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How automated microbial quality control reduces the risk of human error

Posted by Rapid Micro Biosystems on August 28, 2017

Automating microbial detection removes human labor – and human error – from much of the QC process. Automation ensures faster, more accurate results and frees personnel from redundant tasks to focus on other responsibilities.

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Automating plate transfer and imaging

The manual method for counting cultures, now more than 100 years old, is rife with potential errors. During incubation, plates can be misplaced, mislabeled, or thrown out before they’ve been fully analyzed. During enumeration, miscounting can result in interim colony counts that are higher than final totals. Data entry presents opportunities for transcription errors. 

Automated detection and enumeration with the Growth Direct System drastically reduce the risk for errors by assigning imaging, plate transfer, and data reporting processes to pre-programmed technology. The sample collection process is conveniently the same as the traditional compendial method. Microbiologists prepare samples on barcoded cassettes. Growth Direct then interfaces with existing laboratory information management systems (LIMS). Growth Direct also automatically sorts cassettes according to your testing protocol into on-board incubators set for specific times and temperatures.

Instead of relying on the error-prone eyes of humans, automated rapid detection with Growth Direct relies on digital imaging technology that detects and counts the autofluorescence of growing microbes. Using automated technology to detect and count colonies ensures accuracy and consistency. The need for consistency is amplified as sample volumes increase and the variability in manual counts between technicians also increases.   

Plus, with a non-destructive detection method that requires no reagents, users can proceed to identify colonies in flagged cassettes without the need to re-culture.

Automating data reporting

The interface between Growth Direct and LIMS allows for automatic reporting, reducing the risk of data entry errors. Even with a sophisticated LIMS, manual microbial detection requires technicians to record the results of each sample. Automatic detection creates instant records, which can be quickly viewed and analyzed through a variety of existing LIMS.

For labs without LIMS, automatic enumeration still delivers powerful benefits by producing comprehensive reports and generating alerts based on specified colony limits.

Automatically creating value for manufacturers

Efficiencies achieved with Growth Direct automation can deliver significant value to pharmaceutical manufacturers. 

As manufacturers face an ever-increasing demand for higher volume and greater speed, relying on manual compendial testing methods may no longer be a viable option. They are too labor-intensive, slow, prone to human error, and vulnerable to tampering and poor compliance. 

In sharp contrast, automated QC reduces the most time-consuming tasks associated with microbial detection. Now, companies can achieve consistently reliable results in about half the time, reduce errors and investigations, reassign personnel, and bring products to market faster than ever before possible.

Learn more about how automated QC with the Growth Direct System reduces the risk of human error—and increases the efficiency of your facility.

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