For the past 10 years at least, labs across the widest range of industries have been talking about improving efficiencies and reaping the benefits of time and money saved by automating manual processes. Here we are again, but this time the technology just might have caught up with the conversation.
For most companies investing in instruments, laboratory information management systems (LIMS) and other lab software, as well as enterprise systems to improve operations, one key variable has kept them from realizing an optimum return on these investments – seamless integration of these systems. The result is that these important investments often operate as standalone systems, creating data silos that do not communicate with one another. The way to achieve real ROI and improve operations further is to automate systems and integrate these individual solutions so that efficiencies and throughput can be increased, costs reduced, more opportunities for collaboration can be created, paperwork can be reduced and access to real-time information can be improved, allowing for better informed business decisions.
A good explanation of the financial gains to be realized by moving to a paperless lab, not to mention the efficiencies, can be found in an article recently published by EuroLab in ScientistLIVE. Delivering on the promise of the paperless lab outlines a thoughtful approach to fully automating and integrating the lab and the organization, and illustrates the financial benefits that can be realized not only in terms of dollars saved, but also in productivity and the increase in value added contributions that can be made by eliminating the reliance on paper and removing paper-based processes. An excellent graphic showing dramatic potential cost savings is found in this technical bulletin, CONNECTS for the Paperless Lab. Imagine the giant leap in productivity that could occur if your lab personnel were spending 20% more of their time in revenue-generating activities instead of on paper-based documentation processes.
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Companies across the full spectrum of industry are moving to the paperless lab concept, and some interesting case studies include examples of integrated labs in the agriculture industry (The Irish Department of Agriculture), water and wastewater (Thames Water and United Utilities), oil and gas (Sakhalin Energy), mining (Minera San Cristobal) and biobanking (HUNT Biobank).
There’s much more to talk about when it comes to defining the paperless lab, so stay tuned and join in the conversation. What does paperless lab mean to you?
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