Particle Technology Labs receives an average of 350 samples per week. What can you do to ensure your samples are handled quickly and analyzed accurately? We’ve put together a few tips to help the process run smoothly.
1. Give us some background information – The more we know, the better we can help
While we can certainly examine a sample and make a recommendation for analysis based on what we can see in front of us, one of the limitations of a service lab is not knowing the backstory or bigger picture of a project. In order to help you choose the most appropriate test for your application, it is very beneficial to know more about the situation and what you are trying to achieve. What are your objectives for the testing? What kind of questions are you looking to answer with this work? Are you designing a filtration process? Air emissions permitting? Looking to qualify a new raw material and compare it with your current supply? Giving a bit more of your sample’s story may just help reveal the path that will provide you with the most apt results.
2. Specifications and comparisons – Have you ever done this before?
Is there a method already in place for performing this analysis specific to this material, or do you have a compendial method you would like to reference? Do you have previous results or a Certificate of Analysis you will be comparing with these results?
With many laboratory tests, there are multiple techniques or instruments available, and they will all measure and report results in a different way. Sharing any previous work, methods, or specifications will help us to set up the analysis to produce the most comparable, “apples to apples” results.
3. Sample Quantity Requirements – How much is too much – a pinch or a railcar?
It is not always easy to estimate how much sample is needed for an analysis, since many of the requirements are very sample specific. The initial recommendations we provide are general estimates that will apply to most sample variations. And we usually welcome a little extra material, especially the first time we perform the work, so we can be sure the analysis is set up properly (with a little extra to spare “just in case”).
But there is such a thing as too much! If we are not using the entire sample in an analysis, we need to be able to sub-sample properly to remove a representative aliquot from the bulk material. When most of our work is on the order of grams, receiving a whole sack, bucketful, or drum is usually a little more than we are equipped to easily handle.
If ever you are not sure, feel free to reach out to our Sales Team to discuss the sample amount recommendations in more detail. We can often find a way to work with the amount you can spare, though it usually entails a technical discussion with the lab team.
4. Ship paperwork with your samples – “Mystery” Samples
No, this is not a new best selling detective book. This is what we call samples that arrive without the required paperwork (Laboratory Service Order form, copy of Purchase Order/Credit Card info, Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for the material).
When samples are shipped without these documents, a wild goose chase ensues. Our Order Entry team will need to track down clues (without the help of Watson or Scooby Snacks), to try to figure out what the material is, to whom it belongs, which tests are required, and who is paying for the work. This can add significant delays to the project, especially if the samples have been shipped by a different company (partner, CMO, etc.), where it is not easy to connect the dots.
And YES, we do need that SDS (preferably every time you submit). Considering we collaborate with many different industries, we must assume all samples are hazardous until we have the appropriate safety paperwork in place – “white powder” describes many of the samples we receive, but they are not all confectioner’s sugar.