TubeTAG: A significant advance in sorbent tube informatics


Associating data with thermal desorption (TD) tubes in the past has relied on manually recording tube serial numbers. Bar code technology has proved difficult to apply to TD tubes because the high temperatures required limit the lifetime of bar code labels. Moreover, bar codes cannot be programmed to record sample specific information (e.g. sorbent type, sampling time and date, etc.). Markes TubeTAG represents a revolutionary advance in sorbent tube informatics.


TubeTAG is a read/write programmable device (RFID tag) that is attached to a sorbent tube to record sample information. The product consists of RFID tag assemblies for attaching onto individual sorbent tubes, a tag reader/writer (TAGSCRIBE) and software.


Transit tagging


TubeTAG provides a sophisticated and cost-effective solution to failsafe tracking of tubes in transit during field monitoring projects. Individual RFID tags are attached to every tube in a batch and programmed with relevant information (e.g. tube number, sorbent type, project identifier) prior to dispatch. Once that batch of tagged tubes reaches the field, additional sample collection details such as monitoring location, sampling start and end times can be entered onto each tag.


When the sampled tubes are received back into the laboratory after monitoring, all of the stored information can be downloaded easily from the tags and entered into the laboratory’s information management system. The tags can then be conveniently removed from the sampled tubes using a special tool as they are placed into the desorber for TD-GC(MS) analysis.


Tube tags are re-usable many hundreds of times (almost indefinitely). Once they have been removed from a batch of tubes and their memory cleared, they are immediately available for the next field monitoring exercise. In this way one RFID tag can be shared between several sampling tubes. Typical costs work out as low as 25 cents per tube per monitoring cycle.




Information is entered onto the tube tags via a PC-controlled, battery-operated ‘TAGSCRIBE’ . The same device is used both in the lab prior to dispatch and to enter sample collection information in the field. TAGSCRIBE is also used to retrieve information from the tags once the tubes are received back into the lab after field monitoring.


Tube compatibility


A range of tags is available for sorbent tubes of the following types:

  • 3.5-inch (89 mm) long x ¼-inch (6.4 mm) O.D. in stainless steel, Silcosteel™ and glass
  • 4.5-inch (115 mm), glass Depot Area Air Monitoring System (DAAMS) tubes with 6 mm ends; both standard and high flow versions

TubeTAG is also compatible with Markes SafeLok™ tubes

TubeTAG Software

TubeTAG software allows the user a high degree of flexibility in operation. There are administrator and user levels for data access, extensive administrator defined editing options and built in data protection functionality.


Information entered onto the tag in the laboratory prior to field sampling typically includes:

  • The tube serial number
  • Sorbent details and packing date
  • Date of shipping to the field
  • Project name
  • Billing code

Typical parameters recorded on the tag during field sampling include:

  • Monitoring location or reference
  • Sampling method (diffusive or pumped)
  • Uptake rate or flow rate information
  • Sample start and end times

Whenever a tag is read or written to, a file is created which can be imported into a local database or integrated with other relevant information as part of a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS).

Convenience of TubeTAG

TubeTAG is a unique tracking tool for thermal desorption tubes. It offers particular advantages for applications in which monitoring data is linked to human health – occupational hygiene, environmental air monitoring, counter-terrorism, chemical process monitoring, etc.


The numerous benefits include:

  • Fail-safe tracking of samples in transit from field to laboratory
  • Fail-safe tracking of sorbent tubes within a laboratory
  • Simplified work flow and enhanced productivity
  • Reduced risk of error
  • Wide range of tube types accommodated
  • One tag can be utilised by many sorbent tubes

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