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This post is about boxes. In this instance, I am not referring to anything as esoteric as the mental boxes, preconceptions, and patterns of belief that can limit us. I am referring to actual boxes, specifically the boxes that ABS uses to ship cells, tissues, and other biological preparations to our clients. This may seem a rather mundane topic, but it illustrates a crucial point.

We commonly ship with FedEx. We also use a wide range of other specialty couriers, depending upon project requirements. Our experience is that less than one percent of our shipments suffer any damage and only a fraction of those do so in a way that affects the products that are being delivered. That sounds pretty good, but it is not satisfactory for us or our clients. 

ABS’ custom products have a value that goes well beyond their monetary costs. For example, we may be delivering cells from a cell line that took months to engineer or a box that may contain irreplaceable tumor or tissue samples that were donated for research. These samples should never be wasted because of a packaging issue. Likewise, our clients’ research is often held to tight timelines and cannot wait until possible replacements may become available. Therefore, boxes as well as all of the other details that go into quickly providing reliable products and services, are important. 

ABS expends the extra effort to ensure that shipping and logistics issues are avoided. We have always used high quality shipping containers, but we continuously search for ways to improve and eliminate anything that could slow our clients’ work. To that end, we sent our current shipping boxes along with those from several other suppliers to FedEx for testing under simulated shipping conditions. These tests include dropping the boxes from 30 inches multiple times, compression of the box, and measuring the effects of prolonged vibrations. More details of testing methods can be found on the FedEx website.  

After extensive testing, we found that our current boxes did not always pass all tests. Because our clients value speed and reliability for all shipments, this was unacceptable. One shipping incident could delay the critical and time-sensitive research of our clients. Therefore, we are replacing our current boxes, which have generally performed well, with improved packaging that consistently passed all shipping tests. These boxes are somewhat more expensive, but this minor cost is far less than the simple dollar value of the box contents because our goal is to speed the discovery of new therapeutics and diagnostics. 

Boxes are just one small way that we inspect, test, and seek to improve. ABS has continuous improvement programs in all facets of our work because our clients’ work matters. In that spirit, we ask for your suggestions and criticism to help us make your research more successful. 

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