How the STARLIMS™ SDMS Can Benefit Your Lab

STARLIMS™ SDMS

Abbott Informatics provides their Integrated Solution to meet the needs of laboratories and organizations as a whole. The STARLIMS SDMS (scientific data management system) is one of those solutions to help lab analysts collect and manage electronic documents, while keeping the data in an easily extractable form.

The STARLIMS SDMS can be useful to analytical laboratories, whether in manufacturing or research and development, because they are perpetually faced with manipulating increasing volumes of data. These laboratories generate many types of supporting documents to capture results, ensure operations adhere to standards, and communicate their results to customers. Creation of these documents can be costly if done manually, and sometimes documents are misplaced. The STARLIMS SDMS reduces laboratories’ risk of lost data or other human error.

In this blog post, we will look at the advantages of the STARLIMS SDMS in comparison to other informatics solutions, how it can function in your lab, and the benefits your lab will derive from implementing it.

Advantages of an SDMS

An SDMS can be integrated with other laboratory informatics solutions like a LIMS or CDS. It collects all the documents produced by laboratory instruments that perform analyses. The process of data collection and storage is automated to eliminate paperwork and save processing time. There are many advantages to using an SDMS rather than comparable applications such as data capture utility (DCU) or an electronic lab notebook (ELN).

Some of these advantages include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • File type compatibility including unidentified documents, PDFs, word processors, plain text or spreadsheet data
  • Speed in comparison to DCU or similar software; requires no programming knowledge, and processing times are dramatically accelerated
  • Ease of use enabled through color coding, user-friendly functions like zoom-in and zoom-out, and no need for complex parsing applications
  • No dependence on application software on the server side (e.g., Microsoft Word); when parsing elements, an image is created in the background and the system logic is placed on top of it
  • Support for complex elements like multiple-page documents, documents that have different page sizes and orientations, cross-page objects, or reconstruction of elaborate tables
  • Ability to construct composite documents using a simple drag-and-drop functionality from Microsoft Word and Excel
White Paper: "A Practical Guide to Instrument Integration"

An SDMS uses pattern-matching logic and algorithms that are independent of knowledge bases or dictionaries. It can extract static data to a Unified XML structure to export and reuse data, making laboratories more efficient. The system grabs data from integrated instruments, maps documents and data to appropriate locations in the LIMS, or routes them through workflows for others to review, approve, and enable in the system. These data are then available for communicating laboratory results to customers or putting new SOPs into effect. Using an SDMS with a LIMS reduces or eliminates the need for users to enter results manually.

Simply put, an SDMS streamlines the process of getting laboratory-generated data into the LIMS and enables access to that data from anywhere else in the organization, even after the instrument that produced the data is no longer in service.

STARLIMS SDMS Functionalities in Your Lab

The STARLIMS SDMS is a Web-based SDMS built on Microsoft Visual Studio .NET technology. The SDMS integrates with STARLIMS, a popular tool used by laboratory personnel to manage their workflows and tasks. Some settings need to be added in STARLIMS to allow users access to the SDMS. Sites and Users should be synchronized to the SDMS to harmonize permissions for SDMS functionalities and Objects.

However, the STARLIMS SDMS also can operate as a stand-alone product outside of STARLIMS, to track and store electronic laboratory documents. It can be used with other LIMS solutions, leveraging its open-architecture Web service layer. This makes it potentially useful for any lab that needs a robust data management system.

The STARLIMS SDMS includes five main functionalities:

  • Capturing data from documents, files, and images.
  • Storing all types of data (text, table, graph, image) in raw and processed formats using advanced indexing capabilities.
  • Retrieving data using sophisticated searching methods leveraging the indexing capabilities.
  • Providing document workflow design and management.
  • Managing users’ permissions.

STARLIMS SDMS Capabilities for Laboratory Data Management

The STARLIMS SDMS functionalities yield many benefits in your lab, including the following:

Collaboration

Users anywhere in your organization have access to lab documents using a standard Web browser, regardless of document source or format. Document management functions, such as review and approval, are accessed within Microsoft Office products. All stored documents, including unstructured text like images and tables, are searchable by keyword, metadata, or free text. This offers possibilities for innovation and optimizing the use of lab equipment and personnel.

Efficiency

Manual data entry can be time consuming and error prone. These burdens are reduced through instrument integration. The STARLIMS SDMS lets you build your own instrument integrations without programming skills, using the interactive functionalities of Template Designer and Grabber Monitor. The SDMS saves you time by monitoring system activity and importing new data for you, then using a file parser to automatically translate most instrument and document formats, including PDF, TXT, CSV, and DOC. Built-in wizards and an intelligent engine let you design an optimal parsing algorithm. Parsed data is stored electronically, eliminating printing and enabling the digital transformation to a paperless lab. Document review and approval cycle times are reduced with automated workflows, so results can get out the door faster with all the required approvals. The STARLIMS SDMS can be administered directly from other STARLIMS applications, without opening the standalone system.

Data Integrity and Compliance

The STARLIMS SDMS gives you the ability to automate the creation, review, and approval of common laboratory documents such as SOPs, certificates of analysis, product specifications, reports, and raw instrument output files. This automation makes it easier for your lab to meet stringent regulatory requirements, by providing an audit trail. The STARLIMS SDMS is specifically designed to be 21 CFR Part 11 compliant for record creation, audit trails, electronic signatures, data security, and record storage in the original format. This means that raw data is stored using powerful archiving technology in a central location, so it can be accessed in its original format whenever needed, even years later. Also, losing data is no longer a possibility for your organization, because the powerful search capabilities of the STARLIMS SDMS can locate any record instantly, whenever and wherever needed. The retention and archiving settings are configurable, allowing you to easily meet organizational policies for approvals and sign offs.

Integrating the STARLIMS SDMS with your laboratory informatics portfolio gives you secure long-term storage while maintaining ease of access, and can set your laboratory up to run efficiently and in compliance with all applicable regulations for many years to come. If you’d like to find out more about whether the STARLIMS SDMS is a good fit for your lab, we can help you.


How has the STARLIMS SDMS made your lab’s work more secure or efficient? Comment below and let us know.

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