In earlier days laboratories used to maintain manual records of stocks of chemicals, instruments, glassware, consumables, receipt, and disposal of samples, analysis results, and workloads. However, today the situation has changed. Sophistication has improved several folds and laboratories have to streamline operations to keep pace with more stringent demands of clients, and provide analysis results and data to government regulatory bodies such as NABL, FSSAI, etc. Increased sample loads have compelled laboratories to automate laboratory operations mainly through the use of auto samplers. Application of system software further helped save time on manual calculations, interpretation and transparency of data.
The real-time benefits could be reaped by the introduction of variants of the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) by several laboratories across the globe. The software proved to be a boon for the flow of information within the laboratory and also to make relevant real-time information available to other sections of the organization as well as to laboratory clients.
The focus of earlier versions of LIMS was sample management but over the years innovations introduced helped reduce operational costs and improve service to clients. On-line access to information by laboratory managers and external clients helped save precious time and take corrective actions in shortest possible time.
Scope of applications
The key applications of LIMS based software include overall cost reduction, saving of time and availability of real-time information by all concerned. The article discusses some of the areas where adoptions of such systems have benefited laboratories.
- Audit trails help authenticate all laboratory activities and verification that such activities were performed by authorized persons only.
- Barcoding of samples and reports helped establish the chain of custody and ownership of samples, and establishing accountability of those responsible for the analysis. It further helped eliminate the personal bias of the analyst responsible for the analysis.
- Control and tracking over the issue, distribution, and disposal of documents.
- Sample storage records for specified periods post analysis.
- Control over stability data generated for various products under study.
- Inventory control over glassware, chemicals, working standards, reference materials and instrument spares.
- Inventory control over international standards such as USP, BP, BIS, ASTM, etc.
- Records of calibration and maintenance of instruments including warning messages when calibration or maintenance becomes due.
- Distribution of workloads to different analysts on day to day basis.
- Control disaster management for recovery of data from a distant location in the event of mishaps, instrument failures, and other accidents.
- Report archival and instant logging on client previous sample analysis history.
- Generation of Universal Lab Report (ULR) Number which can be tracked by National accreditation laboratories such as NABL.
- Laboratories face audits from time to time of Government bodies and Private companies. The data presented can be authenticated with great ease with the help of such laboratory information management systems.
The scope of Laboratory Information Management Software variants is virtually unlimited and their complete exploitation and utilization depend on the needs and innovativeness of the laboratory’s technical manpower. A laboratory can effectively outshine completion with ease by adopting such versatile systems.