Video showing how the system works

QCL automates thanks to Bio-Rad’s pathogen detection system

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

QC Laboratories takes up Bio-Rad’s iQ-Check Prep Automation Solution
QC Laboratories takes up Bio-Rad’s iQ-Check Prep Automation Solution

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QC Laboratories has installed Bio-Rad’s iQ-Check Prep Automation Solution for detecting foodborne pathogens.

QCL is an independent food testing lab that employs over 200 professional scientists and support personnel and operates eight facilities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

The iQ-Check Prep Automation Solution consists of the iQ-Check Prep System, a liquid handling system that automates sample preparation for real-time PCR, and iQ-Check Real-Time PCR Kits.

It allows up to 94 samples per run and all pathogens can be run in parallel on the same plate.

The system can perform up to 500 tests in an eight hour shift and run up to four different iQ-Check assays simultaneously.

It was displayed at the IFT Trade Show in Chicago last year​.

System accuracy

Wendy Lauer senior product manager at Bio-Rad told that it had worked with QC Labs before but the firms had not done specific projects together.

“We were talking to them about investing in our system because of the accuracy. They were looking at another automated system, but we did a Lean Six Sigma process analysis and they decided to select ours.”

The Lean Six Sigma process analysis is an evaluation comparing Bio-Rad’s offering to its competitors via a workflow analysis looking at areas such as cost of assays and media and system upkeep.

Bio-Rad claims that traceability is achieved by the link between the CFX Manager IDE Software and a laboratory information management system (LIMS).

Lauer said the system had been installed at QCL for a few months.

“They started using the manual system and they had a short demo with the automatic version and ran a few challenging samples to check the validations were all in order,” ​she said.

“They started with E.coli O157 and moved onto more assays as a high throughput lab they needed automation.

“It fits into the lab workflow and is a seamless transition, it automates a manual process that is already validated. It frees up technicians in the lab as they don’t need to babysit the machine while it is working and if there is a problem it will give you a notification.”  

Outperformed previous system

Karen Battista, laboratory manager at QC Laboratories, said the Lean Six Sigma process analysis revealed the pathogen detection method outperformed the previous system in accuracy, time efficiency, and cost effectiveness.

Battista said it was accurate, with no reported false positives or negatives. It also detects whether a sample is present, which prevents misinterpretation of a negative result.

“For instance, if a technician forgets to add a sample, Bio-Rad’s instrument makes this clear​,” she said. “The system we used before in the laboratory could only indicate a negative result, but it couldn’t say whether this was due to a lack of sample.”

The iQ-Check Prep System’s walk-away automation functionality allows less hands-on time with the instrument.

“Once our technicians start the instrument, they can walk away and do other tasks​,” said Battista.

“Less hands-on time during sample preparation greatly reduces the opportunity for errors. This was not possible with our previous automation system.”

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