PROLab - Software for Interlaboratory Studies - QuoData GmbH

PROLab™

Software for PT programs and collaborative studies

 

Software for PT programs and collaborative studies

 

PROLab™ is a software family for planning, organizing, performing and analyzing interlaboratory tests - that is, for both proficiency tests assessing the performance of laboratories (typically acc. to ISO 13528) and collaborative studies for the validation of analytical methods (typically acc. to ISO 5725: 1-6). Our PROLab Flyer provides an overview of this software.

 

In particular, PROLab™ provides all necessary features to meet the requirements of ISO 17043 on quality management and quality assurance for proficiency testing providers.

 

 

PROLab™ is used and recommended by some of the most important PT providers worldwide, such as:

 

 

 

It is also used in company-wide quality assurance programs such as at AngloAmerican.

 

If you are interested in L-Scores for qualitative data, please get in touch with us.

 

PROLab™ is synonymous with comprehensive quality and accuracy of interlaboratory studies. The validation process includes both automated and manual testing to ensure that reports, computations and display of charts are done so correctly. With respect to the statistical evaluation of data, PROLab™ conforms to all computational requirements outlined in the standards listed below.

 

Versions

PROLab™ Smart (open leaflet)

For evaluation acc. to either ISO 13528 or ISO 5725-2.

 

Analysing your PT or method validation data has never been easier. Obtain your results in three easy steps:

1. Define your study: participants, analytes, samples…

2. Import or enter measurement results

3. Visually compelling charts and tables are automatically generated

PROLab™ Standard (open leaflet)

For evaluation acc. to ISO 13528 and ISO 5725-2. 

 

The recommended software package for regular PT schemes and validation studies.

PROLab™ Plus (open leaflet)

Evaluation acc. to ISO 13528, ISO 5725-2 and further international standards.

 

Provides all available features. Very flexible and sophisticated report generation and charting capabilities. Used for frequent or fairly complicated PT and validation schemes.

Comparison of versions

A table of features is shown below. As print-outs our flyer and leaflets can be used.

 

PROLab™ Smart for
ISO 13528

PROLab™ Smart for ISO 5725-2

PROLab™ Standard

PROLab™ Plus

Intuitive user interface

Flexible data import

Analysis acc. to ISO 13528

 

Analysis acc. to ISO 5725-2

 

Homogeneity and stability test acc. to ISO 13528 and Harmonized Protocol

 

Equivalence Testing
of analytical methods

 

Fulfills requirements
of ISO 17043

 

Customizable reports

 

Built-in data collection tool (RingDat)

Free technical and statistical support

Workshops at favorable conditions

Display of analytical methods

 

Tools for the performance assessment
of laboratories across PT rounds

 

ISO 5725:3, ISO 5725:5,
robust nested-design analysis

 

 

Kernel density estimations

 

 

Principal Component Analysis, HORRAT Analysis
and further statistical tools

Statistics

PROLab's conception rests on the methods described in the relevant international standards and on highly advanced mathematical-statistical tools. Statistical evaluations in PROLab are performed in accordance with the following computational standards:

 

  • ISO 13528/ISO 5725-5 (the so-called "A+S algorithm")
  • ISO 5725-2 for method validation studies
  • DIN 38402 A42
  • DIN 38402 A45 (Q/Hampel)
  • Swiss Food Manual
  • Q/Huber method
  • Adaptive Horwitz function
  • ISO 5725-3 for nested PT designs

 

The following evaluation criteria are made available for laboratory assessments:

 

  • Z-Scores (also called SDI or standard deviation index)
  • Zu-Scores (ISO/TS 20612:2007)
  • En scores
  • Zeta-Scores
  • Z'-Scores
  • SSZ (Sum of Squared Z-Scores from the Harmonized Protocol)
  • RLP (Relative Laboratory Performance)
  • RSZ (Rescaled Sum of Z-Scores)
  • L-Scores for qualitative data are included in a special version of PROLab. Get in touch with us for more. 
 

