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IDEXX relies on SATO labelling solutions

26 April 2013

Printing systems for demanding veterinary applications

Every day IDEXX’s veterinary medicine lab in Ludwigsburg (Germany) receives thousands of samples to be analysed. The lab is a subsidiary of IDEXX Laboratories, Inc., the world market leader in veterinary diagnostics, and routinely relies on labelling products from SATO, the leading supplier of solutions for automatic identification and data acquisition.

For every sample received, IDEXX Vet·Med·Labor generates an internal eight-character EAN barcode that uniquely identifies the sample through the analysis process and enables traceability. Some of the samples are divided among several test tubes, for example in cases where different tests are necessary and they cannot be performed sequentially. To handle labelling for the large number of samples, IDEXX Vet·Med·Labor chose SATO’s versatile and mobile stand-alone printers and the veterinary diagnostics specialist operates several printers in parallel.

The initially generated barcode allows the samples to be scanned everywhere inside the lab and all essential information to be retrieved: where they come from, which stations they have already passed through, which diagnostic findings are already available, and so on. This enables IDEXX Vet·Med·Labor to provide a full spectrum of diagnostic services, including clinical analysis, haematology, DNA analysis, bacteriology and virology, as well as special diagnostics.

In the haematology section, where specialists examine sample smears under the microscope, IDEXX Vet·Med·Labor was faced with the challenge of labelling the sample slides in a way that would allow them to withstand the rigours of the lab workflow, including dye baths. The printing must not smear or fade, and the labels must remain firmly attached to the slides. Clear and accurate identification is essential for the reliability of the processes and for quality assurance. SATO and IDEXX Vet·Med·Labor collaborated closely to develop labels that meet these special environmental conditions. The key factors are the right material and the appropriate adhesive. These custom labels can only be printed with satisfactory quality by SATO’s tried and tested CL408 industrial printers. As in many applications, perfect matching of the printer and the labels is the key to success.

After the samples have passed through the various analysis stations, it is usually necessary to archive reference samples. This allows the samples to be recovered if any questions arise at a later date. For this purpose, some 50 to 100 samples are grouped and stored together in racks. These racks are also marked clearly with barcodes linked to the data of the individual samples. For this task, IDEXX Vet·Med·Labor uses SATO’s compact desktop printers in the CG series with their user-friendly keypads.

“As a company we stand for top quality and reliability," says Pierre Schulze, Lab Support Analyst at IDEXX Vet·Med·Labor. “That’s why transparent and consistent end-to-end processes are essential for our success. Clear and accurate identification of our samples is an important prerequisite for this. We are pleased with our good relationship with SATO and with the durability and high printing quality of the equipment.”

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