Chapter 50

Work Smarter, not Harder: A client clearly can’t cope with the caseload.

📂 Case overview: A friend of Shallot Homes is experiencing much stress as they are overwhelmed with a huge caseload and cannot cope. Their business is beginning to falter, and deadlines are rapidly approaching. Being stuck in their ways and struggling to make changes is beginning to make their business fall behind the competition. Can the detectives find a way to streamline her process and potentially save her business? Read on to find out.

The detective’s previous case involving a deflagration event at a flour mill was highly nerve-wracking, so Shallot Holmes spent their reward money on a relaxing holiday. Everything is perfect; the sun is shining, Cornlumbo has buried Eggcule Poirot in the sand to stop him from becoming hard-boiled, and Nancy Beef and Miss Mapple are sipping cocktails. Holmes cannot remember the last time he saw all the detectives at such peace when suddenly his mobile phone rang. “That better not be a client,” says Cornlumbo. “Don’t worry, I don’t give clients my mobile number,” says Holmes, who proceeds to answer his phone. “Hello, Shallot Holmes speaking”

“Oh, Shallot sweetie, thank heavens, I’m so glad you answered; it’s Sue; you remember me, don’t you?” Holmes remembered. It was Sue, whom he went to university with, or ‘Stressy Sue’ as she was known. “Oh, yes, Stre… Umm… Sue. I remember you; how are you?” says Holmes. “Not good, Shallot sweetie, not good at all, it’s awful; I don’t know what to do, or how I’ll cope, or what will happen, or who is to blame, or anything, I just don’t know, you must help me, or I’ll faint, or have a heart attack, or have a heart attack and then faint, and…” Sue went on, as Holmes’ was reminded how Sue got her nickname. “Take a moment to breathe, and tell me what happened,” says Holmes. “Well, it’s my laboratory; there’s too much to do and not enough time; I can’t cope; you were always so calm at University and always knew the solutions to all the problems,” says Sue stressfully. On hearing the word laboratory, Holmes’ ears pricked up. “You have a problem at your laboratory; then maybe I can help,” says Holmes.

On arriving at Sue’s laboratory, Holmes is reminded of his days at university, as the equipment is very outdated. Sue runs in circles as timers go off everywhere; she bolts over to an instrument to start or stop a process taking handwritten notes while worrying about the extraction reports she must write. Holmes stands watching the chaos and asks if this is how things always are. Sue explains that she has helpers who attend to the timers and take notes while she writes extraction reports. “So, what happened to the helpers?” asks Holmes. “Well, one of them sprained his ankle, and the other had a panic attack when four timers went off at once, which never usually happens, sometimes two timers, which is also stressful…” “I get the picture,” says Holmes, feeling sorry for Sue. “How about I help you with all the timers and notes? You can then leave me the keys to your lab, and next week we can try a new system,” says Holmes before another timer goes off and Sue bolts. “Oh, Shallot, sweetie, thank you so much; I knew I could count on you,” shouts Sue.

Sue was doing things how she was shown all those years ago, but there really was no need for all the stress. Modern laboratory equipment has advanced considerably since their days at university with the advent of cloud technology and mobile apps. Holmes decides to call in favors with his clients and spends the weekend trading in Sue’s outdated equipment. He then calls the detectives, who get to work kitting out Sue’s lab with the latest instruments. Eggcule is very excited and says he feels like he is on a TV show where you renovate someone’s house while they’re away. Holmes hopes Sue will like the changes and perhaps… just perhaps, calm down a little.

The detectives update Sue’s old rotavapors with modern automated cloud-connected ones that are controlled via an app . Her extraction equipment gets replaced with a single multitasking extractor which rapidly performs six extraction methods simultaneously with high reproducibility. Holmes even acquired a state-of-the-art supercritical chromatography instrument five times faster than her HPLC equipment. Once everything is set up, the detectives stand in a line and wait for Sue to arrive.

As Sue enters the building, her eyes almost pop out of her head. “My lab, what have you done? How am I supposed to work? Where’s my equipment? It’s almost empty here, and my timers; what have you done with them? How will I know when to do what? I, I, I…” says Sue characteristically. The detectives, who haven’t met Sue yet, look on in horror as Holmes rolls his eyes and calms her down. “Relax, Sue…sweetie, everything you need is right here,” he says calmly as he walks her over to the bench with all the new equipment. “Ooh, these are shiny, but they look awfully complicated; how do I change the parameters,” says Sue. Holmes tells her to take a seat while he explains. “But we need to get started right away, or I’ll never meet my deadlines,” says Sue. “That’s ok; we can set the parameters while we’re sat down,” says Holmes. Sue looks very confused and stressed but follows Holmes and takes a seat.

Holmes gives Sue a tablet with several apps and says she can set the parameters for her rotavapor from the comfort of the sofa or tell the app what chemicals are being used and the sample information. The app will optimize the process parameters accordingly. Sue looks astounded, then immediately asks about the new extraction unit and how she will set a timer. Holmes tells her the extraction app will send a push notification once the process is finished. If she is worried about how the process is going, the app provides real-time status updates that further reduce the time required in front of the instrument, allowing for immediate intervention, reducing downtime, and maximizing productivity.

Sue looks as if she is about to faint. “So, you’re telling me I can do the initial setup, set the parameters on my app, and the whole process will be automated, and all I have to do is write my extraction reports,” asks Sue. “Oh no, the instrument will generate extraction reports for you and give you an overview of the connected instruments with full traceability. The extraction parameters and process steps will be included for full documentation, and furthermore, it will calculate the gravimetric results based on the sample weight and data,” explains Holmes. Then something miraculous happens. Sue stares at Holmes and says… absolutely nothing! And breathes a huge sigh of relief when, seemingly out of nowhere, “BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ,” a timer goes off! Sue dives from her seat. “Oh no! What is it? What did we forget? What needs starting or stopping or writing?” she says frantically. “Oh, I set that timer, Sue; it’s to remind you to make us all a cup of tea while we wait,” says Holmes to the amusement of Sue and the detectives, and with that, Sue makes everyone a nice relaxing cup of tea!