ladders_111120When it comes to efficiency for labs, many variables must be considered. Starting from the kind of samples you analyze, the quantity, and requirements.

Being toxic compounds, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans (PCDD/F) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) are persistent organic pollutants that are included in the Stockholm Convention. Therefore, these are regulated in many countries worldwide. The regulations specify their maximum acceptable levels for food and the environment as well as detection and quantification methods. For Dioxin analysis specifically, magnetic sector technology is recognized as official method by regulations worldwide.

In real-world laboratories, implementing regulations might be challenging, as fully automated measurement systems do not exist, and semiautomated methods require large amounts of manpower.

In the webinar, “Reduced Turnaround Time for PCDD/F Analyses with Lean Management and One-Piece-Flow,” Kay Kelterer (Founder, Kay Kelterer Environmental Consulting) and Matthias Nickel (LeanmyLab) explain how labs analyzing PCDD/F and PCB can be more efficient by delivering results faster to clients without sacrificing quality and ensuring that compliance and quality are maintained.

Let’s explore the two concepts that are explained in the webinar. Do you use any of them in your lab? Share your experience in the comments section.

Lean Management

The concept of “Lean management” comes from business practice, aiming at minimizing process waste and maximizing the value of a product or service to the customer, without compromising the quality.

If we apply this concept to a lab practice, we need to consider that the workflow for dioxin analysis consists of numerous steps and that samples are performed in batch mode, in which each step is completed for all of the samples before moving on to the next step. Saying that we have seven samples, it takes an entire day to complete the first four steps and it would take a second day to clean the extracts to avoid matrix interferences.

It is clear then that in a contract laboratory, waiting times are the largest source of waste, as all samples of a batch must wait for the slowest sample of the batch to “catch up.” The whole batch can proceed as a unit only when the last sample of a batch is ready for the next step.

Also, employees and/or equipment readiness impact the workflow and how the batch can proceed further. This is the starting point of the Lean Management tool: One-Piece-Flow.

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One-Piece-Flow

One-Piece-Flow applied for dioxin analysis requires a change of perspective: samples are processed sequentially, meaning that one sample is in each step of the workflow at any given time.

This approach allows a more efficient use of employee time and equipment usage (for example the Thermo Scientific DFS Magnetic Sector) is optimized.

No change is required in the analytical workflow itself, meaning that the same steps are followed and that regulation requirements are met.

Even better, labs might see an improvement in the quality of the results, as the one-piece-flow approach allows labs finding solutions to problematic issues faster: the identification of any defective sample would happen quicker in the process and would only impact that particular sample, rather than the entire batch.

It Works

In the webinar, an example is shown using seven PCDD/F and PCB representative samples. By implementing Lean Management and the One-Piece-Flow, all of them were run and reported in one day.

No changes were implemented for the actual steps of the analysis, ensuring compliant results with regulations. Even, data quality and response time improved, alongside customer satisfaction.

In case you are interested in more resources about dioxin and POPs analysis, browse the resources below: