Remote Laboratories: Advantages & Benefits

The emergence of Covid posed a new type of challenge for labs, both in terms of safety and efficient operation. In an un-expected turn of events, labs had to prepare for remote operation, a change that many were unprepared for. A year on, access to the appropriate technical tools can still provide your lab a competitive edge over late adopters.

What did the testing industry learn from the early days of the pan-demic? To stay up to date, labs should always be ready for unex-pected challenges, such as the need to work remotely. If your em-ployees are required to work on-site while ill, illness can spread, result-ing in a ripple effect. On the other hand, if a laboratory cannot perform tasks off-site, it might as well shut down due to the lack of data analy-sis.

Once you manage to run the lab remotely when needed, even the pandemic will not interfere with your efficiency. But how to make sure your processes run smoothly off-site?

A LIMS system, for instance, is suitable for storing samples and evaluating data remotely at the same time. Although many labs are unaware of this, most data-focused processes can be managed from home. If the information management system is cloud-based, the data is on a secure server yet accessible from any device, making it easy to generate reports and analyze product data.

With a mobile LIMS application, even fieldwork can take place without physical access to a lab, given that it can enable rapid and re-liable sampling, testing, and results.

What is a LIMS?

A Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) is software that allows users to manage samples and their associated data more effectively.

A LIMS can help labs with automating their workflows and integrat-ing instruments. You can also get reliable results faster and track data from sequencing runs over time and across multiple experiments to increase efficiency.

Modern genomics is generating an unprecedented amount of da-ta. With increasing data volumes and sample throughput, labs need to modernize their approach to managing, tracking, and centralizing ge-nomics data.

Key benefits of a LIMS

Although the purpose of a LIMS is to track and manage samples, it can do much more. It can automate workflows, which in turn can re-duce human error. LIMS can centralize the storage of quality control data, support regulatory compliance, track reagents and batches monitor instrument runs, initiate downstream data analyses, and inte-grate with instruments or other systems in the lab to improve efficien-cy.

Cloud-based LIMS provides a higher degree of flexibility for em-ployees. An important aspect is the possibility to work from multiple geographical locations, which can increase the capacity of the work-ers and the number of working hours. Also, fewer workers on-site re-sult in lower maintenance costs for your lab’s infrastructure. But where and how can you access LIMS to reap its benefits?

LabShare offers customers a cloud-based LIMS system, as well as access to an online marketplace to manage their day-to-day work. If you haven’t tried our platform yet, here’s your chance to increase your lab’s effectiveness and ensure your brand continues to grow with us-er-friendly solutions.

If you haven’t already, visit LabShare’s platform and sign up. It is for free! Keep your lab up-to-date and compatible with modern times - we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Potential issues tackled with the use of a LIMS

Laboratories must maintain complicated workflows. The laboratory information management system (LIMS) is a practical solution to juggle complex data, equipment, system access, label-ing, sample tracking, and communications within the lab.

If a lab is struggling with some of these tasks, it is time for them to integrate a laboratory information management system. LIMS provides a solution to common lab problems with numerous features.

Data security issues

With the ever-present threat of cyberattacks and data breaches, it is imperative to store data securely. Today, a LIMS ensures the high-est level of security and protection.

Data entry errors

In most labs today, experiments generate more data than what can be managed and analyzed. Manual analysis methods can lead to missing trends or errors in your data sets. With a proper LIMS, compa-nies can solve these issues by structuring data in a searchable data-base that provides simple tools for collecting large amounts of raw da-ta.

Error-prone sample tracking

Clinical samples must have reliable sample tracking. Poor sample management leads to delayed clinical reporting or even the loss of samples. Errors and delays will always occur if you rely on handwritten labels or manual sample tracking with generic tools like Microsoft Ex-cel or Google Sheets. On the other hand, sample tracking software can seamlessly manage test assignments. Using LIMS software to create, print, and scan barcode labels can reduce this risk.

Improper care of laboratory equipment

Lab equipment is critical to the workflow. However, it can be chal-lenging to keep track of the equipment that needs to be calibrated and maintained regularly. Failure can lead to breakdowns that cost your lab additional money and time.

Ineffective workflow management

When processing a sample, your lab needs to achieve an accu-rate, reproducible result. Using an outdated Standard Operating Pro-cedure (SOP) can lead to inaccurate results that can be disastrous. If you instead use a LIMS to manage procedures performed during the sample test, you can ensure that no avoidable errors occur.

Miscommunication within the laboratory

Sample testing is a complicated process performed by many peo-ple. It is essential to use standardized communication methods to en-sure accurate results. Using a LIMS to record all actions performed during the sampling can provide effective workflow management that ensures no misunderstandings occur.