Test on homogeneity

PROLab allows the performance of a homogeneity test according to the following criteria:

 

 1. ISO 13528

 2. Harmonized Protocol (IUPAC, 2006)

Evaluations across samples and tests

Following evaluation options are available in PROLab:

 

  • Z-score histograms for the visualization of trends, with options to evaluate the results across samples, laboratories, tests or measurands
  • Kernel density estimation: standardization allows the distribution of measurement values for various samples to be visualized
  • Visualization of performance over time: follow the performance quality of selected laboratories over several interlaboratory studies, with options to restrict the results under consideration to those of a single or a combination of samples and measurands

Equivalence of analytical methods

In addition, PROLab contains a module for testing the equivalence of measurement methods based on a new approach which circumvents the problems inherent in using data from proficiency tests for methods equivalence testing.

Dispersion display according to ISO 13528

Alongside the mean value, the within-laboratory standard deviation can also be considered for the assessment of laboratory performance. Accordingly, this feature provides a graphical display of both mean values and standard deviations, along with their statistical confidence intervals.

Kernel density estimation according to the Harmonized Protocol (IUPAC, 2006)

Using the so-called kernel density estimator, the density function for the distribution of the results from one selected measurand-sample-combination can be estimated. This is particularly interesting when the distribution of the measurement values differs significantly from the normal distribution. The results distribution can be displayed for all laboratories or for one selected laboratory.

HORRAT Analysis

The HORRAT trend is used to investigate the across-tests dependency of the reproducibility standard deviation on analyte concentration.

This includes a display of the HORRAT (Horwitz Ratio) values, i.e. the ratio of the empirical and the classical Horwitz standard deviations. Here as well, it is possible to choose between carrying out the analysis for one single or for all measurands.

Analysis of nested interlaboratory tests

With PROLab Plus, it is possible to perform the analysis of nested interlaboratory tests according to ISO 5725-3, with e.g. 2 times 3 measurements under different conditions (e.g. 3 replicates on 2 different days or by 2 different technicians).
This analysis yields the so-called intermediate standard deviation which usually lies somewhere between the repeatability and the reproducibility standard deviations. The intermediate standard deviation describes the within-laboratory standard deviation when the conditions of measurement are not held constant.

Data Management

With PROLab, data entry and management is both easy and flexible.

 

This is no trifling matter, considering the complexity and diversity of the data involved:

 

  • reference and measurement values and their uncertainties
  • limits such as LOD and LOQ and handling of values outside such bounds
  • measurement uncertainties
  • sample preparations, analytical methods and their categorizations
  • designations and categorizations of samples, measurands and laboratories
  • permanent and non-permanent lab codes, lab-specific sample codes: generated automatically and randomly
  • multiple options for assigned value and target standard deviation
  • etc...

 

Data entry is possible by means of a flexible data import module, for example from Excel files.

There is a configurable data input module called RingDat, which is provided with the program and which can be used by the participating labs free of cost.

 

For simplified data sharing between participants and organizers of interlaboratory studies, we also offer RingDat Online, a web interface that allows participants to import and transfer their results directly from their web browser.

 

All data can be exported in different file formats. The selection of data for evaluation and presentation of results takes place with a powerful selection module by means of which various selection modes can be set and even saved as you require.

The data management of PROLab fulfills the requirements of ISO 17043 – for example a backup function and a log file are included.

Reports and Charts

PROLab offers a multitude of charts and tables for method validation (MV), proficiency testing (PT) and external quality assurance programs (EQA or QAP). This tab lists them based on when they appear in a typical workflow of organizing a round.

 

Preparation stage

  • Test item lists and labels, with and without bar codes; the user can either focus on test items for homogeneity assessments, or create/print all.
  • Homogeneity assessment: reports with very basic statistical data, or with extensive prose, with or without graphical visualization of the results. Supported general standards are the harmonized protocol and ISO 13528/17043; more specialized standards are supported upon request.
  • Stability assessment: similarly to the test item homogeneity assessment, both a purely data-based and a prose-centered version of reports exist. Supported general standards are the harmonized protocol and ISO 13528/17043
  • PROLab can produce lists of all laboratories or analysts that ever participated in any scheme. These can be used for marketing efforts for an upcoming round. Both email and paper-centered campaigns can be organized directly from with PROLab

 

