Lab supply ordering and management, oh what fun. Our lab has experimented with Excel, emails, and handwritten notes to keep track of ordering, but as you might guess, each method has had its own pitfalls and subsequent headaches.
Enter Quartzy.com. I was recently invited to test the service, and Quartzy appears to be a viable solution for ordering and tracking lab supplies. Quartzy is paid by major scientific vendors to host their product catalogs, and in turn (and almost unbelievably) is free for its users. The site boasts is it used by “100,000 scientists in over 30,000 labs worldwide,” and for good reason.
Quartzy offers a suite of useful features. Under the “Order Requests” tab, lab members can use a simple webform to request supplies. Even better, if the vendor’s catalog is hosted on the site, you can select an item from a dropdown list of catalog numbers and all other fields are populated automatically. If the catalog is not hosted, there is an option to manually input information. There are also “Date Required” by and “Grant ID” fields to designate order deadlines and funding sources.
Order requests are forwarded via email notification to the person(s) in charge of ordering. For NC State users, you cannot actually order through Quartzy, but the service does create easy, complete order lists (much better than sticky notes). There may be an option to order through Quartzy at other universities, but that is something you’ll need to check on yourself.
Once an order is placed, items can be marked as “Ordered,” and once items have been received they can be marked as “Received.” Items locations can even be recorded, which is especially useful for labs like ours that are split between multiple rooms and buildings.
Received items are automatically added to the lab’s inventory. Alternatively, existing inventory can be input directly. This simplifies reordering significantly – all you have to do is check a box by the desired item and hit “Request.” No more looking up catalog numbers a second, third, or fourth time. You can even review items under the inventory tab.
In an effort to boost usage, Quartzy representatives will upload order and inventory information for you – all you need to do is send an email with the list.
There is a Documents tab, which can be used for protocols and product manuals, and an Equipment Sign Up tab which is exactly for what you would expect, scheduling time on lab equipment.
Finally, lab members can post group updates and files to a Quartzy Dashboard, and there is a Groups tab if you belong to more than one research group.
Quartzy is easy to use and each Quartzy page has an associated ‘How To’ video on how to utilize features on each page. Quartzy representatives are also easily accessible for answering questions and will give free tutorials to individuals or even entire lab groups. I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of this site’s functionality and hope that you’ll check it out for yourself.