Many organizations have made significant investments in enterprise and laboratory tools, technologies and solutions to improve productivity, better manage data and optimize their business processes. ERP systems are used for enterprise connectivity, PIMS and MES are implemented at the manufacturing level and LIMS, CDS, ELN and SDMS are in place to support the laboratory environment. While these solutions are designed to optimize each specific area of operation, they are not often integrated with each other. The result is that these solutions become data islands that are accessed by different users, with little connectivity to enable a smooth flow of information across the enterprise. This lack of connectivity is one of the key reasons many companies do not realize a full return on investment (ROI) or the efficiency gains they had planned.
The concept of a paperless lab can transform this situation from a business problem to a business solution. The paperless lab not only automates the lab’s workflow; it also eliminates error-prone and paper-based processes while seamlessly integrating the lab with the other enterprise systems. By connecting these individual solutions and data silos, organizations can reduce paperwork and costs associated with manual processes, increase efficiency and automate regulatory compliance, foster collaboration and make faster and better informed business decisions.
A new on-demand webinar is available that outlines the situation many labs are facing, and delivers some thoughtful options for consideration as pharmaceutical QA/QC labs invest in paperless lab solutions. Lean Lab Informatics: Delivering on the Promise of the Paperless Lab.
Manual errors are costly and divert laboratory professionals’ time from more productive work since they require skilled personnel to review (and possibly correct) data collection and documentation. By automating and eliminating these manual processes, organizations can reduce the number of errors and minimize time spent writing and reviewing documents. The result is that labs have the potential to gain back very real hours for more strategic, revenue-generating work, enabling scientists and lab personnel to focus on value-added activities.
This lack of integration and automation is not new: companies have always recognized the potential benefits of integrating data-producing systems across the enterprise, but it wasn’t until recently, in a continuing effort to reduce costs, that attention has turned to automating lab processes and integrating that data with existing ERP, PIMS, LIMS, ELN and CDS. Compiling and analyzing these disaggregated data, both internally (R&D, manufacturing, geographically, functionally, etc.) and externally (contract companies, suppliers, research institutes, etc.), is often laborious and complicated. New solutions such as tablets and mobile devices further complicate the issue. But keeping these systems separated fails to maximize a company’s investments and can introduce inefficiencies and costly errors.Companies can lose out on a more basic level: not having the ability to quickly locate the data needed to make smart and informed decisions. This creates exposure, including potential for compromised product quality, delayed decision-making or even the release of inferior products into the market.
A tightly integrated paperless lab can solve these problems. As companies consider their options for implementing a paperless lab, there are many important considerations to keep in mind.
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Implementing any solutions should begin with a methodology for analyzing a company’s unique workflows – a comprehensive consultation to assess the organization’s existing lab automation, instrument integration and workflow. The assessment should highlight potential ROI and operational gains and deliver a plan for addressing where the current workflow relies on human intervention.
The technology solution chosen should leverage the organization’s existing investments so lab operations are optimized. The ideal solution should connect instruments and equipment, as well as the associated data sources and data destinations via a single interface. State-of-the-art integration middleware can translate disparate instrument languages and convert raw data to a vendor-neutral storage format for data archiving. Any investment in a paperless lab solution should also offer access to raw data and instruments from any web browser or mobile device.
Last but not least, the solution provider should offer pre- and post-implementation services to support the paperless lab, grow with the company’s ongoing needs and ensure the paperless environment is optimized and able to evolve as the lab or business needs changes.
If a company has made significant investments in enterprise and laboratory tools, technologies and solutions but has yet to realize their expected ROI, serious consideration should be given to the benefits of a paperless lab. Not only can this seamless environment improve productivity, compliance and quality, it also holds the potential to provide real-time savings to scientists and lab professionals so they can spend their time on value-added research, new product development or other activities designed to drive revenue.
Learn more about today’s paperless lab solutions.