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Automated Decapping System Replaces Manual Steps

By Labmedica International staff writers
Posted on 17 Jan 2012
Image: The Decapper unit automates initial steps of sample processing, decapping, and aliquotting (Photo courtesy of Qiagen).
Image: The Decapper unit automates initial steps of sample processing, decapping, and aliquotting (Photo courtesy of Qiagen).
An open platform system enables laboratories to automate many tedious manual steps required for unscrewing (or “decapping”) the lids of clinical sample vials, extracting the sample material, and pipetting it into testing vials and then recapping the clinical sample vial.

The QIAensemble Decapper improves laboratory workflow by providing an automated solution for transferring clinical samples from closed primary vials to compatible tubes for downstream processing

Qiagen N.V. (Hilden, Germany) launched the QIAensemble Decapper automation system that will facilitate the handling of liquid-based cytology and various other types of liquid samples that are processed by clinical laboratories around the world.

Considered the first instrument of its kind designed to support downstream molecular testing, the QIAensemble Decapper will help to reduce the risk for injuries to laboratory staff from repetitive motions, while also eliminating the risk for variation among laboratory staff and improving productivity.

A professional ergonomics evaluation of the sample preparation processing of 88 samples showed QIAensemble Decapper reduced hands-on time by 70% compared to the time required for manual processing by a laboratory worker while eliminating more than 1,200 movements.

With a capacity to process up to approximately 800 samples per shift (excluding set-up time and post-processing requirements), QIAensemble Decapper was designed specifically for the handling and transfer of sample materials, and the addition of reagents. The instrument accommodates a variety of fluid types of variable viscosity for both samples and reagents.

The software system, which is operated by an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI), provides laboratory staff with a comprehensive and user-friendly report for each run. The software also offers chain of custody and an ability to identify samples that were not properly transferred.

The Decapper standardizes the processing with digital data collection and is highly flexible with regard to output tube types, such as conical tubes, u-shaped tubes, BD Vacutainer tubes, and Greiner’s Vacuette tubes. Additionally, the instrument will be compatible with sample racks on the QIAsymphony SP automation system.

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