Sample Sorting

How one biotech turned a two-person task into a one-person job,

allowing lab staff to focus on other lab needs and supporting social distancing measures

Summary: Our customer, a 300-employee biotech, offering scalable, customizable solutions to support discovery, clinical trials, and product life-cycle management, has implemented LabVoice’s scientific voice assistant platform to optimize their lab operations. Before LabVoice, lab ops personnel performed several tasks in pairs, including sorting incoming samples, which we detail below. With laboratory voice assistants, they increased efficiency by freeing up the time of a second person who was able to focus on laboratory activities and effectively social distance during current restrictions imposed by the new coronavirus. In some cases, using LabVoice was faster than the once two-person job.

  • The sample management team worked more efficiently, no longer requiring two people to perform manual tasks.

  • In some cases, using LabVoice helped the team save time (complete processes more efficiently)

  • The laboratory has used LabVoice to train new team members.

  • The LabVoice system has enabled the team to support social distancing measures since physical distance is a crucial factor in preventing transmission of COVID-19. Integration of LabVoice means that sample sorting longer requires two team members speaking from less than six feet apart.


About the Customer: Our customer is a US-based biotech with over 300 employees. They have conducted more than 10,000 independent and collaborative studies, resulting in more than 2,000 publications in leading peer-reviewed journals. Like many laboratory environments, they’re always exploring how to operate more efficiently. Their expertise is accelerating research and product development for clients in academia, population health, consumer products, and nutrition industries through proprietary platforms linked to metabolomics.


Status Quo: Customer sample preparation had been a two-person job for the lab. To ensure that each sample ended up on the correct instrument, the team would have one person physically sorting and moving the samples from a source rack, and another directing that person as to where to place that sample in a destination rack.

Here’s how the scientist approached their work:

Sample Sorting 1.png
  1. Scientist A would grab the samples from the source box and read each sample out loud.

  2. Scientist B scanned the spreadsheet with all of the destination locations for each sample. 

  3. Upon finding the corresponding sample slot, they would read it back to Scientist A, who then would move the sample to the destination.

  4. This process repeats as many times as needed, often taking about 1-2 hours, depending on the level of experience with each technician.

Using a scientific voice assistant has allowed this laboratory team to remove one FTE from this process altogether, supporting social distancing measures and enabling the additional lab worker to other more technical activities.


Instead of reading the samples out loud, Scientist A uses the LabVoice mobile app to scan the barcode of the sample. LabVoice then reads the destination location for the sample back to Scientist A, who places the sample in its destination box.


Meanwhile, Scientist B is elsewhere, working on other sample preparation tasks.

Sample Sorting 2.png

It’s so simple and effective; The laboratory has begun to identify other areas in which they can increase efficiency by introducing a voice assistant. They have even used LabVoice to train technicians who have never performed this sample sorting process, lessening the amount of time that their colleagues previously would dedicate to training them.