Quantities matter in science. Ordering the requisite items for present experimental needs is efficient, avoids clutter, and reduces waste.
The language of quantities when ordering lab supplies, however, is often ambiguous:
“Order a tube of Taq.”
“Get three boxes of serological pipettes.”
Some suppliers are easy with quantities designated by unique catalog numbers (Thank you NEB and Biolegend).
Some make it harder.
Each, Pack, and Case
Each, pack, and case can all be considered a box of an item and sometimes one catalog number corresponds to all three tiers (e.g. some listings at VWR).
Packs and cases can also contain single items. Requesting a case of media supplied one bottle per case will result in receiving one bottle. Unless the request was stated in number of bottles, less media than requested will arrive.
The good news there: ordering more is easier than having too much and trying to return some.
Item quantities are variable and every supplier is slightly different.
Check the Amount
Virtual Lab Managers meticulously checks quantity when ordering.
Asking the requestors to clarify is a best practice:
“This media is sold 1 bottle/case. Do you need more than one bottle?”
“A case contains 3,000 syringes. Do you need that many?”
Ordering the right quantity is good science.