Key LIMS trends in the 2020s

Labs in various industries still prefer paperwork to con-duct research and stick with their status quo. However, digital transformation is the driving force in most industries to improve their operations. In laboratories, this manifests in the automation of the regular processes.

As part of this digital revolution, labs have implemented Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS). These enable researchers to automate tasks, data entry, and management.

An important innovation is smart data management which relies on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms. From predictive analytics to data aggregation, these methods aid managers in making decisions based on insights that would have re-quired tedious calculations.

Algorithms benefit every field, biopharmaceutical companies in particular, where they can accelerate product development and the output of innovative drugs for patients. Algorithms offer solutions from observed patterns by using data sets from previous research.

LIMS and other digital solutions come with their own set of chal-lenges. The main one among these is cybersecurity. Many systems store data in cloud systems and rely on connected devices, which re-quire extra security measures. Thus, cybersecurity remains crucial to the application of digital systems. By investing in technologies that provide optimal security, companies can safeguard sensitive data.

Mobile LIMS-class systems are also in demand, providing great-er mobility within and outside the lab. In recent years, even mobile ap-plications have become available, enabling scientists to perform stud-ies in the field. In this way, researchers enjoy more connectivity with-out sacrificing research quality.

LIMS-class systems provide holistic lab connectivity across work-stations, devices, and data sources, while cloud databases allow staff to maintain robust systems. This enables diverse integrations, data management, and analytics.

Preconfigured systems are also capable of shortening process-es, thus improving lab workflows and helping labs to reach ROI much faster than before. Labs increasingly prefer preconfigured solutions with industry-standard features to shorten the time to market and de-liver immediate results.

Just like in various other fields, research is supported by augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) solutions. These provide scientists with a digital interface, displaying information at eye level in a mixed reality environment.

Some labs also employ telemetry data from instruments, which increase uptime by predicting when parts will fail. It helps when replac-ing or scheduling maintenance on items reaching the end of their use-ful life. Users can perform routine maintenance using augmented reali-ty technology, eliminating the need for a printed manual.

Finally, quality control will no longer happen at the end of produc-tion. Instead, Key Performance Indicator (KPI) checks will be per-formed throughout the entire process. This approach allows for the management of errors without affecting other procedures, reducing waste and delays in production.

What does the future hold for the LIMS mar-ket?

According to the latest analysis report, the laboratory in-formation management systems (LIMS) market is expected to grow globally. Currently, North America holds the largest share of the market, but Europe is not far behind.

The market size was approximately USD 1,321 million in 2019. Further growth is expected at a CAGR of 9.2%, and the market will reach approximately USD 2,446 million by 2026.

Leading manufacturers include Abbott Laboratories, LabLynx Inc, Promium LLC, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc, Novatek International, Siemens Group SA, LabWare, and Autoscribe Informatics.

The increasing use of LIMS has proved that paper-based man-agement of records and analysis of results no longer meet the needs of laboratories. As a result, there has been an enormous increase in demand for LIMS adoption at all levels.

Emerging markets across the globe

North America held the largest market share in 2019, followed by Europe. The strong economies of the United States and Canada have encouraged significant investment in new technologies, expansion of biobanks, easy availability of LIMS goods and services, and introduc-tion of stringent requirements across a wide range of industries.

Due to the growing number of LIMS-providing Contact Research Organizations (CROs) in this area, the market in the Asia Pacific is ex-pected to grow at the fastest rate during the forecast period.

China is also a global market for LIMS and will reach millions of USD by 2028. Other significant Asian Pacific markets, such as Japan and South Korea, are expected to grow at similar rates over the next five years.

India, Japan, Singapore, Brazil, and Middle Eastern countries are major upcoming markets for LIMS. However, these markets lack prop-er standards and government regulations. Several biopharma players are also shifting their manufacturing plants to Asia for low-cost produc-tion, creating significant demand for informatics solutions in Asian countries.

Challenges in adoption

Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are under enor-mous pressure to comply with strict regulatory guidelines before bring-ing new drugs to market. Due to data management concerns, labora-tories are increasingly adopting LIMS to streamline their workflows.

On the other hand, the high maintenance and service costs of LIMS are major restraints in this market, amounting to almost 20–30% of the total cost of ownership. In addition, training and implementation costs represent around 15% of the actual price.

Owing to these factors, many small and medium-sized laboratories find it difficult to invest in these systems, thereby limiting their adop-tion. With the emergence of cloud-based LIMS offerings, the effect of this restraint is expected to decrease in the coming years.