The importance of clear labelling in the field

When DrillIt Logs wanted to enhance the already high standards of accuracy required for the labelling of its soil samples, the company adopted Toshiba TEC cutting-edge technology.

 DrillIt Logs can take up to 30 samples a day on an average site

DrillIt Logs can take up to 30 samples a day on an average site

DrillIt Logs undertakes a wide variety of geotechnical engineering projects including soil investigation and analysis for environmental monitoring, permitting and health impact assessments. The work that the company carries out is important, as one of the main drivers for soil sampling is to avoid the possibility of significant harm being caused by the presence of contamination. However, the accurate assessment of potential contamination within a site can also affect its future use, predict the cost of possible remediation and determine resale value.

The locations in the UK at which DrillIt Logs' engineers conduct their work are usually wet and muddy, so the traditional way of manually filling in hard copy forms and soil sample labels often resulted in documentation getting covered in mud and thus becoming illegible. This, combined with the problems often associated with deciphering engineers' handwriting, led to the company to develop a software-based solution that could save time, improve accuracy and replace the old-fashioned manual process.

"Our software is loaded on to a tablet, which can be taken on site," explained Rob Clews, DrillIt Logs' managing director. "Soil description data is then inputted in accordance with BS 5930 [UK code of practice], which provides a consistent framework for site investigation and contains the guidance allowing the standardisation of material description. Our system allows rich descriptions to be added that are based on keywords, while a cloud backup system means that files can always be accessed by our engineers and clients in real time."

With up to 30 samples per day being taken on an average site, manual label completion, processing and sticking to soil sample bags often took up to two hours - a situation that Clews felt was unsustainable. He was determined to improve matters. "I'd read about Toshiba TEC's portable labelling technology, so contacted the company to see what options were available that could work seamlessly with our software, in order to provide a comprehensive solution for labelling and logging pre-construction soil samples."

Toshiba TEC's state-of-the-art technology is already widely used in a diverse range of applications throughout the industrial and construction sectors and the company understands the pressure organisations like DrillIt Logs are under to manage costs and improve efficiencies. After explaining his requirements to a Toshiba TEC representative, the company presented Clews with a proposal, based around the use of its B-EP2-GH32 Bluetooth enabled wireless portable printers.

Becky Viccars, marketing manager at Toshiba TEC, explained: "The B-EP2-GH32 2in portable devices offer big printer technology in the smallest possible package. Designed to provide ultimate reliability on the move, they utilise high endurance lithium-ion battery technology to ensure many hours of operation. With a clear backlit LCD screen, the devices are wifi enabled and come with USB 2.0 supplied as standard. Ruggedness is vital for portable handheld products and the in-built rubber corners can easily withstand being dropped on to concrete from heights up to 1.8m - something that is extremely useful in the type of locations that DrillIt Logs operates in."

Once the relevant fields have been completed on the tablet, the B-EP2-GH32 quickly produces high quality, accurate labels, with the flexibility of many different label sizes. Each label clearly shows information such as location, driller, project number, client, date, type and soil depth, which can be easily read once the soil samples get to the laboratory.

Previously, the manual handwriting process could only be completed at the end of the working day and, as well as being a time consuming and laborious process, there was also the possibility of inaccuracies due to the fact that each sample, label and log needed to be matched up. Needless to say, any errors could lead to significant logistical problems and result in unhappy clients.

As well as saving around 1-1/2 hours per day, the use of the Toshiba TEC technology reduces the possibility of inaccurate reporting and avoids having to re-type all the information manually into a programme and then match samples to the log. Labels can be printed and affixed straight away with no loss of information and sent for geological analysis. The barcode on the log matches the barcode on the sample, thereby streamlining the process.

The use of Toshiba TEC's printing and labelling technology has radically improved the way that DrillIt Logs conducts its soil sampling activities. "Toshiba TEC understood our needs and were very easy to do business with. It wasn't simple to find a device that would be able to withstand the rigours of what we do, but I'm delighted to say that the B-EP2-GH32s we currently have out in the field have exceeded all our expectations. They are reliable, robust, easy to use and make a major contribution to enabling our unique way of working to be even more effective," concluded Clews.