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Issue no. 2, Jan. 26, 2021


Your Success is Our Success

Analytical Resource Lab’s understands how critical turnaround times are to your success. We recognize that products sitting on the warehouse floor—waiting for analytical results—is frustrating and very costly. For this reason, our guiding directive has always been “doing it right, on time, every time.”


Doing It Right on Time, Every Time: Demystifying Turnaround Times

When you submit a sample for analysis under a particular turnaround time, you expect your laboratory partner (ARL) to make every effort to meet this schedule. So, how are turnaround times measured, and why are results sometimes “late”? This article is intended to demystify turnaround times (TAT’s).

Let’s explore how we can work together to mitigate delays and risk:

  1. ARL’s On-time Rating Is Greater Than 97.7%!

    We are very proud of our on-time rating, but we continually strive to do better.

  2. Microbiology Testing Is Measured in Calendar Days

    Samples submitted for routine microbiological testing (Complete Micro Profiles by USP 2021/2022 and 61/62) constitute a large percentage of the testing that we perform at ARL. For more than 21 years, we have set up these samples the same day they are received by scheduling swing and night shift microbiology teams. Routine micro is measured in calendar days. Once the testing has begun, these living, breathing organisms do not care what day of the week it is; they just do their thing 7 days a week, and so must we. Please note that calendar days are measured in 24-hour periods. The day we received the sample is Day Zero; the next day is Day 1.

  3. Chemistry Testing Is Measured in Business Days

    The turnaround times for samples received for analytical testing, such as HPLC, GC, ICP, etc., are measured in business days. Chemistry tests require the direct attention of an analyst throughout the testing process. For this reason, analyses are scheduled and batched so that they can run most efficiently. This efficiency allows us to reduce consumable costs and equipment usage times, which allows ARL to offer the most competitive pricing. Good efficiency equals quick TAT’s and cost savings.

    Our goal in the chemistry labs is to schedule analyses in such a way that the testing portion of the analysis is completed within a timeframe that allows sufficient time to conduct follow up testing, if necessary. This further allows time for quality review and verification of accuracy and method suitability. Please note that business days are measured in 24-hour periods, Monday to Friday. The day we received the sample is Day Zero, the next day is Day 1.

  4. Special Projects and Samples Sent to Outside Labs

    The TAT for special projects, such as stabilities, method validations, suitabilities, or testing that we con not perform in-house, are discussed with our partners on a case-by-case basis according to current workloads, equipment availability, and personnel.

So why are results sometimes late?

ARL is committed to “doing it right, on time, every time.” However, sometimes there are issues that arise that do not allow for on-time reporting. Here are the most common reasons:

  • Wrong sample submitted

    Wrong Sample. On occasion, partners submit the wrong sample, and we are only able to identify this issue after we run the initial testing, and our Out-Of-Specification investigations (OOS) is conducted. We get it. We all make mistakes on occasion. No worries. We work the problem, and move forward.

  • Unsuitable method for the sample matrix

    Unsuitable Matrix. Unfortunately, running analytical tests is not as simple as putting a product in a machine and pushing a button. (How we wish it were that simple.) Analytical chemistry is as much an art form as it is a true science. Filtering through complex matrices to find the analyte of interest takes real skill and experience. We make every effort to validate our methods across diverse products and matrices, but there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” method. As a third-party contract lab, we literally see thousands of diverse and unique products every month. Each one is tested and scrutinized individually, one-by-one. Sometimes, these steps take longer than anticipated.

  • Detection of suspect positive pathogens and analyses that are Out of Spec (OOS)

    Suspect positive pathogens. We learn in Microbiology 101 that microorganisms are living, breathing organisms that adapt to their environment and strive to survive. Interpretation of literally in-numerable species of organisms and identifying the pathogen of interest can be  challenging, since many organisms may initially look very similar to one another. As our highly skilled microbiologists read and interpret results, proper protocol dictates additional steps to verify what they are seeing, and smelling (yuck!). These steps take time, even days, to complete. While we sincerely regret the delay in testing, our integrity and dedication to “doing it right” is our guiding force. Please know that if your results take longer than expected, it is only to protect YOU and mitigate YOUR risks.

    Note: In February 2021, we will be announcing some very exciting news and rolling out publications regarding rapid pathogens testing by PCR. This is a joint venture between ARL and BioMerieux. This technology will help us reduce micro turnaround times even further!

  • Incorrect specifications, or specifications not provided

    Specifications not provided or incorrect. When testing products for a particular analyte, knowing your manufacturing specifications for that analyte is very important. Label claims are not specifications because they do not account for overages and degradation rates. So, please let us know what you are expecting so that we know where to go looking. Products need to be diluted and prepared for analysis and, if we are “shooting in the dark,” we may have to retest the sample multiple times or carry out an unnecessary OOS investigation, all of which are wastes of time. Accurate specifications will greatly reduce delays in testing.

  • Instrumentation or analyst error

    Instrument and analyst error. What can we say? Sometimes we encounter instrumentation or analyst issues, which cause delay. We never shy away from this, and we always take ownership. We sincerely ask for your understanding.

How Can YOU Help US Help YOU?

As a true partnership, ARL’s role is to help you mitigate risks and provide timely, critical data, so that you can safely push your products to market. We love it when you succeed. We equally desire to protect you and your business. If a product doesn’t meet your quality objectives, then it doesn’t meet ours. Period! We will never “pencil-whip” a result, “dry-lab”, or otherwise jeopardize our integrity. To this end, the three most important aspects of our partnership are 1) communication, 2) communication, and 3) you guessed it, communication. If you know your product has had issues in testing at other labs or is a new and novel concept, let us know. Let’s talk about it. Let’s explore real options, together. 

Our partnerships, quality, sample management, analytical, and executive teams are committed to doing everything in our power to help you be successful. We are a customer service company. Lab work is our widget; we work very hard to be very good at it. First and foremost, however, we are your trusted partner. Let’s talk!

Talk to Us


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