 

Participant registration stage

  • Up-to-date participant lists with user-defined columns can be produced at any time
  • A new participant can be added at any time – even when the first participants already submitted their measurement results
  • Optionally: web-based self-registration 

 

 

Sample shipment stage

  • PROLab can track and report on order numbers, tax numbers, test item shipment dates per laboratory or analyst.
  • Address lists to speed up shipping
  • Package lists (who ordered what)
  • on RingDat Online, the organizer can track who paid online what when in a payment report
  • Address stickers for reliable and quick shipment

 

 

Data entry stage

  • Report of measurement test results (many different layouts and levels of detail possible)
  • Report on participants who have not yet submitted data (including an automatic email reminder with customizable text)

 

 

Value assignment, final reports and certificates

  • Chart and/or table on assigned values and their origin (e.g. reference or consensus) 
  • Chart and/or table on proficiency testing standard deviations and tolerance limits
  • Personalized certificates – many different layouts and contents possible
  • Participant assessment: who was (un)successful for which measurands/analytes/tasks

    Chart and/or table on scores: per lab, per analyst, per country, per sample/test item, per measurand/analyte etc.

  • Chart and/or table on Combination scores: e.g. overall success across the whole range of weights/concentrations/matrix types etc. to assess influence of systematic and/or random effects
  • In place of the lab name or number, a random code can be used within all reports and charts
  • Statistical outlier analysis reports
  • Reports on preparation steps that participants reported
  • Reports on measurement methods that participants used
  • Graphical assessment across replicates or samples, e.g. Youden plot, Lischer plot, lab-internal standard deviation vs. lab mean, principal component analysis
  • Histograms of either measured values or scores
  • Checks on the statistical data distribution: Shapiro-Wilk, c², normal plot, visual comparison, kernel density estimation etc.
  • Data analysis across rounds: participant time series, assigned value trends, proficiency testing standard deviation trends etc.
  • Questions and answers (the organizer can ask participants for general information, influencing factors, organizational topics, feedback etc. and optionally include a list of answers in the final report)
  • All parts of reports can be merged into single PDFs, which can automatically be sent to participants via email. If chosen by the organizer, these PDFs can all be different, so that they contain personal “your result” markers helping participants to find their data in the crowd.

 

 

General reports

  • All actions within the software are logged to ease audits, problematic changes and disaster recovery
  • List of backups, times, software users and backup destinations
  • List of previously generated reports

 

 

Each table offers many options to PROLab users:

  • The number and type of columns can be set;
  • The width of each column can be set
  • Fonts and colors can by changed
  • All tables can be exported as CSV, Excel, HTML, PDF, HTML, RTF (supported by Microsoft Word), and several graphics formats.
  • Direct export to currently open Word document
  • Colors and other formatting is kept intact in the export file (if the file format allows)
  • Reports, labels and stickers can be created from sketch by use of powerful editors
  • Especially for labels, many paper formats and sticker vendors are supported
  • All tables can be transposed on screen, for export and for printing
  • All tables have a search function
  • For large tables, printing can be wrapped to span over several sheets

 

 

The software allows users customize charts in many ways:

  • Customizable templates for charts, with the ability to input program specific information such as fonts, program name, logo, axis titles, number formats, text, etc.
  • Users are able to save these templates for later use.
  • Change scaling, colors, units of many chart elements
  • Charts can be exported as JPEG, PNG, BMP, SVG, EMF and WMF and clipboard
  • Easy printing with user-defined paper margins

 

Services

Inclusive Services

Our software comes with a multitude of extra services, most of them being free of cost. 

 

1. PROLab Customer Area

Our PROLab Customer Area allows users to get in contact with software support and other PROLab users. It’s available free of charge for all users.

 

The customer area has three parts. The PROLab Forum allows for communication between users while the confidential issues section provides a channel for private communication with QuoData; for instance, send attachments with measurement data and reports without giving access to other users.

 

In the Updates section, users can review the changelog from recent updates to PROLab.

 

 PROLab Customer Area

 

2. Support by Phone & Email

For help getting started or troubleshooting, rely on the dedicated free hotline for PROLab or free email support, available Monday to Friday.

