A fresh approach in Lab Automation

For Lab Managers, it is an everyday challenge to reach company objectives while optimizing the quality, efficiency and cost of the lab. To make things even worse, upgrading quality and efficiency usually leads to higher instead of lower costs. To find an optimal balance, we can take a closer look at what computer technology can do for you.

In the old days, it was said that a paperless lab is the ultimate goal. It was the beginning of the introduction of Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS). However, LIMS proved to be only part of the answer since the oh so important lab notebook couldn’t be replaced. That’s why after LIMS, the Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) made its entry in lots of laboratories. Even after this addition, we still see paper going back & forth.

While using less paper certainly improved things, still efficiency gains are to be made. Both LIMS & ELN primarily focus on ‘data’. To increase efficiency and effectiveness, it’s equally important to streamline your processes. Streamlining and automating your process flow will lead to an improved lab. It is the missing piece in the puzzle. A Lab Execution System (LES) needs to be added to the mix as it is ‘process focused’. This implies that a software system that combines and integrates LIMS, ELN and LES, increases quality and efficiency more than the parts on their own.

What about cost reduction?
In this case, ‘cost’ means Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). TCO is significantly impacted by ‘customization’ and ‘maintenance’. The good news is that both can be tackled by using modern and innovative computer technologies.

Firstly: today’s answer to customization is configuration. Customization is done by IT consultants by means of programming. Each customization is done for each individual customer and is expensive in its nature. Configuration requires in general less time to implement and can be done by the customer himself, who is the expert in what is needed.

Secondly: today’s answer to anything computer is the cloud. Cloud computing has a positive effect on maintenance cost. The server maintenance is shifted from customer owned servers to centrally managed cloud servers. This means that the maintenance cost is being divided amongst all customers. Additionally, deploying pieces of software on every single desktop computer is no longer required. A standard installed web browser e.g. Chrome, Safari… is used. This further reduces maintenance cost.

When ‘Continuous Delivery’ is applied on cloud based solutions further cost reductions can be achieved. Continuous delivery is the process in which the supplier makes sure the program evolves on a week by week basis. This ensures that newly added functionality is immediately available for everyone. Additionally, it ensures immediate compatibility with evolutions in computer technology e.g. the next Windows or browser version. Again, dividing the cost over all clients.
Even more important in the reduction of Total Cost of Ownership, is the total elimination of the need for recurring and very expensive upgrade projects.

Summarized:

  • LIMS, ELN and LES help a lab manager reaching goals. Combining and integrating them in one software system further increases quality and efficiency.
  • Configurable Cloud Solutions with Continuous Delivery help to significantly reduce the Total Cost of Ownership.
Projects / Service Laboratory

Service Laboratory

Our client needed support for an efficient way of processing requests from A-Z. Tools where developed in a software environment that in the first place supported team collaboration. As a result, the communication within the team was greatly enhanced. During the analysis of the needs the scientific and technical team streamlined the process. As a result, the lab team significantly increased their efficiency. Last but least special care was given to data traceability. As a result, the general quality of their service increased.

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Projects / Quantification of Pointcare Plots

Quantification of Pointcare Plots

Our client was using PointCare plots to visualize the instability of a measured parameter. Our invention was to define a mathematical method to quantify the dimensions of the plots. This enabled our client to objectively quantify changes of the parameter in experimental conditions.

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Projects / CAPA

CAPA

Our client was using a paper based CAPA process in a GMP environment. Transformation to electronic forms and stream lining the process was the obvious thing to do. The ROI of the project was the seamless integration with the MES system of production, the LIMS system of quality control and the QMS system of the quality department.

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Projects / Spray Activator

Spray Activator

Our client needed to make a selection from a set of nasal sprays. To enable this an instrument with measurement software was developed. Lasers are used to illuminate the fume. A computer measures and analyses both image as well as a pressure sensor. Microsoft Excel was used as a report tool.

This laboratory setup runs under full GLP conditions. Therefore both the instruments as well as the software was validated under 21 CFR part 11.

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