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LIMS and the environment

ability to deal with complex “limit checking” of the results based on the results for the same sampling point over the previous 12 months.’

Traceability and accuracy ‘There is also interest in inventory management of sample equipment, for example, tracking which batch of bottles is used for which samples,’ he adds. This is important, because if one batch is found to be contaminated the lab can easily see which samples might be affected. Similarly, he continues, it is important to

ensure that instruments are serviced on time and only by people with the appropriate training to do so. This extends to keeping track of who has

been involved with a sample at every step. As John Gabathuler, director, industrial and environmental at LabWare, explains: ‘Informatics ensures that quality procedures and industry best practice are followed; that data is captured in detail, accurately, effi ciently, and with full traceability; that data and information are readily and conveniently available to those who need it for analysis, interpretation and publication; and that when things need following up that investigation and corrective actions are triggered and followed effectively.’ One of LabWare’s customers is ARPA

Veneto, the Environmental Protection Agency for the region around Venice, Italy. According to the organisation, before the introduction of the LabWare LIMS, a lot of paper was used to transfer results between the laboratory and the administration team, which involved many double checks when transcribing and re-keying in data. Now, wherever possible, analytical data is captured from the instrumentation or entered directly by the analyst that performs the analysis. There is also automatic limit checking to alert analysts immediately if there are any errors or anomalies.

Compliance Such features in a LIMS are particularly valuable as laboratory processes and results need to comply with increasingly- stringent regulations. ‘New requirements have resulted in

more rigorous and complex standards for environmental testing in laboratories. These regulations outline a set of protocols that dictate what is acceptable for the daily processes within a multi-water laboratory in accordance with internationally-accepted standards,’ observes Donna Reioux, quality

Thermo Fisher Scientifi c’s LIMS is used to monitor emissions, for example INFORMATICS ENSURES THAT QUALITY PROCEDURES AND INDUSTRY


manager of Nova, a water-testing company and Thermo Fisher Scientifi c customer. ‘The demands for data security and

integrity, compliance with regulatory requirements, sample management and result reporting mean that today’s environmental lab needs a software solution in order to be able to operate effi ciently and effectively,’ agrees Thurston of Thermo Fisher Scientifi c. ‘Our LIMS allows companies to meet their regulatory requirements, such as checking against legal contaminant limits, releasing materials, and issuing alerts. The LIMS also directly interfaces with enterprise systems such as ERP and data warehouse software so that companies operate effi ciently and are able to analyse the data produced throughout their operations comprehensively.’

Making connections Integration with other systems is another key requirement of the modern LIMS. ‘Getting systems to talk to each other is important,’ says Loaring of LabLogic Systems. ‘Interfacing directly with instrumentation avoids transcription errors and saves time.’ Gabathuler of LabWare adds that:

‘Integration of a LIMS/ELN with high throughput expensive instruments and robotics is vital, as is integration with other business applications as required.’

He also noted the value in many cases of integrating data collection with geographical information. ‘Many of our environmental commercial

laboratory customers provide browser access to LabWare LIMS information to submit samples, monitor status and get results. And some government agencies keen to publicise their environmental improvement credentials make sea water, air quality, etc results from LabWare LIMS publically- available via their websites,’ he continued.

Single systems Such trends towards greater integration are going on across the industry. Version 6 of LabLogic’s Debra LIMS was released in October. ‘We saw people wanting to centralise data across different research sites but also to be able to differentiate between sites,’ says Loaring of LabLogic Systems. ‘Now, with our LIMS, a lab in New Jersey can choose for the system not to display the results from, for example, the company’s lab in Germany, although they are in the same database. It can also differentiate between different types of labs and analyses. This will help IT staff as they don’t have to maintain separate systems.’ This was an important criteria for

Thermo Fisher Scientifi c’s customer Nova DECEMBER 2011/JANUARY 2012 9

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