 

Contact us now:

Jens-Uwe Helling:

+49 (0)351 4028867-78

helling@quodata.de

 

3. Regular Updates

Expect new features and update rollouts twice a year, available for every PROLab user. All updates are free of cost to users and include new features, bug fixes and resolution of individual issues from PROLab users.

 

Apart from major updates, QuoData provides minor updates even more frequently.  Already a PROLab user? Updating your version of PROLab is simple: Just access the Help Menu in PROLab. Then select the option for “Program update”. The installation of the new update requires just a few clicks. 

 

4. Validated Software

ISO 17043 accreditation mandates the use of validated software by providers of proficiency tests.

 

The PROLab validation process includes both automated and manual testing to ensure that reports, computations and display of charts are done so correctly. With respect to the statistical evaluation of data, PROLab conforms to all computational requirements outlined in ISO 13528:2015, ISO 5725: 1-6, DIN 38402 and the Harmonized Protocol. Software validation is performed on a regular basis and QuoData can provide a validation certificate and/or a full report of validation for accreditation purposes to its customers. 

 

Additional Services 

1. Workshops

We hold a number of workshops throughout the year covering software usage, statistical background information and relevant standards. In addition to our regular English and German workshops, we offer in-house training in German, English, French or Spanish. To arrange a workshop on-site, get in touch with us. Workshops are open to users and non-users alike. Favorable conditions are offered for users. 

 

 Workshop registration

 

2. Helpdesk Packages for one-on-one technical support, statistical support or customization

Amend your corporate PROLab license to include a help-desk package, available to meet different requirements (technical, statistical or customizations) and budgets.

 

  • Technical Support and Hotline

For those requiring extra assistance getting started, we offer personalized support by email or phone (Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm CET). Technical helpdesks go above and beyond the included free tech support hours included in every PROLab license to cover all questions regarding installation, data management, basic functionalities and troubleshooting.

 

  • Statistical Support

Need expert advice for designing a study or evaluating data? Statistical support is available by email or phone (Monday to Friday, 9am – 5 pm CET)as part of a helpdesk package.

 

This support includes:

  • Assistance in the design, performance and analysis of proficiency tests and method validation studies as well as interlaboratory studies involving qualitative test results
  • Instruction in the background statistics relevant for proficiency testing and/or method validation studies
  • Assistance in the application of the various statistical techniques described e.g. in ISO 17043, ISO 13528, ISO 5725 and other ISO standards
  • Support for accreditation according to ISO 17025 and ISO 17043
  • Instruction regarding advanced statistical techniques such as nested design or factorial design

 

For more information regarding any one of our helpdesks, please get in touch with us:

 

 Contact us

 

3. Customization (fee based)

Adapt PROLab to your needs for a fully integrated workflow. Customization of PROLab is carried out by our team of software developers. Customizations can include the generation of special report templates, implementation of new evaluation methods or the implementation of novel charts.

 

Customizations are charged at an hourly rate depending on the complexity of the work involved and the benefit for the PROLab community.

 

Customer Feedback

Curious as to how our customers use PROLab for their PTs?

 

Al Borg Laboratories uses PROLab for their medical PTsAl Borg Laboratories established in 1998 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is the largest chain of private laboratories in the Gulf Region with branches in Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. They provide a wide range of clinical and diagnostic tests for clients including commercial and public hospitals, clinics, banks, airlines, pharmaceutical companies and insurance agencies.

 

Al Borg Medical Laboratories established an Interlaboratory Quality Assessment Surveys (IQAS) Program to enable laboratories to compare their performance against one another and to assure the reliability of test results while at the same time, satisfying the Saudi national accreditation program (CBAHI).

 

Before making the switch to PROLab in 2012, Al Borg Medical Laboratories began the search for something more comprehensive than Excel for the evaluation of interlaboratory comparison studies. PROLab offered ease of use, adherence to international standards and the availability of different statistical calculations for interlaboratory tests.

 

PROLab is an all-in-one solution designed for interlaboratory study providers in the carrying out of interlaboratory studies: from planning & organizing, to performing and analysis. What made PROLab stand out from other alternatives and Excel for Al Borg Laboratories was its ability to work with outliers, its ability to perform complete calculations and its visually appealing graphics. 

