- How to transform your lab and enterprise with LIMS
- What are the critical elements of a transformation LIMS
How to Transform Your Lab And Enterprise With LIMS
Transform Your Lab and Enterprise With LIMS
What is a LIMS? A LIMS or laboratory information management system is a software solution with features that support and enhance a modern laboratory’s operations. The functions and uses of a LIMS have evolved over the years from simple sample management to a lab enterprise resource planning and execution tool that manages multiple aspects of laboratory informatics.
It is helpful to organize thinking about LIMS as three levels of impact:
- Automate tasks
- Integrate systems
- Optimize enterprise performance
This approach can make a significant difference in your LIMS acquisition decisions, scope definition, and ultimate success in obtaining authorization.
A comprehensive LIMS solution automates tedious labor intensive tasks to reduce costs, errors and rework, and improve reproducibility, throughput, and turnaround. A LIMS implements, tracks, manages and supports laboratory operations, workflow, resources, performance, costs and much more. To illustrate, a few of the many examples with high value are:
- Create a sample record for product testing in seconds, by selecting a pre-defined template which populates required testing, assigns a unique identifier, and creates barcode label(s).
- Display a backlog for any operational step from receipt to analysis to approval, and any support activity such as instrument calibration, reagent ordering, user training, etc.
- On data entry of a result, apply multiple checks to validate the result and run associated equations.
- Produce and deliver a COA report with one button.
- Receive a daily email quality summary for manufacturing.
- Produce a report of all analysis that used a purchased reagent.
A comprehensive LIMS solution integrates multiple applications/systems/functions into a seamless operation, reducing costs, errors, and delays. It is important to think of integration not only in terms of communication between computer applications, but in the broader sense of improving communication between the elements of the total system. Thus integration can take many forms, from extending LIMS functions out into the shop floor, customer community, etc., to the more traditional software application linkages. To illustrate, a few of many examples with high value are:
- From an analyzer output, automatically create an instrument batch record, pulling in existing samples and processing their results, creating QC samples referencing associated lab standard values, calculating and summarizing QC performance statistics, and creating instrument calibration records.
- Extend testing request creation to the end user via the web as compared to providing paper request forms which must be entered in the lab.
- Trigger automated LIMS sample creation from ERP or MES system transmissions.
- Provide chemists access in the LIMS to the current method SOP from a document management system.
- Automatically send usage decisions and/or results from the LIMS lot release function to an ERP inventory/shipping function.
- Provide live product quality control charts dashboard on PLC or DCS consoles.
- Automatically load instrument calibration vendor reports into LIMS instrument calibration records.
- Seamlessly transmit testing invoices to an invoicing and accounts receivable system.
Optimize Enterprise Performance
A comprehensive LIMS solution builds on automating tasks and integrating systems to optimize performance, not only of the laboratory functions but more importantly of the entire enterprise. This involves delivering usable analytics and providing useful tools to drive improvement rigorously, and is a key ingredient in transitioning task oriented personnel into knowledge based workers and contributors. To illustrate, a few of the many examples with high value are:
- Provide a real-time product quality dashboard of control charts, lot release status, etc. for the PLC or DCS system operators.
- Provide a flexible query tool to domain experts to extract and analyze data according to ad-hoc demands.
- Provide an integrated CAPA facility to capture and organize follow up for a more managed quality program.
What Are Critical Elements Of A Transformational LIMS
Blaze Systems Provides A Transformational LIMS
To transform your lab, Blaze Systems provides a total LIMS solution, including a suite of integrated comprehensive COTS products, personalized training and implementation, and responsive, effective support. These critical ingredients for success, among many others, work in an organic, synergistic way to succeed that is particularly well suited and effective for today’s resource limited laboratories.
Comprehensive COTS Products
What are the characteristics of a comprehensive COTS LIMS and why is this critical? A comprehensive LIMS provides features that are both broad and deep. By broad we mean an integrated coverage of all the lab resources that contribute to the operation, starting with sample and container management, but also extending to instruments, methods, reagents and standards, storage facilities, personnel, documents, specs, customers, suppliers, and more. In addition, these features cover the sweep of the automate, integrate and optimize goals. By deep we mean that this coverage extends vertically into detailed functions and data for each of these areas. This broad and deep coverage is available as COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) configurable features, not requiring costly customized programming or scripting. These characteristics are critical for a cost effective solution with a long term life that will not hem you in as lab requirements evolve over time. To illustrate, a few of the many examples with high value are:
Broad Coverage Examples:
- Track and manage the life cycle and usability of reagents and standards through purchase, make, quarantine, release, reserve, use and disposal so that expiration or low inventory do not impact throughput, turnaround and quality.
- Track and maintain instrument status and enforce suitability for usage in prep or lab standards.
