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Around the world, large volumes of PCR tests on top of the usual sample volume pose additional challenges for laboratories. At the same time, those tested in these tests are waiting particularly urgently for the results. ASP Lab Automation has the solutions to ensure a smooth process flow for PCR tests already in automated sample preparation and to ensure maximum customer satisfaction.

In order to get the Corona pandemic under control, medical laboratories play a central role with the performance of mass PCR tests. Characteristic for this is a strongly fluctuating sample volume. This confronts medical laboratories with the almost impossible task of working through a seasonal peak without knowing how long and to what extent this additional task will occur.

Automated sample preparation can be the deciding point between a successful and smooth workflow or a chaotic state in this case. Qualified staff has become a growth-limiting factor for medical laboratories even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional staff will therefore rarely be enough to solve the problem. Intelligent solutions are therefore required to cope with the current flood of PCR tests in the short term, which at the same time should be future-proof, even in a future without Covid-19 tests under pandemic conditions.

For the processes in automated sample preparation, the ASP SortPro sorter can be such a solution. Its high processing speed of over 3,000 tubes/hour is normally used in sprints to get incoming samples into the analysis as quickly as possible. Especially at peak times or during periods when large proportions of samples arrive, the SortPro helps with sample capture and sample registration like no other instrument.

In addition, the built-in intelligence of the device enables the sorting of samples according to their age. This allows samples that have taken a long time to reach the laboratory to be prioritized for subsequent laboratory processes, thus partially compensating for the time lost. Thanks to the intelligent sample preparation of the SortPro samples with delayed delivery can be quickly recorded and sorted.

Just one laboratory as an example: the customer recently switched to two ASP SortPro sorters of the latest generation, which can also process PCR tubes up to a length of 120 mm.

Their throughput, which is twice as high as its predecessors, offers such high capacity reserves that the processing of the additional 50,000 samples per day can be carried out without additional staff. The aim of the laboratory is to get the samples into the analysis as quickly as possible and thus not have any sample wastage after their arrival within the laboratory.

Due to the time-consuming transport of Covid tests over long distances to this central laboratory, a particular challenge is to provide customers with their results in a timely manner. Now that the LIS sends the time stamp of the sample collection to SortPro, the intelligent SortPro can sort the samples according to this. The laboratory staff can then prioritize the samples in the PCR testing processes.