A Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) is software that helps you manage all your laboratory operations and associated data like analysis, tracking samples, participant information, storage, and study.
Many LIMS offers many functionalities, including data analysis, process and workflow management, data analysis, auditing, quality control, and systems integration.
Types of Laboratory Information management Systems
Since lab work is highly varied, there are many types of LIMS in operation. They are so different that many people have different definitions of a Laboratory Information management System, usually depending on what they use them. It is also a fast-paced and dynamic system that can quickly adapt to meet your needs.
The type of LIMS you eventually choose is dependent on the lab requirements. Generally, LIMS tools focus on system info, storage options, and associated data capture. LIMS systems has a unique operation, and they are usually capable of performing a range of key functions.
Impact of LIMS in Various Industries
Laboratory Information system software is helpful in many different industries apart from clinical labs, including:
The pharmaceutical industry takes advantage of all the Laboratory Information management System’s features. Many cloud-based LIMS designs their features based on what medical laboratories need. It is in itself a fully digital version of the physical lab. Researchers don’t have to be physically present to use the lab data, and the process of capturing and adding laboratory data to the system is automated. This instant access and reporting of laboratory data management allow many teams to work simultaneously to develop new drugs, share data, reduce human error and improve lab efficiency.
Food and Beverage
Manufacturers need an efficient and convenient way to manage data in the food and beverage industry. The foundation of control over the essential processes carried out in labs is data and sorting it. Today, many enterprises have stopped using paper-based data reporting because of time consumption and inefficiencies.
Many companies perform rigorous testing on their product ingredients to maintain the quality and safety of their products. In particular, they have to be very careful in identifying any traces of non-GMO ingredients in their products and not incorrectly mark them as organic. Laboratory information management system solutions are an effective way to accomplish this and easily track data.
There is a lot of continuous testing carried out in the oil industry regardless of if it is natural or conventional gas. If there is no way to ensure sample tracking, safe data storage and transmission, these companies may begin to incur heavy losses. This is where LIMS comes in and bridges the gap.
Apart from providing all of the above, it also helps these oil companies keep their requirement of making sure there is no harm to anything surrounding them during oil extraction. This brings the need to test the soil and other critical geographical factors that are made possible with LIMS systems. Apart from features provided by regular Laboratory Information management system solutions like instrument integration, sample management, and job scheduling, it also makes it easier for the companies to abide by standards for protection and testing.
Quality control is an essential piece of every manufacturing process. If there isn’t a seamless way to synchronise data, keeping the quality across the board can become difficult. Laboratory information system for the laboratory will usually focus on reporting and track laboratory samples. You can use it to specifically check a product that was just released and goes through the testing process. This gives immeasurable insights into the product’s quality and highlights the improvements you can make.
Nuclear and Electric Power
Nuclear and electric power industries are crucial for keeping a city running. However, they can also pose a severe threat to the environment if all the operations aren’t run as they should. Many power plants require continuous testing for essential elements like air quality, soil condition, and water quality. LIMS solutions are excellent at helping these industries and the lab team conduct tests that are resource-saving, ensure regulatory compliance and convenient.
LIMS laboratory data management solutions are adaptable to any laboratory workflow of any testing process carried out in the agricultural industry. Some of the particular tests you have to undergo in agriculture include soil moisture, seeds, GMO, soil microbes, fertilisers, herbicides, etc. LIMS solutions will help you organise all of this data for the lab workers to adhere to all of the FDA guidelines. Automation is also a great benefit here as you will spend less effort and time completing simple processes.
Choosing the Appropriate Laboratory Information Management System for Your Laboratory
There are no biobanks or laboratories that are the same; hence their needs are unique, and this will guide you in choosing a LIMS system for it. Data, Processes, Infrastructure, Protocol, Security, and the team can vary significantly, so you cannot use a one-sise-fits-all approach as the focus is to improve lab productivity. Another thing you have to consider is the numbers and volumes concerning the people using the system and the amount of data you expect to work with.
On the surface of many Laboratory information management system software, they might give the wrong impression that they do precisely the same thing. However, as you go deeper into the functionalities of these systems, you will begin to uncover workflow management, security, functional, and technology differences.
It is essential to know what you’re looking for before you begin your search for a LIMS provider, so you don’t get confused with the many details and many buzzwords. A great place to start is the list of functions. You look at processes in your laboratory that you’re currently using but don’t work satisfactorily.
Seven Considerations for Choosing Laboratory Information management systems
Here are seven factors to consider in choosing a laboratory information management system:
These are objectives you set for any LIMS you want, and they have to be measurable for the short-, medium, and long term. Having these written down will clarify which functional requirements you have to prioritise, and you can better measure the effectiveness of the LIMS options you have. Also, check your regulatory compliance needs and if your chosen solution abides by it.
Check the technologies the LIMS uses to accomplish its tasks. Even though two different LIMS software can perform the same tasks, their underlying technology can be vastly different. It is always better if the LIMS uses modern technologies and fits into your internal infrastructure without hassles. Also, check if it is a local or cloud-based LIMS. This should help you answer questions like where your data is physical, who has access to it, if it is encrypted and laboratory workflows.
Different laboratories have unique data protection needs depending on location, what data needs storage, duration of storage, people who have access to the data for any updates. You also need to evaluate the possible repercussions if the data ever got into the wrong hands, procedure to test data and how each LIMS software tackles it. This information will make it easier to prioritise the security and protection features you need.
Here, you need to know that a sample management system cannot meet your needs and understand why a LIMS is the best for you. Understanding the key differences between regular sample management systems and LIMS will help you make an informed choice on the type and level of system ideal for your laboratory. Another thing you should consider is using an interim or modularised solution to meet the present challenges, such as inventory management.
Technology is always going to evolve, and there will be new advancements. It is essential to keep this in mind when selecting a LIMS software solution. It would be best to look for modern LIMS software that has features with potential core functionality that may be useful in the future. Understanding all the features of the LIMS, how to configure or change the settings and who can change it can give you access to flexibility.
You can also get recommendations for LIMS solutions from other laboratories similar to your operations. In asking questions from someone, remember to ask about their relationship with the supplier of the LIMS, as this could affect their perception. Other questions you should ask include how long they’ve been using the system, what duties or processes they use it for, and if they participated in the implementation process. They can also share possible challenges they’ve had with it and give you insights.
Support and Supplier Services
It is also essential to check the details of the LIMS supplier as it isn’t only about the software. If the LIMS supplier is unresponsive or constantly changing its project team, that is bad. It is a bad sign if it takes a long time before they respond to your inquiries or don’t seem to be as knowledgeable as you’d want.
You cannot overrate the impact of LIMS on various industries as it is one of the technologies that power some of our lab-reliant industries. It keeps them compliant, simplifies processes, helps inventory management and data management, and encourages collaboration to provide detailed and accurate records.