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Yeastman improves quality

This question and answer session is with Neva Parker, whose job duties at White Labs Inc. includes developing the new computer program called "Yeastman." In the following interview, Neva explains how the new program will improve quality control and other factors for customers.

1. Who developed the program and how long have they been working on it? A local San Diego tech company, Inteligro, developed the software with specifications given to them by White Labs. Over the past year, they have been working with Chris White, Lisa White, and myself to make the program fully functional and efficient for our applications.

2. Please explain how the system works. Yeastman: Yeast Environment – Availability, Scheduling, and Tracking Manager. We use barcodes in order to follow a particular strain of yeast through its entire culturing process, from freeze to packaged product. The software automatically pushes the yeast through each step of the process upon completion of the previous step, with the help of a PDA that scans the container barcodes and sends the information to the program. Once each process is completed, the yeast inventory is also maintained with Yeastman.

3. What are the benefits to customers and to the lab? Customers are able to benefit greatly from the use of this system. The yeast being cultured for a client’s order can be tracked at each step of testing and growth, from which yeast is being transferred to which container, to who performed the transfer, to when the yeast will be ready for shipping.

Since there is a barcode system in place, it will virtually eliminate human error. Customers will have the capability of knowing where their yeast is in the production process. The customer will also be able to receive a report that summarizes all tests results at each separate stage of testing. As for the lab, again, the program will leave little room for error and will eliminate the paperwork and paper trail system that is currently in place. All of the information on a yeast strain will be one click away. Yeastman will also aid in the scheduling of daily tasks in lab, as the program already has each process in its database and can flag a lab tech as to what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. This will also give us a better way to update our yeast inventory using a real-time method. With that, Yeastman will be connected to our current sales programs allowing our sales staff to make yeast reservations directly, without contacting the lab staff to see what will be "available" on a certain date. Sales will be able to follow the yeasts in production and know when a strain will be available and be ready for packaging, eliminating the middleman. This makes Yeastman a particularly useful tool.

4. Are other labs creating similar programs? We are currently the first and only yeast-manufacturing laboratory that we know of, developing and implementing this barcode tracking system. Yeastman was unveiled during the World Brewing Congress, where members of the IGB (Institute and Guild of Brewing) visited White Labs and were able to get a firsthand look at how the program functioned. Members were very excited at the potential of this system and what it will enable us to do for the brewing industry. We are very proud of this fact and hope to better serve our clientele by providing them with more assurance on the products they receive from White Labs.

In future issues we will track the progress of the Yeastman program.