LabCloud was proud to attend the Bio-IT World Conference & Expo in Boston from April 9-11th of this year. It was a fantactic event and we were grateful to have had the opportunity to connect with so many excellent colleagues in the Biotech and IT industries. It is clear that the necessity of an integrated lab is a fundamental component of the direction the industry is heading and we look forward to continually working with the community and determining how we can make this goal a reality to our clients.
As scientists, we want to create knowledge and understanding for ourselves and our peers; we're not looking to scour records or spend hours on the computer doing research. But it is clear that given the volume of information that needs to be referenced, a laboratory informatics project that is focused on delivering a satisfactory ROI is going to streamline the way that data can be accessed and interpreted. This prevents redundancy and maximizes the potential value of any previous work that may have been overlooked at first glance.
With all of this information going in, it has become apparent that there might be more value in what is coming out, so to speak. The so-called "Big Data" problem is coming squarely into view, and the need is growing to delve deeper into the knowledge base in order to visualise and interpret relationships and correlations. We're going to look deeper into the hole and have to have enough light to see what's there. And it's better to have a bright flashlight, in the form of a single platform that incorporates the functionality of all the necessary lab software tools (ELN, LIMS, SDMS) rather than strike a few matches using them one at a time.
It has become clear for some time that the ability of a lab to work as an integrated unit has a direct impact of the success of any project and the bottom line of any organization; the question is where to get started and what key factors need to be identified to implement the most effective solution possible.
As we know, the purpose of integration in the lab is to make it easier to connect systems; for example, passing results from a chromatography data system to a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) or Electronic Laboratory Notebook (ELN) and then on to other groups, resulting in:
Smoother workflow - less manual effort, avoiding duplication of data entry, this is something that people are striving for and accomplishing in production environments including manufacturing, video production and graphics design
Easier path for meeting regulatory requirements - an integrated system provided by a vendor should be easy to validate and maintain
Reduced cost of development and support
Reduction in duplication of records, better data management
More flexibility - an integrated system built on modular components will make it easier to upgrade/update systems, and meet changing requirements
The absence of unified vendor provided mechanisms result in higher development and support costs, increased regulatory burden, and reduced likelihood that projects will be successful. Efforts to go paperless and collaborate using ELNs, LIMS and SDMS have certainly provided benefits but fall short of delivering the top-down integrated functionality labs really need, resulting in disjointed and inefficient collaboration. LabCloud was created with these considerations in mind, aiming at two overarching goals from the beginning;
that a given piece of information is entered once, and then is available throughout the system, restricted only by access privileges. The word 'system' is the summation of all the information handling equipment in the lab. It may extend beyond the lab if process connections to other departments are needed.
the movement of materials (sample prep for example) and data / information is continuous from the start of a process through to the end of that process without the need for human effort. The sequence doesn't have to wait for someone to do a manual portion of the process in order for it to continue, aside from policy conditions that require checks, reviews, and approvals before subsequent steps are taken.
LabCloud was designed to result in a better place for people to work. People shouldn't be used as a means of achieving repetitive work. Doing so results in two problems: people get bored and make mistakes (some minor, some not, both of which contribute to variability in results), and, the progress of work (productivity) is dependant on human effort which may limit the number of hours that a process can operate. It is also a bad way of using intelligent, trained personnel. By overcoming the current limitations found in the workplace, there will be a subsequent change in mindset on the part of lab management and those working in the labs, yielding higher productivity, a better working environment, with an improvement in the return of an organization's investment in lab operations. The goal is to allow personnel to leverage their work collectively with that of their colleagues and thus their organization as a whole. Laboratory systems need to be designed to be effective and LabCloud was created to do exactly that.