Captain Jack Sparrow once said, “Wherever we want to go, we go. That’s what a ship is, you know. It’s not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails. That’s what a ship needs. But what a ship is…what the Black Pearl really is…is freedom.”
This too can be said about a LIMS. A LIMS is not just a piece of software with features and functions, specifications and tests. That’s what a LIMS needs. But what a LIMS really is…..is a tool that can help you attain your scientific and business goals.
The versatility of a LIMS allows it to be used to attain the goals of many different types of labs such as: QA/QC, R&D, Forensics, Environmental, Contract Testing, etc. And since each type of lab operates differently and has different goals, so too will the LIMS be really different things in each one. Broken out below are some examples of what a LIMS really can be in QA/QC and R&D labs.
What is a LIMS to a QA/QC lab?
A LIMS can really be many things in a QA/QC lab depending on the industry and how the LIMS was implemented. Some examples of what a LIMS really is in this type of lab include:
- An Efficiency Tool
- A GLP/Regulatory Compliance Tool
- A Product Quality Tool
1. A LIMS really is an Efficiency Tool
Scientists’ and technicians’ work efficiency can be greatly enhanced by automating their manual, mundane laboratory tasks in your LIMS. Ways that this is accomplished includes:
- Automating calculations & reports
- Automating Environmental Health & Safety sampling
- Automating stability studies
- Interfacing instruments to the LIMS
- Interfacing the LIMS to other systems (ERP, MES, Business Systems, etc.)
2. A LIMS really is a GLP/Regulatory Compliance Tool
Adherence to GLP and Regulatory requirements can be accomplished with your LIMS. Some examples of these features and capabilities that facilitate this includes:
- Automating instrument calibration & maintenance
- Automating standard and reagent management
- Automating scientist training, recertification, and the records for both
- Adhering to 21CFR11 regulations (e-sig, audit trail, e-records, etc.)
3. A LIMS really is a Product Quality Tool
Product quality can be automatically checked and managed within a LIMS. In fact, it is not uncommon for the LIMS to be the tool that manages product or batch release. Some examples of how your LIMS can be your Product Quality Tool include:
- Managing product specifications and testing limits
- Automating specification checking and implementing review by exception
- Utilizing trending to prevent Out Of Specification (OOS) events from occurring
- Automating the incoming inspection of raw materials
What is a LIMS to a R&D lab?
A LIMS can really be many things in a R&D lab depending on the industry and how the LIMS was implemented. Some examples of what a LIMS really is in a R&D lab include:
- A Data and Information Hub
- An Information Access, Sharing and Collaboration Tool
- A Core Lab Testing & Results Gateway
1. A LIMS really is a Data and Information Hub
Centralizing and organizing your research and development data and information is critical to the success of your R&D efforts. A LIMS can be implemented in such a way that it will become your data and information hub. This can be accomplished by:
- Recording all results in the LIMS
- Manual data entry
- Cut & paste
- Interfaces (see below)
- Interfacing your instruments to the LIMS
- Linking raw data files to experiments or samples/tests in LIMS
- Interfacing the LIMS to other laboratory data and information systems (CDS, Robotics Platforms, Imaging Systems, Biorepositories, etc.)
2. A LIMS really is an Information Access, Sharing and Collaboration Tool
Supporting information sharing and collaboration is critical to today’s research and development methodologies. Utilizing features and capabilities within your LIMS will enable you to facilitate, yet control information access, sharing and collaboration. This can be done through:
- LIMS security which will control
- Access to LIMS functions by role
- Access to data and information by
- LIMS data queries and reports
- LIMS ad-hoc data query and reporting tools
3. A LIMS really is a Core Lab Testing & Results Gateway
The reorganization of R&D in the recent past has driven the creation of a variety of specialized core labs where expertise with complex, high end instruments and analyses has been centralized. The LIMS used in this environment will act as the testing and results gateway by:
- Streamlining the sample and testing requesting process for the researchers
- Providing sample and testing status automatically or on demand
- Supporting core lab instrument reservations and scheduling
- Automatically delivery results reports or notifications to fetch reports
A LIMS will be different things depending on your goals, your lab type, and your industry. There is no wrong answer.
For more information on what a LIMS is and what it is not, visit the LIMSWiki page.
Have you figured out what your LIMS really is for you and your organization? Is it one mentioned above or something different?