Every additional day that inventory is available for sale has the potential to earn more money for your organization. This can be accomplished in your laboratory with the proper installation of a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS). The LIMS can lead to better inventory planning, quicker release of materials, and the ability to search for data more quickly. This leads to more available inventory and more potential profits. The need to produce more product, faster is key for many businesses during seasonal peak demand periods when more production is required to meet demand and commercial lots need to be released as soon as possible.
So let’s go through a few examples of industries where a LIMS would increase a company’s speed to market to support seasonal product demand.
On or around April fool’s day, we see the buds of spring begin to bloom, and with it, allergy season takes hold. It’s not uncommon for companies who manufacture oral antihistamines, tissues, and eye drops to see a spike in sales this time of year. To capitalize on this, a LIMS should be implemented in the quality labs of their manufacturing facilities so the production process can speed up and become more streamlined to meet the demand increase.
There are many additional efficiencies to be gained through the rest of the year as well. A LIMS can manage the incoming inspection of raw materials, testing raw materials, in-process, and final product samples. Then it can assist the process of final product review and release. A LIMS can even track which raw materials went into each batch as well as the location and inventory level of your finished product. These efficiencies during allergy season solidify the reason to implement a LIMS.
The sale of lower margin products, like tissues, in higher volumes due to a LIMS implementation can make a significant difference to the company’s bottom line, helping that company increase profits during the April to September peak demand period. The planning for the ramping up of production before allergy season including resource, materials, and instrumentation availability can also be facilitated by a LIMS, which will lead to more products being available for sale during the peak.
Many of these medical device companies also have a LIMS installed to meet FDA guidelines. The LIMS can also help by facilitating the efficient release of products through implementing “review by exception” rules, interfacing to instrument systems to enable one-click viewing of supporting data, and automating QC batching of testing. The LIMS can also assist in the testing of raw materials that are used to produce these products as well as by supporting a company’s preferred vendor program through skip lot testing functionality.
Flu season usually starts before Thanksgiving in most states but is dependent on the local weather. Companies that manufacture flu shots, antivirals and test kits need to be prepared for the surge in demand for these items prior to and all through the Flu season.
The CDC aids in the decision of the type of vaccine that needs to be developed for a particular flu season. After that decision is made, production of flu vaccines begins in earnest by pharmaceutical companies. The vaccine demand is always high and depending on the severity of the season, rationing has sometimes been required. The companies that can react the quickest and release a product the fastest will have the greatest effect on human health and make the largest profits. A LIMS properly implemented in the quality control labs of vaccine manufacturing companies can dramatically increase lab efficiency and increase production and release for reasons previously described.
Diagnostic test kits also have peak demand periods depending on what they are testing for and will benefit from the utilization of a well implemented LIMS. Being nimble, efficient and having the ability to generate a quality product quickly will increase a company’s profitability.
Food and Beverage
It’s no secret that certain holidays revolve around food and drink. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Halloween are just a few examples of holidays that experience spikes in the sale of soda, cake, candy, and food in general. Grocery stores dedicate whole aisles to holiday related food. And manufacturing plants can’t stop making other products just to increase volume in the popular holiday food or beverage items. They need a better solution.
Planning to generate stock for that holiday can be beneficial to your bottom line, and in the Food & Beverage industry, a LIMS can assist in the planning, production, and release of these products. Also, food products and the manufacturing facility itself require extensive microbiology and pathogen testing, which a LIMS can make more efficient. In general, a LIMS can efficiently speed up food and beverage production.
Oil and Gas Industry
So when is the demand for gasoline and jet fuel the greatest in the United States? It is the busiest travel day of the year, which is the day before Thanksgiving. If you are just considering gasoline, it is on the long July 4th weekend. These two holiday times are when the supply of gasoline is critical for oil and gas companies to turn profits. The profit that refiners incur is a fixed amount. The price of jet fuel and gas fluctuates mostly on the price of crude oil and refinery capacity. So any efficiency gained in production generates more profit.
LIMS can assist in the efficient production and release of gasoline by automating workflows. Increasing sample throughput within the quality control labs that serve the refinery is a competitive advantage. It makes those companies with a well implemented LIMS better able to meet the demand during peak travel times. Efficiency leads to more profits.
We all enjoy the holidays, but wouldn’t you like them even more if your business could turn more of a profit. If you’re not sure whether a LIMS could help you gain a competitive advantage during the holidays, ask yourself these four questions:
1) Do you currently have an older LIMS or a paper-based laboratory?
2) Does your laboratory process samples slowly and have difficulty releasing product?
3) Are you having a hard time meeting demand during peak need times?
4) Has your inventory been difficult to manage and keep track of?
If you answered “yes”, it may be time to invest in a new LIMS so that you can become more competitive and increase profitability. Just remember, if you are going to improve your process and workflow and deploy a new LIMS, you will need a sufficient amount of time and subject matter expertise to make your LIMS implementation and/or validation successful.
What holiday or season do you experience a peak demand in product and how have you used a LIMS in resource, raw material, and finished product plans to meet the demand?