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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

If the container is opened, the tag will indicate that status and the software will be updated to track the date on which the product will expire, based on that opening. The software can then issue an alert for each product's pending expiration date. The system displays not only what is expiring, but where it is being stored, and it can also alert users if a specific compound needs to be replenished.

For users who retrieve a chemical for research or testing purposes, the system provides a warning if that chemical has already expired, thereby preventing the compound's use. That enables both inventory efficiency and safety, the company explains. "The whole thing—why the LANEXO system is so special—is not just the efficiency of always having stock," Kuechenthal states, "but also managing inventory from a quality and safety perspective." Users can read the tag on a cabinet to view what is being stored within, along with the expiration date or other relevant data about those items. "Our algorithms know the status of the cabinet and what is inside."

When technicians use a compound (while conducting a test or research, for instance), they can once again read the tag in order to link the product with the work being carried out. The individual conducting the procedure would then be automatically linked to that item, and a record of that procedure and related products would be stored in the software.

MilliporeSigma designed and built the label to operate with any NFC-based Android devices. In the short term, Kuechenthal predicts, future the LANEXO system will also provide UHF RFID read functionality to enable tags to be read at a distance of several meters. In that way, laboratories could track product location without using a handheld reader. In such a scenario, dual frequency labels could be read via fixed RFID readers installed in portals or overhead or by mobile readers.

"For our first run," Kuechenthal says, "we are offering the LANEXO system with a near-field focus," to ensure that tags will be read at short range, and that the solution will be relatively low in cost to deploy. Laboratories will share the collected RFID read data with auditors or government agencies to prove compliance with safety regulations. "That means managing the data is being done more efficiently, as well as accurately."

Users can purchase the LANEXO system which includes dual frequency NFC and UHF tags to apply to their products as well as software which they access with an annual payment. The solution is now commercially available, the company reports, and several laboratories throughout Europe and North America, which have asked to remain unnamed, are in the process of deploying the technology.

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