In 2022, the size of the environmental testing market worldwide was valued at USD 11.07 billion, and it is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 7.8% from 2023 to 2030. This signals a potentially lucrative opportunity that environmental testing labs can exploit. However, such labs need to brace up for the challenges that come with such a robust opportunity as the long-term gains will not be presented on a silver platter.
Can an environmental testing lab scale its operations seamlessly to meet the rising demands without having the appropriate informatics in place?
While some may argue that this is possible with a competent human resource, the risks far outweigh the benefits. With ever-increasing demands for environmental testing, it can be impractical for labs to rely on human labor to manage workloads seamlessly. Moreover, the inefficiencies that ensue can be very costly for a laboratory. At the end of the day, a lab that fails to embrace modern informatics solutions is likely to lag in performance and hence lose its clientele to forward-thinking laboratories. Laboratory informatics, such as a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), helps labs automate their processes and, in turn, eliminate human error and boost productivity. Furthermore, laboratory software can help environmental labs keep up with the numerous regulatory requirements imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and NELAC, besides state, local, and other country-specific regulations.
Why Do You Need a LIMS for an Environmental Testing Lab?
Both commercial and municipal environmental testing labs need a LIMS to help them scale their operations both horizontally and vertically without incurring additional costs. An environmental LIMS software offers the following benefits:
Transitions the lab from a manual system that’s error-prone to a paperless system
Improves sample management through accurate and consistent tracking
Improves data tracking and management
Configures and streamlines lab workflows
Integrates with all instruments and software a laboratory houses for automating workflows
Increases lab efficiency and throughput to reduce the turnaround time
Supports regulatory compliance
Reduces operational costs in the long run
The LIMS you choose for your environmental testing lab should be able to meet your lab’s unique needs. A rigid and inflexible LIMS may cost less, to begin with, but you will incur additional costs as you scale your operations, making it expensive in the long run. A robust, customizable, and configurable environmental LIMS software that allows you to introduce new functionalities may serve you better. With a LIMS in place, you can easily automate your operations without breaking a sweat.
The features of a LIMS vary from one vendor to another. However, there are essential features that you should be on the lookout for when purchasing a LIMS for your environmental lab. These features will ensure that your lab operations flow seamlessly.
7 Key Features of Environmental LIMS Software
Sample Management: An environmental LIMS should offer end-to-end sample management that allows the lab to track thousands of samples using barcodes from the time they are received to when they are disposed of. It should make it possible to print labels automatically to make sample management and tracking more efficient.
Test Management: A LIMS should be able to maintain a chain-of-custody to track test turnaround and hold times. It should allow a setting to flag out-of-specification results automatically depending on preset detection limits. It should have the functionality to generate barcodes and print labels for tracking multiple tests.
Field Data Entry: A LIMS should allow users to enter sample data remotely whenever it is collected in the field. This minimizes time wastage and errors as well. It can also enable clients to log samples that they would send to the lab for testing.
Custom CoAs Generation: A LIMS should be able to generate custom CoAs based on preset parameters for sample information and test reports. The CoAs can be generated in batches and delivered automatically to clients through the client portal or via email. It is important to have a QR code in place for the authentication of the CoAs.
Inventory Management: It is usual for environmental testing labs to have a host of inventory, such as reagents, that should have a host of metadata, such as lot numbers, solution concentration, and expiration dates. A LIMS should facilitate inventory tracking through the use of barcodes and print labels and should also be able to flag inventory whose expiration date is approaching. This will definitely play a big role in making the lab’s operations seamless.
Instrument and Software Integration: An environmental LIMS should facilitate a seamless transfer of analytical data from different analytical instruments to the LIMS system. It should also support integration with other software such as SAP, JD Edwards, Sage, and statistical analysis software packages, such as NWA Quality Analyst and SAS JMP. Also, the LIMS software should support integration with third-party billing software, such as QuickBooks and Peachtree, to enable the lab to manage critical business metrics and streamline business processes.
Others: The environmental LIMS software should also support other key functions, including:
Hazardous Waste Code Management
Chemical Storage Management
Water Depth Schedule/Measurement
Local Limits/Permit Limits (DCDs)
Reference Analyte Group Management
It is also important that an environmental LIMS software supports compliance with regulatory standards and requirements. CloudLIMS supports compliance with the following:
CFR Title 40
State and local regulations
Partner with the Right Environmental LIMS Software Vendor
It is not sufficient to have the right features in place to support your environmental testing lab. It is equally important to ensure that you partner with the right LIMS vendor that will support you all the way as you implement the LIMS. Bear in mind that this is a long-term investment and switching from one LIMS vendor to another can turn out to be a costly affair.
With this in mind, CloudLIMS grants customers every opportunity to test the LIMS before they finally purchase. CloudLIMS will guide your staff through an interactive product tour that will enable them to understand the entire suite of features and capabilities of the environmental LIMS software.
CloudLIMS offers a configurable LIMS solution for environmental labs that’s easy to deploy and implement. This is a cloud-based system and provides a secure and remote way for you to scale your environmental laboratory operations without any difficulties, meet stringent regulatory compliance, and automate processes.
To sum up, if an environmental testing laboratory wants to expand its activities smoothly and keep up with growing demands, it must implement a LIMS system. A LIMS enables laboratories to automate their procedures, reduce human errors, and increase efficiency. Furthermore, LIMS software is useful for environmental laboratories to comply with multiple requirements set by regulatory agencies. It is adaptable and adjustable to meet the specific needs of an environmental testing lab and can prove to be beneficial in the long term. Besides having the right environmental LIMS software, it is crucial for labs to collaborate with the right LIMS vendor who can provide assistance promptly whenever required.