The Key To Sample Inventory Management Success

Marcus Oxer

Sample management success is based upon a whole host of different factors, from the rules set within your organisation through to the sample tracking and laboratory sample inventory management systems you have in place. 


Generally, your sample and inventory management processes might be fine, until one day, one of your lab technicians is on leave and you can't find the right sample in the freezer - it's not where they said it would be. Worse still, is that every sample has a scribbled hand written note on, making the identification and search process even more difficult. 

It's times like the one above that proper processes and rules make a big difference and it's because of moments like these that we believe the 5 elements below are key to your sample inventory management success!

1) Maintain accuracy of information (aka “know what you have, and how much you have of it")

  • Know what you have. Everything in your inventory should be accurately described using consistent terms, so anyone can find it easily
  • Know how much you have of it – this is made easier if amounts and concentrations are tracked automatically as you manage your samples
  • Accurately describe the types of container that your samples are in

This means that when you plan an experiment, you can do so with the confidence of knowing exactly what samples and reagents are available to you.

2) Track and trace everything

  • Know the full lifecycle of all your samples, from creation through aliquoting, dilution, plating out and more.
  • Generate reports on any aspect of your sample inventory management and its history, preferably from a comprehensive audit trail that meets recognised standards such as 21 CFR Part 11 or its equivalent

This means you can trace any experimental result to the originating sample without error, and be able to face regulatory audits with confidence.

3) Make the most efficient use of your freezers

  • Don’t waste space and energy on redundant or expired samples. Use sample expiry dates and accurate knowledge of your inventory to review and dispose of unwanted samples.
  • Accurately track your entire range of storage to match the physical layouts – ideally from building to laboratory right down to the X-Y coordinates of a sample in a rack

This means not needing to purchase unnecessary additional freezers and making it easier to find space for the samples that matter most.

4) Be able to search for anything
  • Locate suitable samples for your experiment from anywhere across your organisation (your colleague may hold stocks of some vital reagent!)
  • No more time-consuming rummaging in freezers trying to find samples
  • Pick all your samples from multiple locations in a single session by following a Pick List

You should never have to manually look through freezer boxes to find your samples. As well as being immensely time-consuming, it can also have a detrimental effect on your samples and freezers if the freezer door is open for extended periods.

If your sample inventory is described accurately, you should be able to search for samples using any criteria – descriptors, amounts, container type, locations – to find exactly what you need.

5) Barcode and label samples

  • Barcodes quickly and unambiguously identify any sample
  • Labels are accurate and easy to read – much more so than hand-written labels

Barcoding is easy to adopt and brings a host of advantages. Use pre-barcoded labware or label items with software-assigned barcodes – uniqueness is what matters.

Every feature of Mosaic FreezerManagement is designed and built with these five elements (and many more) in mind. From our decades of experience, we know that these elements are:

  • what make life easier for the scientist or lab technician working on a project
  • AND these same elements allow a lab manager to do their job well
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Here are some of the features we love to shout about:
  • Manage any sample type in any sample container - e.g. tubes, vials, flasks, microtitre plates, or tissue blocks and slides
  • Automatically find free space to store samples 
  • Intuitive search tools
  • Audit trail (21 CFR Part 11 compliant)
  • Sample expiry tracking


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