Sarah Rosenblum, Packaging Compliance LabsWelcome to the life of a PCL lab technician! Every day is a new exciting challenge with new types of testing, engineering design verification and client interactions. You name it, we can help test it. All mornings begin with the production meeting: We recap what’s happened the previous day, formulate our game plan for the day, and are vigilantly trying to stay ahead of the curve with any potential incoming studies. Communication is one of our biggest allies, even when working in a tight-knit environment. It is essential to be as current as possible with information relating to testing. This helps to ensure we are working hard to meet client commitments and expectations are throughout the life of the study.
A single lab tech can process receiving a sample, prepare it for transportation testing, begin environmental conditioning, start an accelerated aging study and then also process integrity testing. These tests include bubble leak testing, peel testing, and visual inspections, to name a few. Once testing is complete the lab tech can then prepare samples for shipping back to the client. We are the boots on the ground so to speak and are often the first and last person to interact with a study or samples. And it doesn’t end there, we are also often then drafting the report or updating the client with the results of the testing, which ensures that any vital details are captured directly from the source and speedily communicated to the client.
As a PCL lab technician, we strive to work as a team and remain flexible. Often the fluidity of our team is put to the test-you never know when a study will need to be modified, when the needs of the client may change or when the results of testing can further impact current studies.
Sometimes rerouting the current testing to better suit their needs. Often, depending on the results of integrity testing determines the course of action a client will be able to take in the future and it is our top priority to make sure we are not only processing things quickly but also following any changes made mid-study. Again, this is where the communication between an engineer and technician is important.
As with any study, the unfortunate potential for failures is present. As lab technicians when we encounter them we first and foremost notify the engineer of the failure. This communication is key in speedily relating information to the client, especially if they are eagerly awaiting any news on the results. Our main goal as technicians is to document all details possible relating to the failure. We work closely with the engineer that is involved with the study and hope to gain as much insight as to what might have occurred. We then inform our clients with all the information possible. A failure in unfortunate, but it is one of the many ways we have strengthened our processes and client interactions.
How do we manage to get so much done in one day you ask? Well, through one of our Kaizen events we determined that an electronic router would be one of the most beneficial tools for success. With the use of these tools, our lead times drastically shortened and report turnaround time improves. We strive to deliver reports to clients within 24–48 hours of the completion of testing. This process helped eliminated time wasted (e.g. re-transcribing everything, potential clerical mistakes). It ensured that after testing was complete, drafting the report would be much more efficient. Managed by our quality system electronic data sheets – that are made real-time, immediately recording anything that occurs during the life of the study – quality checks can also then be made real-time. All the pertinent information is always at our fingertips.
Sarah Rosenblum is director of business development and marketing at Packaging Compliance Labs (Kentwood, Mich.).
The opinions expressed in this blog post are the author’s only and do not necessarily reflect those of MedicalDesignandOutsourcing.com or its employees.