Univ. Laboratory Exploits Statistical Software to Speed Up Research and Testing

Article excerpt

Performing scientific testing and research in a timely and efficient manner is a top priority for laboratories worldwide. At a major mid-western university's Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, technicians specialize in the prevention of animal diseases and identification of illnesses.

Crucial to the lab's success is the turn-around time of medical samples - how long it takes to obtain results after samples are submitted. If technicians deliver test results too late, an animal's life could be jeopardized.

Mina F. Wright, laboratory manager and assistant director of lab services, had received several complaints about the turn-around times in some departments. So she decided to conduct a statistical analysis of all lab work to determine what was going wrong.

* Examining Delays

"We tried to pinpoint exactly what the biggest causes of delays were," says Wright. To do that, she enlisted the help of MINITAB statistical software, published by MINITAB, Inc., in State College, Pa.

Wright entered a year's worth of data on factors that could affect turn-around time, such as late sample retrievals, wrong identification numbers, equipment failure, personnel shortages and the need for additional testing. The software did the rest of the work.

MINITAB integrates process-control capabilities with a comprehensive set of statistical methods. Users can access a wide variety of Pareto diagrams, Shewhart-type control charts and problem-solving tools. …