La Drôme Laboratoire is a laboratory in France conducting analysis in hydrology and environment, food safety, and biology. With approximately 100 employees, the laboratory serves both public and private sectors with drinking water sample analysis, consulting and education. In 2016, it increased its analysis by 8%.
La Drôme Laboratoire works with several government agencies in southeast France. In doing so, it must fulfill comité français d’accréditation (COFRAC) requirements for onsite measurements of chlorine, pH, redox, oxygen, conductivity and temperature. COFRAC is the French accreditation required when working for government agencies; one of these agencies is the Rhone-Mediterranean and Corsica Water Agency, which requires onsite measurement, sampling and laboratory analysis.
To execute this job, La Drôme Laboratoire employed six field technicians to make sampling and onsite measurement using two instruments: a photometer with DPD reagents for total chlorine, and a portable meter for pH, conductivity, redox and oxygen. Including spare equipment, it has 10 photometers and 10 portable meters for pH, conductivity, redox and oxygen.
After a day of onsite measurements, the team records their readings back at the office. Technicians encountered common problems that stem from managing data sets across multiple device types. These problems added time to their overall process, created situations for user error and made data management exceedingly difficult.
These problems included:
- Technicians found it hard to manage data with the portable meter;
- Sample ID lists were complex to create, delete or export;
- Exporting data was not easy or timely; and
- It was impossible to export data from the photometer and to track production numbers with DPD powder pillows.
Solutions & Improvements
La Drôme Laboratoire, which relied on two testing instruments, implemented the Hach SL1000 portable parallel analyzer, which replaced a photometer with DPD reagents used for testing total chlorine, and a portable meter used for testing pH, conductivity, redox and oxygen, thus streamlining data management to a single device. The analyzer offered rapid, real-time results, as well as tools for data logging in a single handheld device, allowing users to easily import and export data. It allowed personnel to run four colorimetric and two probe-based measurements at the same time using one water sample, including result traceability for chlorine, pH, conductivity and oxygen.
To conduct a test, the user inserts the Chemkey reagents and probes into the device. The user then dips the Chemkeys into the sample cup, and shortly thereafter the SL1000 displays the reading for each test. In addition to reduced test time, sample results have reduced variability because the device performs the same test with less than half the manual steps compared to other methods. To collect data, technicians connect the analyzer to their computer and export an Excel file to their laboratory information management system. This process reduces mistakes and saves time, because all the data can be exported in the same file.
La Drôme Laboratoire encountered common problems that stem from managing data sets across multiple device types. These problems added time to the technicians’ overall process, created situations for user error and made data management exceedingly difficult. The SL1000 performs multiple standard tests and make data management easy. For a company that conducts testing with teams of technicians, standardizing on one device removes the hassle of training, maintenance and the added cost of multiple instruments. In addition to reduced testing time, sample results benefit from reduced variability because analyzer performs the same tests with less than half the manual steps of other methods.