Advantages of the LIMS system

Most major laboratories today have some type of laboratory information management system, or LIMS. Many small to medium sized laboratories are investigating whether it is worth the time and cost to implement a LIMS. If this describes the situation your lab is in, I will describe some of the benefits you can get from this.

Implementing and validating an extensive LIMS (laboratory information management system) is a large and expensive project. These projects are measured in man-years and are notorious for exceeding budget and planning. If your laboratory is considering such an undertaking, you should know that it will be worth the time and costs.

Before approaching vendors for quotes on laboratory data systems, it is best to have a well-defined set of user requirements. To develop this set of user requirements, you need to know what features are available. The following is a high-level list of LIMS features that you may want to include in your user requirements. Many of these compliance features and cost effective features can be found in the most basic and inexpensive LIMS, while other features require significant customization and can be quite costly to implement. If the lab is large enough with a large volume of samples, they will certainly pay for more than themselves.

LIMS benefits

1. Electronic recording of laboratory data – Data can be transferred electronically or manually from laboratory instruments to your LIMS system. This basic feature of a LIMS offers you both advantages in terms of compliance and time savings. Lab notebooks or analytic worksheets are no longer needed for tests recorded in your LIMS. Storage and storage space for these records is also eliminated.

2. Automatic, validated calculations – Make all necessary calculations electronically. This eliminates calculation errors and a manual second check of calculations. Eliminating these calculation errors also shortens your sample turnaround time by eliminating the paperwork required to travel from an auditor back to the analyst for calculation or significant number corrections.

3. Data mining and reports – Since data is now stored electronically, creating certificates of analysis or other necessary reports are just a few keystrokes away. Never collect all your data manually again! Moreover, data trending can now be done quite easily. Reports can be created to retrieve your results for user-defined tests and timeframes.

4. Event-triggered reporting – Reports can be created and set to run at any point in the life cycle of a sample. Some examples include: printing sample labels when you sign up for errors, error reports that trigger an automatic email for tests that fail, or automatically printing analysis certificates once a sample is approved.

5. Automatic reduced test planning – Tracking and planning of reduced tests can be automated. For example, an iron limit test that can be performed only every tenth batch can be set automatically to appear only on the correct samples.

6. Instrument Calibration and Maintenance Status Tracking – Instrument calibration and maintenance testing and frequency and the current status of an instrument can all be tracked in some LIMS systems. When an expiration date for calibration is reached, the status of the instrument changes automatically to indicate that the expiration date has passed and that the correct sample has been recorded. When the test is completed and passed, the status automatically changes back to an approved state.

7. Track which instruments are used with each test – Each test can be set so that there is a field to link an instrument to. This field can be set to display only instruments that are current for both calibration and maintenance.

8. Reagent Status Tracking – Many LIMS provide a module to track your reagents and chemicals. This is a difficult task to maintain manually. The LIMS automatically changes the status of reagents when the expiration date is reached. By setting up each reagent in your laboratory in a chemical inventory system within your LIMS, you can easily run a report of all reagents that expire within 30 days. As with linking instruments to any test, you can also link your reagents to your tests. By setting the fields so that only the user can choose reagents that have not yet reached their expiration date, you can eliminate compliance issues and retesting.

The above mentioned benefits are not all inclusive due to the ability to customize most LIMS to your needs. If you are currently weighing the costs and benefits of implementing a LIMS in your laboratory, you should now have a better idea of ​​the time savings and compliance benefits your laboratory can achieve.

Source by Tim Monteith