System (LANEXO) was developed by MilliporeSigma with the support of several key laboratory customers, says Christian Kuechenthal, the company's head of smart consumables. MilliporeSigma, with a Life Science Center in Burlington, Mass., provides scientists and engineers with lab technologies and solutions, Kuechenthal explains. The group supplies technology to help labs bring pharmaceutical products to customers faster.

Both test and research laboratories employ a large number of chemicals and consumables in the process of developing and testing new drugs. Some of these compounds are highly sensitive and may have a short expiration date that is affected by the opening of a container or packaging, while some chemicals must be stored separately from others for safety purposes.

Traditionally, lab technicians manually track these items by reading the printed labels, and by recording data on lists and spreadsheets indicating where items are being stored and when they are used. During testing or development work, clinicians often must also manually record what was used during an experiment. According to Kuechenthal, approximately 85 percent of laboratories that the company polled indicated they used pen and paper and manual data input to track their products and in-lab activities.

That's a large challenge for large laboratories, which can have hundreds or thousands of different chemicals onsite at any given time, each of which needs to be closely managed. This information is critical to make sure that the laboratory meets stringent guidelines from government bodies, Kuechenthal says, and to ensure the quality of the drug that will be used by patients. Therefore, MilliporeSigma sought a better method for laboratories to manage its chemicals and other compounds.

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