- Provide user records controlling qualifications for lab tasks.
- Track and maintain records for products, specs, customers, projects, patients, sites, labs, materials, lots, etc. and tie them to samples, materials, etc.
- Provide work requests to track and manage multiple sample submissions.
Deep Features Examples:
- Provide barcode labeling for positive and error free identification of samples, sample containers, instruments including lab ware, reagents and standards, personnel, batches, and more.
- Provide a symbolic calculation processor with the ability to access operand values across the entire domain of impact, including not only result values, but also instrument calibration values, batch, prep, standards, and more, in effect turning the LIMS tables into a giant spreadsheet.
- Provide specification management and application for combinations of product, customer, sampling point, season, patient demographics, experiment, etc. that handle the details of precision, text override, units conversion, text override, etc.
- Provide notifications for a wide range of special events.
To effectively configure and apply this broad and deep menu of options to transform your laboratory, Blaze System constructs and delivers a personalized process to train and assist in deploying the best choice and use of these features. This process begins with an exchange of key information about your lab from which we lay out the best configuration approach and fine tune the training and workshops to your specific use, insuring efficient use of scarce key user resources and no backtracking and rework. For example, some of the high-value elements are;
- Establish scope of entire configuration effort.
- Create workshop examples for real cases.
- Employ bulk loading tools where available.
- Surface and cover critical lab specific details for success by asking the right questions throughout the process.
- Employs the “learn and do” principle throughout.
Responsive Effective Support
As key users apply and fan out the configuration task, questions frequently arise as details come to light. While on-line help and user guides are available, the Blaze Systems hotline provides an immediate contact with the person best able to answer these questions in the context of your lab and keep things moving in the right direction without delays and wasted effort for you resources. Together and working synergistically, the personalized training and the hotline provide a highly effective method of deployment. Some examples are:
- In configuring method detection limits, a key user encounters a question about how and where dilution factors are applied. A call to the hotline provides an immediate answer, saving research time and rework.
- In configuring lot release specifications, a key user encounters a question about reporting in multiple units of measure. A call to the hotline results in a dialog about how best to handle the issue.
Will BlazeLIMS Work For Our Lab?
First of all, evaluate BlazeLIMS as a credible candidate for the industry and function of your laboratory, as specific LIMS functions are required for effective application in each lab.
BlazeLIMS is a general purpose configurable LIMS with broad and deep features and as such has been applied and is suitable for application in combinations of a wide range of industries and functions:
Biotechnology QC – Manufacturing Quality Control
Discrete R&D – Research and Development
Electronics Analytical Services
Environmental Regulatory – Governmental
Food and Beverage Specialty
Some examples among many that are critical of specific industries and functions but also have wide applicability and value to others:
- BlazeLIMS implements and supports regulatory requirements for ISO, FDA, EPA, etc.
- BlazeLIMS has features to support results as values, images, long text, etc. typically used for microbiology.
- BlazeLIMS supports the end to end Analytical Services chain for request through invoicing.
- BlazeLIMS supports delivery of real time control charts to accelerate corrective action and save waste.
Secondly, the Blaze Systems engagement process emphasizes an iterative exchange of information and targeted configuration prototypes to surface and demonstrate the key issues for your lab.
What is Involved In Implementing BlazeLIMS?
Implementing BlazeLIMS involves a process of populating tables of configuration information that describe the elements of the lab operation such as workflow, analytical methods, products, users, customers, operational templates, etc. and fine tuning key reports to your specific goals. While it is critical that a LIMS selection provide features for the future, it is often wise to employ the 80-20 rule and establish a valuable initial implementation, with subsequent steps to be undertaken later as experience reveals. The Blaze System triad of a comprehensive COTS set of products, personalized training and responsive effective support insures that key user resources for lab knowledge and Blaze Systems resource for LIMS knowledge are combined for optimum return.
Is BlazeLIMS Affordable?
First of all, BlazeLIMS pricing for both software and services is almost always within the region of affordability for even the smaller lab, whereas other LIMS in the same category of capability are not. Alternative delivery as SaaS and/or cloud hosted installations can improve this picture as well. Blaze Systems provides a budgetary estimate as a sanity check on the pricing early in the engagement process. Nevertheless, while the price can be comparable with a mid range ICP-MS, while returning a broad impact on the entire enterprise, it represents a significant investment for which it can be difficult to get approval unless driven by regulatory or expansion demands. In many cases these barriers indicate a need to establish not just the benefits of lab performance improvements but also the benefits of that performance on the enterprise. Some examples that we have seen:
- Save substantial product waste by delivering real-time control charts of quality parameters to the factory floor for much faster correction action.
- Provide release notifications in real time to batch operations, reducing dead time in the operations.
- Provide directed quality summaries to improve selection of materials for a particular customer need.