 

QuoData customized the PROLab software to suit the specific PT style of Al Borg Laboratories including adding the option to upload the Total Allowable Error (TAE) directly, instead of assigning separate reference standard deviations for the upper and lower limit. 

 

PROLab provided a solution apart from Excel that combines the following major activities into one program:  graphical presentation of data, the summary of round results, and a database of participating laboratories. The switch to PROLab has also meant faster and easier calculations and more options for the import of participant lab results.

CPCB: User of PROLab since 1999

CPCB in India uses PROLab for planning interlaboratory studiesThe Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) oversees both the prevention and control of water and air pollution in India in addition to providing technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Quality management plays a large role in the day-to-day work of the CPCB particularly in regards to air quality. Quality data is regularly analyzed and submitted to various government bodies for further use.

 

The CPCB began using PROLab since 1999 after struggling with the limited Excel functions for filtering data, handling large data sets and graphically presenting results.  Importantly, the CPCB required software that could handle a huge data base, provided more advanced applications (such as the partial automation of actions) and could automate report preparation and printing. To help everyone at the CPCB get on-board with PROLab, QuoData provided in-house training and a workshop on the basics of PROLab. Now, CPCB carries out its PT program with over 250 environmental laboratories around India.

 

PROLab has not only made an impact on the CPCB, but it is also appreciated by their participant laboratories with its adherence to ISO international standards and excellent presentation of statistically analyzed and interpreted data. PROLab has also allowed the CPCB to steadily increase the number of participating laboratories. The greater statistical capacity of PROLab means that the CPCB can expect to grow its client basis by 50 labs per year.  

 

Why does CPCB continue to use PROLab?

  • Easy to use with little effort and user-friendly
  • Easy to get started with
  • Internationally-approved and adheres to ISO guidelines, thus participating laboratories are highly satisfied.

PROLab in large-scale environmental PTs

"We have been using the PROLab software for over a year now. My job has become so much easier thanks to this software! Our organization administers large scale inter-laboratory tests for environmental analytical laboratories throughout the world. The PROLab software has made our data analysis more efficient and useful compared to any other software we tried in the past. It also provides us with fantastic tables and charts which can be easily incorporated into our reports. But what really sets PROLab apart is the incredible customer service provided which is second to none. Any questions or concerns that I have, regardless of how simple or technical they may be, are promptly answered in a very professional and easy to understand manner. I would highly recommend purchasing this software to anyone!"

 

- Kyle S., Canada (Company name withheld for confidentiality)
 

PROLab for use in testing materials

Serbian Institute for Testing Materials used PROLab for planning its interlab studiesThe Serbian Institute for Testing Materials (IMS Institute) is a leader in research and testing for civil engineering materials in construction design, housing development, prestressing systems, construction material technology as well as thermal and hydroelectric power plant equipment. The IMS actively contributes to some of the largest construction projects in both Serbia and abroad. 

 

The IMS had been looking for a powerful PT tool that would make it easier to meet international quality standards. In the past, the IMS previously used Excel with add-ons and then tested both Tableau Reader and StatCalc, which were deemed either too complicated was too limited in its functions.

 

The IMS decided on PROLab for its fast and thorough results, its usefulness in preparing for PT participation and its opportunity for development. PROLab helped ensure compliance with international PT requirements and surpassed more common products in its range of capabilities.

 

What are the two biggest reasons the IMS Institute of Serbia recommends PROLab?

 

  1. Excellent visualization of data
  2. Produces results that everyone can understand
 

PT is mining and metals

Tramecon uses PROLab for analytical quality assuranceTramecon offers over 30 years’ experience in analytical laboratory services in new and existing mining operations within Sub-Saharan Africa. They provide assistance for the base metal industries in both entrepreneurial ventures and downstream beneficiation projects for the development and optimization of hydrometallurgical processes; in addition to the ferrous, non-ferrous and precious metal industries. Tramecon delivers both fit-for-purpose solutions and consulting services in lab management, the design and implementation of LIMS, project management and consulting in the implementation of ISO 17025.  

