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Does Equipment Integration Really Save You Time?

September 06, 2018 / by Theresa Webster

does-equipment-integration-really-save-you-timeA lot of laboratories that look to implement LIMS often enquire about equipment and third-party software integration.  With an aim to go completely paperless, it is beneficial to ensure that the LIMS you choose to deploy has the capability to integrate with other systems and software.  Equipment integration provides the functionality of automatically transferring test results to your LIMS without the need for human transcription, but does this really save you time?  In this blog, we discuss where labs can see the most time savings by using equipment and third-party integration.

Test Method Calculations

Conducting sample analysis is the most value-added step of your laboratory process that a scientist can do.  It doesn’t involve administrative tasks such as searching for files or compiling data for reports.  It is the one step of the process that cannot be automated – e.g. the physical preparation of samples for a HPLC run. Calculating the final result can be time consuming, especially when you require multiple readings from multiple instruments to plug-in to your calculation.  For laboratories that perform bulk analysis, running multiple samples at the same time, equipment integration with your LIMS can deliver massive time savings.  Automating the entry of instrument readings into your LIMS, and then subsequently configuring your LIMS to automate the calculations, has shown to deliver final results up to 3 times faster* than a process without integration. If you’re starting a LIMS equipment integration project, it’s a good idea to record the current performance of your process so that you can calculate how your project has improved your process performance.  Introducing this level of automation to your laboratory not only helps you save time, but it provides you with a strong foundational process from which you can grow your business.

The Principles of ALCOA

Attributable, legible, Contemporaneous, Original, and Accurate. ALCOA is the acronym used to describe the principles of data integrity.  As a laboratory, it’s important to ensure that the data you generate during sample analysis meets these principles to uphold customer satisfaction and meet regulatory requirements.  Equipment and third-party software integration enables your laboratory to adhere to ALCOA and reduces the need for human transcription. When implementing integrations with your LIMS, it is also important to ensure the right level of computer systems validation is completed.  This provides documented evidence that the integrations consistently operate as expected in each scenario it is used. 

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Sample Submission and Sample Approvals

Laboratories that provide quality control testing to an in-house manufacturing process can benefit from further automation through integration with their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.  One example of integration with an ERP would be at the sample submission step. When a works order or a job is created on the ERP, you can integrate this with your LIMS to also create a sample awaiting receipt.  As you may perform routine testing on every batch manufactured, you can configure your integration to also select the required testing and specification based on product codes. Another example of how integration with an ERP can save you time is at the final sample approval step.  Many companies use their ERP to release a batch of product for distribution, but the release of a batch depends on the outcome of quality control testing.  Integrating your LIMS to send data to your ERP can help automate this process.  By passing the test results or the sample conclusion, you can reduce the need for human transcription between the two systems resulting in a more timely batch release process.

 

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Topics: Laboratory Management, Tips, best practices, LIMS, Data Management

Theresa Webster

Written by Theresa Webster

Theresa Webster is the co-founder of Broughton Software and serves as their Director of Product Management. After studying at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte receiving a BSc in Biology and a BA in Chemistry, Theresa began her career at Broughton Laboratories, a leading UK MHRA and US FDA GMP licensed contract laboratory. In her role as a Commercial Projects Manager, she developed business start-ups from idea to fully operational divisions, in particular, the stability storage facility and software services. Theresa led the software services division to become a stand-alone business in 2012 as Broughton Software providing the industry's leading LIMS solution for Quality Control Laboratories. In her personal time, Theresa enjoys travel and fitness.