On the morning of December 26, 2019, LabLynx, Inc., a trusted laboratory information management system (LIMS) vendor in Smyrna, GA, received a peculiar email. Someone claiming to be Kris Kringle had visited LabLynx.com and filled out a form requesting to connect with a LabLynx team member and schedule a demo of the ELab LIMS software solution.
The entire LabLynx office was abuzz. Jeremy, the Chief Technology Officer, and the software developers were convinced that this was no more than a silly holiday prank. But Laurie, the Chief Operating Officer, and the LabLynx Application Engineers were cautiously optimistic, trying hard to hide the childlike grins from their faces. The sales team did their due diligence, found the email address provided to be legitimate, and decided there was no harm in sending a reply.
Thank you very much for your interest in LabLynx. We would be more than happy to schedule an introductory meeting to discuss your business needs and see if LabLynx is a good fit. Please let us know a day/time that works for you. We look forward to hearing from you.
Peter, LabLynx Sales Account Executive
The office returned to their daily activities and soon forgot about the mysterious email until the main phone line rang at 3:45 pm. A small voice on the line said, “Good afternoon. Please hold for Santa Claus.”
Santa delivered the gift of a LIMS
To say that the next few weeks at LabLynx were exciting would have been an understatement. The introductory Zoom meeting with Santa Claus and his Chief Elf, Bruno, proved to be very insightful. Multiple division heads in the North Pole Operation had included a LIMS on their Christmas list. Santa had agreed to find a reputable LIMS vendor with experience across many different industries to fill the division heads’ requests. He promised to have everything purchased, implemented, and tested by the next holiday season.
“I completed some initial research on their website and liked that LabLynx was a small business, devoted to customer service and delivering the right software solution configured to meet each client’s needs. That resonates with me since I take pride in delivering the right present to each child on Christmas,” Santa said.
He continued: “I also appreciated that the LabLynx ELab LIMS was cloud-based and secured at AWS and that LabLynx offered 24/7 support. But more importantly, I was impressed that the LabLynx client list included businesses in all fields, from food safety, to package manufacturing, to agricultural analysis. I run a complicated enterprise and needed a solution that could work across diverse departments.”
The demonstration of the ELab LIMS solidified LabLynx as the frontrunner. After a proposal review meeting and some negotiations between Santa, Bruno, and John Jones, LabLynx CEO, LabLynx was the official LIMS vendor of the North Pole Operation.
LabLynx LIMS improved data management and quality control
The initial requirements-gathering phase proceeded smoothly with Stephanie and Stacie, LabLynx project co-managers, working hand-in-hand with the various Elf Division Leaders (ELDs), including Mrs. Claus, to document, categorize, and prioritize their needs.
It was clear that the North Pole Operation was going to need three distinct LIMS modules and an array of customized reports to improve efficiency and productivity in the areas that did the most testing and required the highest levels of quality control: Mrs. Claus’s Food Emporium, Wrapping & Ribbons, and the North Pole Snowy Forest.
Mrs. Claus’s Food Emporium
Mrs. Claus’s Food Emporium is in charge of feeding over 1,000 elves every day, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as cookie and cocoa snack breaks every two hours during the busy season. Due to the remote location of the North Pole Operation, all food is processed on-site. Mrs. Claus leads a team of elves trained as food and safety scientists to ensure that every pig and turkey is processed to US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards and that no cross-contamination occurs through the picking, packaging, and storage of their organic fruits and vegetables.
With the rise of food allergies in the elves over the last couple of decades, Mrs. Claus has faced a new challenge of having to test and label all cookies and baked goods offered at the Emporium to provide warnings of which products contain proteins like nuts, eggs, and milk.
“When the North Pole Operation first started, the Earth’s population was much smaller and we didn’t need the team of elves we have today,” Mrs. Claus recalled. “It was easy enough to just check off each product tested on the list and tie a small red bow on each packaging container to signify that all tests were good and the food product was ready for consumption.”
But the Emporium needed to keep up with the times, requiring a LIMS to better manage food testing operations. Clarence, EDL, and Mrs. Claus’s right-hand elf added: “The LabLynx LIMS is so much more than just a database for storing test results. We can barcode all samples and track them from receiving to disposal. We can assign specs and limits, and the LIMS flags out-of-limit results. Workflows for every test we run at the Emporium are configured exactly the way we want.”
Wrapping & Ribbons
With nearly half a billion children sending letters to Santa asking for everything from bikes to drum sets and pet fish, the Wrapping & Ribbons division of the North Pole Operation is tasked with ensuring each box and bow are structurally sound and can handle the weight of each gift nestled inside.
Quality control is key at Wrapping & Ribbons. It’s not enough for each package Santa places under the tree to be wrapped in shiny paper with silver sprinkles and a perfectly tied green bow. Each gift must arrive undamaged.
“We run all kinds of tests here at W&R,” said Noel, EDL in charge of wrapping, “from edge crush tests, bursting strength tests, puncture resistance tests, even vibration tests. After all, it can get a little bumpy on the sleigh if Santa hits turbulence.” Noel added, “Being able to have a LIMS that can handle all those workflows and integrate with our ECT tester, Mullen tester, and our vibration table makes my day so much easier.”
“Don’t forget about the bows,” Bella, EDL in charge of ribbons chimed in. “The LabLynx LIMS helps my department with managing the wear and damage tests needed to ensure the nylon ribbons won’t snag on the corners of the boxes and that the wired velvet ribbon holds its shape while in Santa’s bag.”
North Pole Snowy Forest
Elf scientists and researchers working in the Snowy Forest division of North Pole Operation are responsible for growing flawless specimens of Christmas trees, with sturdy green boughs, that classic tree shape, and the most aromatic scent that fills a room and tells everyone who enters that the holiday season has arrived. The data and techniques perfected in the Snowy Forest are shared with tree growers around the world so that every family that browses through a Christmas tree lot finds the ideal tree for their celebration.
In the United States, more than 35 tree species are used as Christmas trees, from Douglas and Fraser firs to Scotch and eastern white pines, to blue and Norway spruce. These and dozens more varieties are all grown at Snowy Forest, and Winnie, the EDL, leads the lab team in both seed and soil testing.
“It’s hard to say what is more important: a suitable soil or a strong seed,” said Winnie. “If either isn’t optimal, you just won’t grow a good Christmas tree.”
The Snowy Forest lab conducts nutrient and acidity (pH) tests across many types of soil (clay, sandy, loamy) so they can offer guidance and recommendations to growers in all environmental regions across the globe. They also run purity, germination, and moisture tests to determine the viability of the seeds they use in the forest.
“Having the LabLynx LIMS up and running allows my team to run 30 percent more tests each day,” Winnie explained. “With more data that we can manage and chart easily, we can draw better conclusions on the best combination of soil and seed to produce the healthiest, longest-lasting trees.”
Another happy LabLynx customer
“LabLynx was easy to work with, provided an excellent solution for each division of the North Pole Operation, and delivered a fully operational LIMS ahead of schedule and in plenty of time for the holiday season,” declared Santa Claus. “I am already seeing a return on my investment, but better than that, my elves—and wife—are happier not having to manage data in notebooks and spreadsheets, and productivity in each department has significantly improved.”
Santa added, “Since the LabLynx LIMS is scalable, I’m thinking of expanding its use to the Reindeer Reserve to handle our veterinary lab’s needs. I have to make sure the team is ready to fly on Christmas Eve!”