 

Tramecon uses PROLab for interlaboratory [proficiency] testing, as a direct result of finding excel spreadsheets too laborious and full of errors, too many steps needing human intervention and a limited number of statistical formulas. PROLab is used to educuate their customers and to get a better idea on how to benchmark their laboratories.  In addition to PROLab being internationally recognized, it fills a market gap in PT software that’s statistically superior and easy to use.

 

Here’s what else they have to say about PROLab:

 

How hard or easy was it to get started with PROLab?:

Even with the demo, I was able to use the software with minimum intervention from the PROLab team. It was fulfilling to both user and provider to not how simple it was to use, especially taking into account that I am located in South Africa. Additionally, the inter-personal relations that were established with the PROLab staff were like “love at first sight” moment – they were professional, and knowledgeable. In addition, the software is easy to use and comes with comprehensive instructions.
 

Did PROLab help you overcome challenges that you had before?:

PROLab helped us buildup good business opportunities with our customers. By mentioning PROLab, people gain confidence in our products – we have fewer customer complaints, we can generate our reports at a faster turnaround that previously, and the graphs and data manipulation are just a fingertip away. We have the ability to play around with the data our clients need.
 

How is PROLab different than other alternatives you tried or considered?:

PROLab has more functionalities than simple excel spreadsheets. The cost is also fair for the market. With other products you buy the whole package and use only 40% of the capabilities. The rest are expensive add-ons.
 

How has PROLab helped you achieve your business goals?:

With PROLab, we have grown the business and gained recognition accreditation bodies. Now we have the opportunity to interact with laboratories seeking accreditation: we started off with the Chrome commodity and now we have over six commodities in Iron, Manganese, Copper, PGM’s, Nickel and Cobalt. We are still expanding.
 

What’s the single biggest reason you would recommend PROLab?:

PROLab offers world class technical assistance with instantly positive results - constant updates and improvements of the product, live support via skype. You can never go wrong!
 

Material R&D Quality Programs:

Elkem uses PROLab for interlaboratory studiesElkem is one of the world’s leading companies in the environment-friendly production of materials. Its principal products are silicon, special alloys for the foundry industry, carbon and micro silica.

 

Elkem runs a number of interlaboratory studies in research and development for quality assurance purposes. Since 2013, Elkem has been using PROLab for its quality programs.

 

Here’s what one of their R&D Engineers had to say about how PROLab changed their QA program:

For the first time since I joined the company 5 years ago the interlaboratory comparison program could finally meet its budget goals and reporting deadlines. Now it is really a piece of cake and we can consider different improvements of the program rather than muddling through from day to day.”

 

Here are Elkem’s 3 top reasons for selecting PROLab:

  • Making the workflow for proficiency and interlaboratory testing more effective
  • Reduction of the cost of running interlaboratory comparisons
  • Increasing the flexibility of Elkem's interlaboratory program

 

What does Elkem say is the biggest advantage of making the switch to PROLab?

“It’s much more flexible than Excel Macros and includes excellent possibilities for presentation of results!”

 

Above all, Elkem’s R&D team recommends PROLab for its effectiveness.

Add-ons

Get even more out of PROLab

In addition to the many functionalities already built into PROLab, there are a number of supplementary Add-ons to give users even more possibilities when using our software for the planning, performing and evaluating  interlaboratory studies.   

 

RingDat Online: Fully integrated online data-entry  for PT participants

RingDat Online is a web-based interface between organizers of PT and their participants which allows for the easy exchange of lab results and information online, while automatically syncing with PROLab Standard or Plus. 

See more >

 

Database Translations: Translate reports in a flash

Database Translations is an additional feature for PROLab designed to help users who require reports in multiple languages. Database Translations allows users to duplicate participant reports in variety of languages with just the click of a button.

See more >

 

Merged Reports: Compile reports and documents into one easy attachment & maintain personalized details

Merged Reports is a supplementary feature available for the PROLab family of software products that allows organizers to prepare and send compiled reports to multiple laboratories while retaining specialized and personalized content from each laboratory. Combine report templates, Word, Excel and PDF files with just a few mouse clicks. 

See more >