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Thermo Fisher Scientific Implements LIMS for the Food and Environment Research Agency

Published: Thursday, September 03, 2009
Last Updated: Thursday, September 03, 2009
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Fera uses Thermo Scientific Nautilus to manage critical laboratory data and processes.

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. has announced that The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), a UK-based government organization, has implemented Thermo Scientific Nautilus laboratory information management system (LIMS) for use in its laboratory near York, UK.

The LIMS is used to manage an archive of more than 50,000 samples, improving efficiencies and productivity across Fera’s laboratory. As food safety becomes even more of a legislative concern in the United States and Europe, Thermo Fisher Scientific is at the forefront of providing the right products and consulting services to meet the needs of international regulatory authorities and protect the safety of consumers around the world.

Fera is an executive agency of Defra and provides robust evidence, rigorous analysis and professional advice, underpinned by world class research, to government, international organizations and the private sector. Fera was created in April 2009 by merging the Central Science Laboratory (CSL), Defra’s Plant Health Division, Plant Health & Seeds Inspectorate, the Plant Variety Rights Office and Seeds Division, and the Government Decontamination Service. Its purpose is to support and develop a sustainable and secure food chain, a healthy natural environment and protect the global community from biological and chemical risks.

Fera is the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for the UK and Malta for chemicals in food, pesticides, veterinary drugs, dioxins and polychlorinated biophenyls (PCBs). NRL status means that Fera is officially responsible for setting up EU-wide standards for routine procedures and testing methods.

Fera manages more than 600 research projects, analyzing more than 50,000 plant and food samples a year. To establish credibility for its international work, Fera requires robust processes, and it decided that a single LIMS could support this objective instead of a number of smaller bespoke systems or manual processes.

The LIMS would enable the organization to manage all samples on site within a single repository and harmonize its worksheets across its laboratories. In addition, Fera recorded its analytical trend data manually, so it needed a LIMS system that could automate this information in an acceptable format to support internal investigation and reporting functions.

Fera selected Thermo Scientific Nautilus LIMS for its ease-of-use and its ability to be configured and managed in-house. In addition, it offers the company a flexible and intuitive user interface that makes it easy for laboratory personnel to configure the LIMS to suit individual workflows across the laboratory. Since the implementation of the system, Nautilus LIMS has improved operational efficiency by enabling data to be entered one time only and shared among all departments.

In addition, the LIMS has improved the security of data entry and has greatly assisted sample identification and tracking. Using Nautilus, parts of the laboratory are now 95 percent paperless, and the system reduces lab time by 25-30 percent because there is no manual recording of data and transcription errors are eliminated.

Paul Burrell, LIMS manager at Fera, comments: “Nautilus LIMS provides the ideal informatics solution for Fera because its flexibility allows us to expand and develop the services provided by the laboratory.”

He continues: “We use Nautilus LIMS strategically on projects, eliminating paper reports, working electronically and involving customers in the project by giving them access to their results in real time.  Only with Nautilus LIMS can Fera continue to manage so many diverse projects across so much of the laboratory.”

Nautilus LIMS provides Fera with a complete sample recording, management, retrieval and reporting system, improving productivity and efficiency. Prior to the implementation of LIMS, plate-well values had to be recorded manually, which took more than an hour. With Nautilus, this step can be completed within ten minutes. Fera’s Food Analytical Service has also substantially improved laboratory efficiency.

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