Developing Covid-19 swab test traceability labelling in record time

Developing Covid-19 swab test traceability labelling in record time

‘In difficult times with considerable constraints to normal ways of working, agility is vital. When DRW needed traceability labels to support Covid-19 swab testing in hospitals, the Piroto team, including partners and suppliers,  pulled together to get the job done in record time’’   

The Customer

Our customer, Diagnostics for the Real World (DRW), provides easy-to-use diagnostic equipment for conditions such as HIV, that can be used in the field. Their focus is on accurate and rapid testing at the point where health care is given, so overcoming logistical difficulties associated with remote destinations.

In order to provide a complete end to end process, test samples need to be traced with 100% accuracy. Traceability labelling ensures that test samples and patients are matched.

The Customer’s Challenge

DRW recognised that their SAMBA II diagnostics equipment could play a vital role in testing Covid-19 samples. The beauty of the SAMBA II, is that it can process samples very quickly, offering NHS staff and other keyworkers a vital while-you-wait test service.

Piroto had previously designed and manufactured laminated record cards with integrated labels for DRW to work specifically with their SAMBA II equipment. The Covid-19 swab test samples however, required a different sized test tube so the traceability cards needed to be redesigned quickly.

Our Approach

Since the new order of sample traceability cards was needed quickly, Piroto co-ordinated an urgent response team. In discussion with DRW, it was agreed that the best approach would be to modify the current design of the SAMBA II sample cards. The existing traceability system was tried and tested in harsh conditions so it made sense to use this as a starting point.

The technical team redesigned the trace cards in line with the requirements of the Covid-19 test procedure. They liaised with two material suppliers to ensure that we could source the full quantity of label material needed to complete the order. An urgent request was also put to our rotary die supplier who acted quickly to manufacture the new cutter.

What we delivered

By working closely with both the customer and supplier we were able to deliver the first batch of Covid-19 testing cards in just 5 days.

The record card specification was complex as it needed to perform several important functions. The record card needed to house the test tube containing the swab sample,  which was achieved by designing a unique die cut fold-out section in the laminated card. Whilst cards can be stored flat, once in use, the fold-out section can be popped out to accommodate the sample vial.

The laminated card includes a QR code and a unique variable data number code for patient tracking. The card also incorporates three peel-off piggy back labels, bearing the same unique number. The integrated labels are peeled off by the lab technician and attached to the vial holding the swab sample and to the patient’s record, to ensure full and accurate traceability.

The impact on the customer’s business

Thanks to the collaboration and urgency of everyone involved, DRW was able to contribute to the Covid-19 testing in hospitals in the UK. Specific benefits include:

  • utilising Pirotos excellent relationships with label material suppliers and our rotary die manufacturer, we were able to meet the customers urgent deadline
  • recognising the urgency, the Piroto team worked together to specify and manufacture the laminated test cards in record time, so helping our customer in their important job of providing rapid Covid-19 tests to medical staff and keyworkers.


Image credit : @CUH