March 15, 2022
Laboratories struggle to meet compliance, increase productivity, and standardize processes irrespective of the industry and country they belong to. Digital transformation of laboratories adds value to the functioning of the laboratory processes. Laboratories need to make a shift from manual and paper-based systems to automated and streamlined workflows. A Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) is a perfect partner for laboratories wanting to digitize workflows and enhance their operational efficiency.
1. Integration With an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System
An ERP collects, stores, and manages critical business metrics and supports the business operations of laboratories. Laboratories can integrate a LIMS with enterprise systems, such as an ERP system, to improve laboratory processes, streamline cross-departmental data flow, and support day-to-day business activities, such as procurement, project and risk management, improving the overall operational quality and efficiency. An ERP also helps address traceability and compliance issues faced by laboratories.
2. Integration With a Quality Management System (QMS)
If the LIMS does not already include a QMS, integrating a robust LIMS with a QMS ensures that laboratories meet all quality standards and regulatory requirements. A QMS flags out-of-specification results and helps take corrective actions to ensure quality output. A QMS aims to improve a laboratory’s ability to consistently produce valid, reproducible, high-quality results.
3. Integration With Laboratory Instruments
Integrating laboratory instruments, such as GC-MS, LC-MS, RT-PCR machines, and DNA sequencers, with a LIMS eliminates the need for manual entry of data and reduces transcriptional errors. Reduced human errors automatically expedite laboratory processes and increase operational efficiency. It also saves time as it eliminates the need to manually record and collate data from multiple laboratory instruments. A LIMS helps schedule instrument calibration, thus reducing downtime issues. It also prevents staff from using a non-calibrated instrument for analysis by sending timely alerts.
4. Regulatory Compliance
Most laboratories, such as cannabis testing laboratories, COVID-19 diagnostics, clinical research laboratories, and biobanks, need to comply with the regulatory requirements to avoid hefty penalties and cancellation of licenses. The regulatory requirements vary from one industry and country to another. A LIMS not only helps automate laboratory processes but also ensures compliance with regulations. A LIMS helps in flagging differences and irregularities that could lead to non-compliance. Laboratories need to ensure that their LIMS is compliant with the industry standards or best practices to pass a regulatory audit.
5. Sample and Inventory Management & Tracking
A LIMS allows the effective management of samples and associated data. A LIMS helps quickly import and track samples using barcodes. Barcodes help identify samples and reduce the risk of mix-ups or lost samples. It provides complete sample traceability as samples traverse through their lifecycle. A LIMS keeps a complete record of inventory items such as reagents, standards, testing kits, and consumables along with their quantity, expiration date, and details of the vendor who supplied the items. A LIMS gives timely alerts and helps replenish inventory before the shortfall of the stock.
6. Reduced Turnaround Time (TAT)
A LIMS helps mirror laboratory workflows, assign tasks to competent staff, distribute the workload among staff members, track the progress of tasks, and monitor the turnaround time. Automated and streamlined workflows shorten the time of laboratory procedures. A LIMS tracks the status of all assigned, running, and pending tasks in the laboratory. Moreover, a LIMS ensures timely completion of laboratory processes and reduces the TAT, thus increasing efficiency and productivity.
7. Predictive Analysis
A LIMS boosts productivity by facilitating predictive analysis for the future. A LIMS can be integrated with risk analysis tools, data modeling, and statistical tools to predict future risks and quality issues based on current data trends. This helps laboratory staff eliminate all issues beforehand and ensure operational quality and higher productivity.
8. Cloud-Based Storage
Multiple users in a laboratory can access the data stored at a centralized cloud location. This benefit is offered exclusively by cloud-based LIMS. The deployment of cloud-based LIMS systems does not need additional hardware and software, lowering the total cost of ownership. A cloud-based LIMS allows easy exchange of data within and across laboratories located in different states or countries, as each collaborator can access information anytime, anywhere. A cloud-based LIMS also assures data integrity and safeguards the confidentiality of data through foolproof authentication mechanisms.
9. Increased Profitability
Traditional laboratories require a lot of manpower for conducting daily laboratory procedures. A LIMS increases the profitability of laboratories as it facilitates waste reduction, saves time, and automates workflows.
The continually changing needs of laboratories and the ever-evolving technology necessitate the replacement of paper-based systems with LIMS. A LIMS helps increase the efficiency of laboratories by managing a plethora of data, eliminating data silos, scheduling staff training, managing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), generating custom reports, and facilitating data interoperability and exchange. A LIMS saves time spent on manual data logging and thus helps eliminate manual errors. Furthermore, a LIMS helps laboratories maintain regulatory, safety, and privacy standards.