Nuclear lab performs LIMS upgrades

Jon Lawson

By working closely with Autoscribe on the upgrade of Matrix 4 to Matrix Gemini, staff at Cavendish Nuclear’s environmental laboratory have become so proficient in using Gemini’s one-time configuration tools that they manage and implement any updates and developments to their own system as their needs arise.

Cavendish Nuclear’s environmental laboratory is an internationally recognised provider of specialist radiometric analysis for a wide range of environmental and personnel matrices, requiring low limit detection techniques. Radioactive materials measured include tritium activation and fission products, radium, thorium, uranium and plutonium isotopes, daughter products and transuranic elements.

Employing leading edge analytical techniques such as gamma spectrometry, alpha spectrometry, alpha scintillation, gas flow proportional counting and liquid scintillation counting in the UKAS accredited laboratory, Cavendish Nuclear produces analytical data to support quality, safety and environmental standards, regulatory compliance and research and testing programmes in the nuclear, civil and industrial sectors.
The laboratory carries out around 100,000 determinations for radio-isotopes and stable (non-radioactive) isotopes per year from some 40,000 environmental media samples ranging from soil, silts and sediments to rain, lake, tap, surface and river waters, to meat, fish and food crops as well as air sample filter papers and many more. Originally part of Sellafield before becoming independent, the laboratory was using a LIMS dating back to 1992.

Following the successful implementation of a new Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), a further challenge arose when the company updated its operating system to Windows 7, which required a further upgrade of the LIMS.

Autoscribe's Matrix 4 LIMS was chosen in 2008 for the new LIMS and the company and Autoscribe worked closely together to ensure that Matrix 4 was configured correctly. A strong partnership evolved during this implementation period. The function-rich Matrix 4 LIMS was chosen because it featured extremely powerful configuration tools that allowed the system to be tailored to the required workflow and testing methods. In addition, the Matrix product line has been developed to specifically ensure backwards compatibility and easy upgrades. When Cavendish Nuclear changed its operating system to Windows 7, it was able to upgrade the LIMS to Matrix Gemini in 2013 at no additional cost as it was an existing customer with a regular support and maintenance contract. This “future proofing” approach gives customers peace of mind that their LIMS software will always be maintained to the very latest functionality.
Matrix Gemini is written using C# and is designed to take advantage of the benefits offered by the Microsoft .NET tools, All screens developed using V4 can be seamlessly ported across to Gemini and immediately acquire the enhanced functionality offered by Gemini. For example, all screens are immediately web-enabled and become accessible through the web browser user interface that is provided as standard in Gemini. The potential offered by Matrix Gemini has led to enhanced networking capabilities being introduced in the laboratory allowing easier transfer of data files.

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