What Is A LIMS?
A LIMS or laboratory information management software to improve laboratory productivity and efficiency by capturing, integrating, and managing information about laboratory operations. A modern LIMS as offered by Blaze Systems provides the automation and operational backbone not only for the many complex and information intensive processes within the lab, but also extends and enhances the entire enterprise quality service chain. A LIMS does this through performance improvements that derive from automation of manual error prone tasks, seamless integration of related functions and resources, and optimization of the overall quality system. In fact, a laboratory data analysis software properly implemented according to the specifics of your laboratory will provide a digital transformation for your enterprise.
Key Benefits of LIMS
LIMS automation, integration, and optimization provides multiple benefits:
- Tangible labor savings, often 20-40% of lab workload.
- Reduced errors, delays and rework, faster turnaround, improved throughput, and better utilization of instrument, reagent and human resources.
- Faster problem solving, assured data integrity and regulatory compliance.
- Detect process drift or off-spec quality sooner and avoid product waste, with major savings.
- Respond more effectively to business changes (new products, employee turnover, new risks and threats, etc.)
- Improve work environment, reduce turnover and burnout.
Why Use LIMS Software?
- Laboratories are complex organic operations with an intense focus on information, and with many interrelated moving parts. As such they demand unrelenting attention to insure operational excellence. LIMS automation and integration are a natural to effect a step change in operational effectiveness for this kind of environment.
- Many current trends such as turnover of personnel, working remotely, increased demands for quality, greater risk for failures, ever growing competition, etc. demand the managed digital backbone and transformation for the quality function that LIMS provide.
- The impact of laboratory effectiveness extends out into the entire enterprise information and service chain in ever expanding ways. As a result, there is a major potential for LIMS to make a dramatic contribution to the overall system, in ways that have not traditionally been appreciated or realized.
- The small to medium sized enterprise is impacted in the same ways as the Fortune 100 company. LIMS benefits for such laboratories are increasingly critical for business success, and today they are within reach even with the more limited resources.
Who Uses Laboratory Information Management Software?
Laboratory Information Management Systems are a mature technology, with their origins over 35 years ago. Until recently and because of the high cost ($300K and up) and specialized nature of LIMS technology and implementation, the dominant users of LIMS have been the large enterprise with centralized application management resources. The drivers have been three fold, the demands of regulatory agencies, enterprise growth requiring higher lab capacity, and a major stake in maintaining quality production and reducing waste.
That has steadily changed with expanded functional/benefit value, reduced prices, and innovations such as cloud hosting. For example, a BlazeLIMS system today starts at $30K, which makes LIMS attractive for labs of almost any industry, function and size.
Automate, integrate, optimize virtually any industry or lab type.
LIMS And Lab Workflow
A comprehensive LIMS such as BlazeLIMS will manage laboratory workflow steps and resources to whatever extent is suitable as controlled by the configuration of tables to define the parameters and rules. This diagram illustrates workflow processes and resources that may be involved depending on the type of lab and extent to which LIMS management is warranted. While a LIMS implementation may initially employ only a few of these features, it is not unusual to expand use over time.
At each step in the workflow, LIMS has the following available:
- Status and Backlog
- Security / Privileges
- Alerts and Notifications
- SOP Documents
- Performance Metrics
- Audit Trail
Resources may be managed and seamlessly integrated in each step:
- Reagents and Standards Status, Availability and Use
- Instrument Status, Availability and Use
- Personnel Training Qualifications
- Documents (SOP, Specs, etc.)
- CAPA Events
Why Blaze Systems
While a LIMS implementation can bring major benefits, there is significant risk involved if proper care is not taken to insure success, especially for the small to medium sized lab/enterprise where LIMS expertise and other resources are limited and already fully occupied. Key factors to consider are illustrated by the more common causes of LIMS failures. Our products and project methodology pave the way to a successful LIMS.
Common Causes of LIMS Failures
It is not uncommon for a LIMS implementation to fail to meet its cost, delivery time, functional requirements and business value objectives. Bringing together the complex operations of a quality system/lab and the complex capabilities of a LIMS system is a major challenge. As a result, a LIMS project can place a significant demand on resources and failure can be very costly. It is critical to “get it right the first time”. Looking at some more common causes of LIMS failures is useful. The smaller lab/enterprise is particularly vulnerable to these pitfalls and can least afford failure.
- Customization, or writing of new code that is project specific, costly, and burdens the system with high maintenance throughout its life.
- Excessive and unplanned labor in configuring master reference data due to false starts, under-estimating the quantity of information, poor tools.
- Inefficient and ineffective project management and methodologies that are not informed by LIMS specific experience and capable resources.
