NRM double productivity with help from Labman

Labman developed both a bespoke liquid transfer system and a bespoke liquid dispensing system to help NRM boost productivity through automation.
12 min read
Featuring comments from
Troy BlythSoil Extraction Supervisor, NRM
Faced with over 450,000 samples to handle in a season, the team at NRM were only able to complete around 1200 samples a day. They recognised that to achieve their sample goals, they required bespoke equipment to push through the number of soils.
NRM decided to utilise Labman’s expertise to help with the volume of soils that enter their lab. Labman were able to develop a robust sample handling unit and solution dispensers.
The liquid dispensing and transfer systems provided an enormous change for NRM, as they previously filled solution pots and poured samples by hand, resulting in slow operations. Since utilising automated systems, they have been able to see an increase in productivity of over 50%.


rise in productivityby eliminating the slower processes with automated machines

NRM is the UK’s leading independent provider of agronomic and environmental waste laboratory analysis for agriculture food and environmental sectors, recognised for their technical capability and value-added service to customers. NRM wanted to continue to provide as many customers as possible the results they need to yield the best crop results. Therefore, they required a way to eliminate human error and increase efficiency, freeing up team members to work on other areas of the job.

After working with a company in Newcastle for several years, NRM decided they needed a team closer to home, that could easily assist with servicing and repairs on any new systems. They reached out to the Labman team in Jealott’s Hill to provide new bespoke equipment.

"As we are already a leading lab in our industry, keeping that status is key to our success. Having the top of the range equipment that Labman can build us is a key component to staying at the top and allowing us to produce more samples per day, with a swift turnaround of results above our competitors."
Troy Blyth Soil Extraction Supervisor, NRM

Labman developed both the Liquid Transfer System, and the Liquid Dispense System for NRM. The systems work alongside each other to complete a dispensing and sub-sampling workflow. The systems can dispense an accurate measure into a sample, complete a filtration cycle, and take a specified amount of liquid to be transported for analysis.

The sample handling units NRM had received from their previous supplier were very difficult to maintain, and with travel costs, along with the supplier prioritising new contracts rather than servicing and maintenance, this became unfeasible. While developing the bespoke systems, we were able to develop a modification which allows them to complete full tube replacement with ease. This increases productivity flow, reduces down-time and the requirement for engineer intervention. We were also able to adapt the dispensers from their previous design to increase longevity and ensure full support with a design including easily replaceable parts. Troy tells us that “the ongoing support has been greatly appreciated from emails to call outs.”

The reliability of systems created at Labman is of top priority to us, and Troy reports “the dispensers Labman built for us are very reliable and so far, no major issues have occurred. Most of the normal wear and tear issues are easily maintained by myself and my staff. We had one issue with our non-return valve drawing solution back on one of our burettes. I chose to ask Jamie from Labman to look and he was with us within half an hour of my email being sent. Jamie identified the issue immediately and even came back several days later to change further valves to be sure we didn’t have this issue with any of the other 7 burettes.”

"Labman have been excellent to work with. At every stage of the design process our input was always welcome. Labman are always looking to improve as well. If they see something that they can modify for the better, they always look to make the positive changes."
Troy Blyth Soil Extraction Supervisor, NRM

NRM’s goal is to replace their remaining old dispensers and sample handling units with the new Liquid transfer system, and Liquid dispense system, which will allow them to continue pushing the large soil numbers through.

"All I can say is that I hope we can continue to work together with new machines that help my team get through our days with as much ease as possible. The new equipment has been exactly what we have been looking for and we appreciate all the help that Labman has done for us with other equipment we have."
Troy Blyth Soil Extraction Supervisor, NRM