John Morrell Food Group


  • As a leading meat processer, John Morrell continually seeks ways to improve their quality, process and productivity. The microbiology laboratory sought to eliminate transcription errors, shorten its analysis turnaround time and reporting time through automation.

  • An immediate challenge was that the increasing sample volume would require additional resources to be hired, trained and deployed.

  • An alternative solution was examining the benefits of automation to leverage existing resources and allowing them to be more productive. This path was chosen and is the topic of this presentation.


  • The current system was labor intensive and required that all processes be manually checked and re-checked for accuracy prior to data release. Automation reduces transcription errors, increases productivity, enhancing data quality and accelerates result delivery. And faster turnaround translates into faster product release, longer shelf-life and cost savings. A centralized database also promotes communication and provides traceability.

Challenge: Sample Volume - Accessioning2D Barcode

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Can print varying number of sample labels (as needed)
Speed and accuracy via scanning
Enhanced traceability
Cost effective
Enhanced quality



VIDAS Sample Tracking (Prior to LIMS)

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Manual steps of matching the samples that arrived (listed on the chain of custody) and completing the VIDAS sample tracking sheet manually, tracking times, initials, locations, sample numbers were all very labor intense and error prone.





The microbiology laboratory leveraged the automated VIDAS system to test for Listeria spp., Salmonella spp. and E.coli:0157:H7 on various sample types. Prior to the automation, the manual steps of loading the sample IDs, scanning the print outs from the instruments and then entering the data into reports with secondary review required 40-45 min per batch of 60 samples. This time has been reduced to only 5 min for report review. Since the plants now email sample submittal forms, the data is received by the laboratory data management system called TITAN® (Accelerated Technology Laboratories, Inc., West End, NC.) and parsed and ready to receive the samples. Once the samples are loaded on the VIDAS instrument to match the worklist from TITAN®, they are run, the data is sent back to the data management solution and the final analysis report is completed automatically printed with signatures.

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  • Before TITAN®:

    • Verification: verify the order after all was set up and that they were received (team didn't know what was coming in) - only clue was what should have been received.

  • After TITAN®:

    • Laboratory prints off the work list from the LIMS and they verify against that list (more proactive which samples are supported) - what should have come in and what has come in from the plants.

Now the laboratory receives emails of what the plant should be sending and what the laboratory should be receiving so the laboratory staff knows right away when samples are missing. (Samples have already been placed in an "Order" in TITAN®). This results in time savings, reduces confusion, provides faster turnaround and better communication.

Bi-directional Integration (TITAN® and VIDAS)

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  • The laboratory has 4 VIDAS® integrated instruments for rapid screening of process-related samples and they run up to 900+ samples per day


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The primary enhancements are enhanced data quality and significant time savings. The automation has saved 35-40 min of work per batch (a batch contains 60 samples), and a typical day includes 10-12 batches or up to 720+ test results/day. Conservatively, if we use 35 min per batch, and 10 batches per day, the time savings are in the range of 5.83 hours/day.


Final Reporting

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Benefits of Automation with TITAN® LIMS @ John Morrell include:

  • Streamlined workflow

  • Increases in sample throughput and faster turnaround time

  • Enhanced data quality and efficiency

  • Security to allow only authorized users access and audit trail

  • Better utilization of existing resources

  • Elimination of paper forms, automated reporting & worklists

  • Ability to easily access archive data with permissions

  • Enhanced organizational communication

  • Utilization of barcoding to allow, faster and more accurate sample analysis

  • Ability to analyze laboratory performance metrics

  • Improvements in Inventory control and purchasing

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