Bringing an end to errors in the laboratory

26th October 2017 - Fine Cut

Working to minimise errors and mistakes in your laboratory helps to control costs and reduce risks. Reliable, specialised equipment is at the heart of any efficient laboratory, and the same care needs to be taken whether you’re purchasing a centrifuge, or labels for the samples being put into it.

Selecting labels that are durable and designed by a label specialist with their specific use in mind means fewer samples are lost or displaced, fewer legibility errors occur and the cumulative impact of these small but significant day-to-day disruptions are reduced.

Clear, readable labels

In any laboratory, an error comes at a high cost. Failing to identify a stored sample properly can cause delays and even postpone projects. At scale, the cost-impact of label degradation during storage, transit and distribution can be substantial.

For example, large scale medicinal product recalls owing to labelling errors come at a financial and reputational cost, and carry serious risks to the general public. Best practice guidelines are provided by organisations such as the European Medicines Agency, orientated around the end user, with good reason.

Clear, readable and accurate labels are no less important at the laboratory level, where problems cause frustrations among technicians and researchers, and the accumulation of small delays add up to a financial cost. 

What makes an accurate label?:

  • Materials - Printer inks, adhesives and label materials that are informed by its intended use to ensure optimum legibility in different environments.
  • Format -  Label and text dimensions to the proportions of the container or equipment it will be attached to, that enables easy recognition. Choose an appropriate barcode format (QR code or 1d matrix) according to information requirements.
  • Interactions - The position and layout of barcodes and the size and proportion of spaces for handwritten details improve the long-term efficacy and readability of your labels.

Durable labels

Exposure to different substances and environmental conditions in a laboratory make the long-term durability of labels one of the most important design features. Laboratory labels are tested to the extreme, so flaws or use of labels in environments for which they are not designed very quickly cause problems for the team.

Working with an experienced, efficient manufacturer that is familiar with the requirements of laboratory labels and the importance of a thorough briefing process is indispensable.

Durable label manufacture:

  • Extreme conditions - Laboratory labels can be exposed to cryogenic freezing, liquid nitrogen and corrosive chemicals. Ensuring printed information or barcode data remains easily legible after exposure to these conditions, often for long periods, is a priority.
  • Material properties - Rigorous end user testing is essential when selecting suitable label materials. An ultra-thin membrane to limit peeling, highly-durable adhesives and a resistance to chemicals and cleaning substances are just some common laboratory label features.
  • Production workflow - Close consultation with an experienced manufacturer that offers samples for end user testing before orders are sent into full production is important for meeting bespoke laboratory label requirements.

How Fine Cut can help

Fine Cut are the UK market leaders for the provision of durable label solutions for the Medical industry. We are able to offer a complete recommendation to suit your specific requirements and cater for your full product or laboratory label and marking needs. Fine Cut have worked closely with large Blue Chip companies and public bodies over the past 30 years and have amassed an unrivalled level of expertise and knowledge within this sector. 

We have worked with some of the UK’s leading analytical and production laboratories who use labelling as part of their GLP (good laboratory practice) regime. This regime requires total product traceability and control throughout the full test / production procedures and Fine Cuts range of laboratory label materials provides the confidence they require so they can perform throughout the full procedures without fading, smudging or falling off.

Additionally, Fine Cut have assisted companies who are labelling CE products used within an NHS environment and companies who require UL approved materials to be used on their products for the North American market. Labels can be applied to a range of surfaces ranging from metal to plastic and can also survive cleaning processes required to keep products in line with stringent Infection control guidelines. 

We have the capability of providing pantone and CMYK print processes and can match corporate colours and guidelines for product marking. We also have a quality controlled studio for the printing of variable data, serial numbers and barcodes (data matrix and QR codes). This ensures that every label is checked, scanned and reads before it is sent out. 

Our labels are versatile and resilient providing enhanced durability and performance levels within their required remit. If you have a label project you wish to discuss, one of our medical specialists will be happy to help.

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