SAMPLE HANDLING SYSTEM
1. A management method of a cold insulation unit that is connected to a transfer unit and comprises an opening and closing door, the management method comprising step of:
- outputting an alarm when the opening and closing number of the opening and closing door of the cold insulation unit per unit time exceeds a prespecified value.
A sample processing system is configured for analyzing, preprocessing, or carrying out other operations for a biological sample such as blood or urea. With the sample processing system, it is possible to store samples to be stored in a thermally insulated state or specimens required for accuracy control in the thermally insulated state for preventing evaporation or denaturing of the samples and specimens. Also it is possible to carry in or out the samples, rack by rack, according to necessity. Further, the sample processing system is provided with a buffer unit in a cold container having a capability for cold storage and also by accessing a sample rack at random for carrying in or out a rack with a transfer mechanism provided outside of the cold container.
- 1. A management method of a cold insulation unit that is connected to a transfer unit and comprises an opening and closing door, the management method comprising step of:
outputting an alarm when the opening and closing number of the opening and closing door of the cold insulation unit per unit time exceeds a prespecified value.
- View Dependent Claims (2)
- 3. A sample handling system comprising:
a transfer unit configured to transfer samples placed on a sample rack; a stand-by unit connected to the transfer unit and configured to temporally set the samples; and a sample processing unit connected to the transfer unit, wherein the system comprises a cold insulation unit configured to keep cold at least some of the samples set in the stand-by unit; the cold insulation unit comprises an opening and closing door, and an alarm is output when the opening and closing number of the opening and closing door of the cold insulation unit per unit time exceeds a prespecified value.
- View Dependent Claims (4)
This application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 15/831,562, filed Dec. 5, 2017, which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 14/744,117, filed Jun. 19, 2015, which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 12/121,006, filed May 15, 2008, now U.S. Pat. No. 9,097,691 and claiming priority to Japanese Utility Model Application No. 2007-003516, filed May 16, 2007, the disclosures of which are expressly incorporated herein by reference.
The present invention relates to a sample handling system for storing and refrigerating a sample such as blood or urine sampled for checking and also for delivering a specimen required for accuracy control.
In the conventional sample handling system, a large-size cold container capable of accommodating therein 1000 or more samples is generally used for storing samples required for accuracy control in the thermally insulated state. The samples are stored and taken out with the unit of a test tube by an XYZ mechanism and a hand mechanism provided in the cold container. A known transfer path buffer used has been described, for instance, in JP-A-2005-274289.
Because a large-size cold container is used for storing all samples in the refrigerated state, it takes much time to store or take out the samples. Therefore, it takes time unnecessarily to take out samples to be rechecked, and a time delay occurs in reporting a result of analysis or the like. Furthermore, a specimen required for accuracy control is manually input at a prespecified time interval. An object of the present invention is to refrigerate samples to be stored in the thermally insulated state or specimens required for accuracy control with the unit of a transfer rack or transfer racks to prevent evaporation or denaturing of the samples or specimens and also to make it possible for the samples to be carried in or out with a rack according to the necessity.
A configuration according to the present invention can be realized by installing a cold container having a thermally insulating function in a buffer unit in a sample handling and accessing sample racks at random with a transfer mechanism installed outside the cold container to carry in our out the racks. Furthermore the configuration according to the present invention can be realized by employing a small-size cold container using a Peltier unit or the like to accommodate a small number of racks in the thermally insulated state therein.
As described above, when a cold container is installed in a buffer unit, it is possible to refrigerate and store samples required for thermal insulation or specimens required for accuracy control, to prevent evaporation or denaturing of the samples or specimens, and to supply the samples or specimens rack by rack according to the necessity.
An embodiment of a system configuration according to the present invention is described below with reference to the example shown in
As described above, because random access is possible, access to a target sample can be performed quickly. As a result, because the time it takes to open or close a door of the cold container can be shortened, a temperature change within the cold container can be suppressed. In addition, such parameters as a temperature within the cold container or a cumulative time can be displayed on the screen 50. Furthermore, a graph of temperature change can be displayed thereon.
The control is performed as described below.
The cooler 21 can be mounted also on an upper surface 23 of the control container. The cooler 21 is mounted on a face of the cold container 30 to cool inside of the container.
A rack transfer mechanism 360 includes a bucket 361 capable of holding one rack and moving in the Y-axial direction, an X-axial mechanism 362 for moving together with the bucket in the Y-axial direction to transfer a rack in the bucket in the X-axial direction, and a carriage 363 mounted to the X-axial mechanism 362 for up and down movement.
The rack transfer mechanism is described in detail below with reference to
At first, the rack transfer mechanism 360 drives a Y drive motor 364 to move the bucket 361 to a stand-by position at which a rack in the cold container 30 is carried in or out. At the same time, the rack transfer mechanism 360 drives an X drive motor 365 to move the carriage 363 mounted to the X-axial mechanism 362 to a position under the sample rack mounted in the bucket 361 (
Slits 367 are provided in the bucket 361 as well as on a sample rack transfer surface of the rack buffer section 302 in the cold container so that the carriage 363 can move in the X-axial direction in the elevated state.
Then, in the state where the carriage 363 is set in the groove provided on the bottom surface of the sample rack, the rack transfer mechanism 360 drives the X drive motor 365 to transfer the sample rack from the bucket 361 to the rack buffer section 302 in the cold container (
Description of the example above is based on a case where the cold container door 31 is moved in the lateral direction when opened or closed, but the cold container door 31 may be moved in any direction or rotated so long as a space for carrying in and out a sample rack is provided. Also the description is based on a case where the sample rack is transferred from the bucket 361 to the rack buffer section 302 in the cold container, but the present invention is not limited to this configuration, and the sample rack may be moved from the rack buffer section 302 to the bucket 362.
As described above, because a slot which has a sample rack set in the stand-by state for transfer is independently provided from the bucket 361 as is the rack buffer section 302, random access to any sample rack is possible.
Furthermore the description is based on a case where a driving section is moved into a bottom portion of a sample rack for movement of the cold container door over a width of the groove, but it is possible to use such a ratchet mechanism as to press a front or rear portion of a sample rack. Even if a width of the groove causes a problem for smooth movement of the sample rack, the problem can easily be solved by providing a guide mechanism operating in synchronism to an operation of the ratchet mechanism for feeding or returning a sample rack.
Operations of the mechanisms described above are controlled by a transfer control computer having microprocessors not shown and incorporated in this system according to information or instruction from a host computer not shown in the figure. Although the cold container is controlled in temperature by a dedicated control unit, it may be controlled by the transfer control computer if the computer affords to carry out the operation.