- Lack of strategic workflow-based pre-planning across the quality function to define critical needs, set priorities, take a long term view of goals, avoid less valuable and costly rabbit trails.
- Late recognition and planning for bringing key user knowledge to bear on the entire process from beginning to end.
Blaze Systems Insures Success by Addressing Risks
Blaze Systems brings together four essential elements for a low risk and successful LIMS installation for both the large and small enterprise, with a product and process that insures success by addressing the pitfalls:
- A comprehensive, full featured suite of COTS products that is broad and deep – no customization.
- A defined and managed process to insure an optimal selection, acquisition, training and implementation project.
- Configurable integration modules to seamlessly weave LIMS into your enterprise systems.
- A responsive, personal support system that streamlines the entire process.
A Comprehensive Product That Is Broad and Deep – No Expensive Customization
Blaze LIMS and associated modules are a COTS (commercial off the shelf) suite of lab automation products that are both broad and deep, which are configured to a particular lab’s requirements, without costly customization that can jeopardize a project.
- By broad we mean an integrated coverage of all the lab processes and 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.
- By deep we mean that this coverage extends vertically into detailed configurable of functions and data for each of these areas, handling the wide range of specific demands of each type of laboratory without custom programming.
As a result, during your vetting of BlazeLIMS, your critical functions can be prototyped and demonstrated so you can see how the system will work for you.
Configurable Integration Modules
In industry-wide surveys, LIMS users report that the biggest challenge in using their LIMS is disconnected or “stovepipe” systems that are not integrated. Blaze laboratory data analysis software provides configurable seamless integration among the many LIMS functions but also with other key enterprise systems. Some examples are:
- Instrument integration for everything from simple instruments (e.g. balances) to complex analyzers at the batch and QC level, eliminating costly transcription.
- Round trip integration with ERP/MES systems (e.g. SAP) to trigger sample logging and receive back usage decisions and results.
- Integration with enterprise document management systems to provide current SOP’s, etc.
- Integration with third party instrument and equipment maintenance and validation systems.
- Integration with systems that manage master records (e.g. customers, products, specifications).
- Integration with order and invoicing systems (e.g. contract labs).
It is not unusual for a LIMS acquisition team to miss the high value of enterprise system integration, but working with Blaze Systems will open the door to a cost effective seamless integration across your enterprise early in the planning stage to boost the benefits.
Defined Managed Acquisition / Implementation
Blaze Systems employs a LIMS acquisition and implementation methodology and process that establishes a continuum of mutual information exchange, dialogs, demos, and other engagement activities from which evolves an evergreen joint picture of what a LIMS implementation will be like for a particular enterprise, and a plan for optimal implementation. The critical factors that make this process succeed are:
- The process is interactive, iterative, and flexible and thus facilitates mutual discovery and understanding of the key issues, while operating within the available customer resources for engagement.
- The process provides a melding together of critical experience and growing understanding from both organizations into a plan built to succeed without awkward late discovery problems.
- From the very beginning we provide a strategic workflow-based pre-planning across the quality function to define critical needs, set priorities, take a long term view of goals, avoid less valuable and costly rabbit trails.
- Information exchange and targeted demos provide a drill down to actually see and feel the key provisions for success and insure an efficient training and configuration process without false starts and miss-applied efforts.
- A clear picture of resources and metrics associated with configuration is developed, taking into account automated tools for bulk loading and more.
- The implementation process is optimized to optimally use customer resources of personnel, time and money, leveraging the exchange of lab information and pre-configuration developed during the acquisition process.
Responsive Personal Support
One of the most important element in the success of a BlazeLIMS system is our personal responsive support.
Guarantees an Efficient and Effective Project
As key users apply and fan out the configuration tasks, 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.
Delivers Lifetime Availability and Continuous Improvement
After commissioning, our support continues to insure availability and boost continuous improvement by effective troubleshooting, fast and informed answers to questions, and periodic releases to keep the product fresh.
What Is Involved In Implementing a Blaze LIMS System?
Implementing Blaze LIMS 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 a Blaze LIMS System 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 fora more expensive. 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.
Start Now and Find Out For Yourself
Don’t just take our word for it. Start your risk free acquisition process now and find out for yourself:
- Requires a minimal amount of your time and resources.
- Incremental exchange of information and configured demos lead to a prototype of your LIMS system before you commit.
- 60 day free trial for hands on-validation of suitability and appraisal of benefits, training, impact.
- You work hard to make your manual or semi-automated processes deliver, but there is a much better way through automation. You have nothing to lose but your redundant, tedious, error prone manual processes for producing and using your laboratory data.
Contact us and we’ll arrange a 15 minute phone conversation to exchange information so we can better understand your goals. Together we will determine what Blaze Systems’ solutions best meet your needs.
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