comp_data collage1There’s a lot of conversation these days about data, where it comes from, who needs it and how to manage it. For industries in all market segments, data is being generated at such a pace that it requires new thinking in terms of how that data is captured and managed. Forcompanies that rely on laboratory data as a key contributor to their business metrics, the issue is compounded by regulatory concerns, the need for more collaboration and data sharing with multiple parties and, in some cases, privacy concerns where individual or patient information is captured. For all of these businesses, a laboratory data management system (LIMS) is an essential component of a sophisticated laboratory environment, enabling the lab to fully integrate all of its instrumentation and equipment, and by further integrating the laboratory with existing enterprise systems, enabling the use of lab data as a key business metric delivered to management. Companies that fully explore and invest in enterprise integration strategies have more opportunity to capitalize on new growth opportunities and give themselves the agility to take active steps to transform the business as management requires.

A strong argument for making the investment to integrate and connect the laboratory with the rest of the business is here in an article written by Aaron Hand at Automation World. Mr. Hand clearly outlines the benefits of optimizing the investments already made in the lab – in instrumentation, equipment, data management systems and other software – so that the business is in a better position to take advantage of opportunities to grow the business or shift strategies altogether as the market dictates. The article references the work being done at Thermo Fisher Scientific in helping customers reach an optimum level of integration in the lab, and then carrying that integration further into the business by connecting the LIMS, already integrated with instruments and other lab software, with enterprise systems such as SAP, PIMS or MES. The ultimate goal is to liberate the data captured in the lab so that actions can be taken that affect the business. Mr. Hand writes, “When data is presented to decision-makers logically and intuitively, Thermo Fisher argues, it fuels new strategic growth. The first step, however, is liberating insights that are stored in laboratories around the world, enabling more smart people to proactively query and use vast stores of knowledge…when that happens, a business is truly transformed, its laboratory is a growth driver, the C-suite is fully engaged and investors couldn’t be happier.” Read the full article: Data Can Transform Business through Labs.

Additional information on the concepts discussed in the article published in Automation World, including paperless lab and lean lab, can be found in a number of ways. A good webinar that outlines the lean lab process and the benefits of building a truly paperless lab can be found at Pharmaceutical Manufacturing. Michael Gannon of Orbis LabSystems, addresses the challenges and benefits of achieving a paperless lab in a life sciences business.

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A White Paper on the topic of investing in and achieving a paperless lab has been published by ARC Advisory Group. Paula Hollywood, Senior Analyst at ARC, asks the question: Are You Maximizing the Value of Your Laboratory Assets? The article makes a business case for investing in efforts that integrate the lab with the rest of the business, and she emphasizes that companies that don’t take these steps are potentially inhibiting their ROI on all of the sophisticated equipment and software in place in the lab.

Finally, a good overall resource for information about achieving a Paperless Lab can be found here. This site includes information about integration technologies and provides technical bulletins, published articles on the topic of achieving a Paperless Lab, and case studies illustrating what success looks like in a variety of industries, including food safety, municipal water providers, oil and gas companies, mining and biobanking.

I hope this information has been useful to you. Your feedback and comments are welcome and appreciated.