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informatics in the food and drink industry


beyond business culture and into regional and ethnic.’ He adds that while many people can agree that good project management is the answer, the term is oſten not truly understood – the key lies in effectively managing expectations by communicating regularly. Tis sentiment is echoed by John Gabathuler,


director, Industrial & Environmental at LabWare, who comments that the as a result of the globalisation of the market, the drive towards consolidation and advances in technologies and processes, organisations are having to constantly evolve and adapt to deliver business growth and competitiveness. ‘Te informatics system should facilitate that process rather than become a barrier to growth,’ he says. Te Labware Enterprise Laboratory Platform provides for business, compliance and technology requirements using one fully-integrated laboratory platform and then delivers on an enterprise scale. ‘By providing a single fully-integrated suite


consisting of Labware LIMS and Labware ELN (Electronic Laboratory Notebook), the ability to analyse, capture, check trend and report with full traceability and automation at each step greatly facilitates adherence to national and international regulations,’ Gabathuler explains. He continues by commenting that the Labware solution provides ‘the ability to manage and store complete supply chain testing, including full genealogy from raw materials through to the finished product provides for the highest levels of visibility and assurance required.’ Labware is not the only vendor taking an


integrated approach and as Termo Fisher Scientific’s Colin Turston suggests, ‘Laboratory informatics solutions in the food and drink industry need to be connected from the manufacturing line, through the quality control process in the lab, to the enterprise data systems that contain information about batch approvals, shipments and ordering.’ Termo’s integration platform, Integration Manager, uses a common architecture to connect everything from the instrumentation to the data coming from the manufacturing line. Tis allows users to connect directly to online analysers and compare that data to the information coming out of the lab. Turston explains that the same architecture


enables the exchange of data to ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) soſtware and manufacturing information systems. ‘Because we use a common platform for data interchanges,’ he says, ‘it’s straightforward to connect our solutions to third-party technology – a key advantage given that, for the most part, there is no common standard across different manufacturers. Some people use Oracle ERP, some have SAP and others will have manufacturing execution systems from Honeywell, Yokogawa or


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AspenTech, for example.’ He adds that there is a real heterogeneous landscape in terms of the enterprise systems companies need to connect to and so having a common platform to do all that connectivity makes things much easier. PerkinElmer’s Dale Seabrooke agrees


that there are many good point solutions on the market; however they are limited if not communicating with one another. ‘Integration of those informatics products is key,’ he says, but adds that as systems integration is done, users inevitably find various gaps such as tracking asset utilisation. But there are solutions that can fill those gaps. PerkinElmer’s Ensemble for QA/QC,


WHAT’S IMPORTANT,


IS THAT COMPANIES TAKE THE BEST PRACTICES THEY HAVE AND APPLY THEM TO THEIR ELECTRONIC SOLUTIONS


for example, is a portfolio of products that rests on a common platform. According to Seabrooke, this ensures that they work seamlessly together and with other systems. He notes that the areas of the portfolio customers are most interested in are the LES (Laboratory Execution System) and LIMS solutions, as well as the company’s robust inventory system. Taking a different line, Starlims is one of


the only centralised web-based solutions in the food and drink market. Te company’s Jay Ross explains that while the solution is web based, it feels like a normal application that works in a way users are familiar with. ‘First and foremost,’ he says, ‘the benefit of choosing a web-based product is that it dramatically reduces operating costs. Tere is also no deployment cost which means that companies don’t need to engage their IT departments to get the system installed – users simply open the browser in order to access it.’


From paper to programs Taking things from a business perspective, PerkinElmer has just released Asset Genius, which is designed to get utilisation data from instruments as opposed to analytical results. It details how much an instrument has been used and by whom so that


management can understand the use of their instruments. Seabrooke comments that this will not only impact preventative maintenance costs, but the justification of additional equipment or the redistribution of equipment as well. ‘What’s important,’ he says, ‘is that companies take the best practices they have and apply them to their electronic solutions.’ Another driver towards efficiency and cost


reduction is paper replacement. ‘If people are using paper for routine analysis, either in a log book when tracking the calibration status of an instrument, or a work sheet when doing sample preparation, and then typing that into a LIMS or other system, it will inherently have errors,’ Seabrooke suggests. ‘It also doesn’t allow them to utilise the data in other systems.’ Te PerkinElmer Laboratory Execution System (LES) links a paper replacement tool to pull data from the LIMS, to update a calibration system and check against training records. Seabrooke warns that ‘historically, paper


replacement has been, to a large degree, only done in the pharmaceutical industry, where it’s been a very lengthy and expensive project.’ With this in mind, he says that the reluctance within the food and drink market to adopt a technology that’s seen as a very significant and time-consuming investment is more than understandable. In answer to this, he says: ‘We have spent a lot of time developing a tool that breaks that paradigm by getting companies to take the paper they have, turn it into a PDF and use rapid e-form development and implementation (REDI) and drag controls over, effectively preparing electronic forms in hours rather than days.’ Tese time savings have become more critical


Further information


Accelrys www.accelrys.com


Labware www.labware.com


PerkinElmer www.perkinelmer.com


Starlims www.starlims.com


Thermo Fisher Scientific www.thermofisher.com


in the US since the patent law changed from first to invent, to first to file. According to Accelrys’ Michael Doyle, this change is partly behind the growing need to have document production processes, as it no longer matters who made a discovery; it’s now about who files the paperwork first. A further benefit of moving away from the use of paper notebooks is again highlighted by Doyle, who says: ‘Experiments are expensive and time consuming and in many cases companies find themselves reproducing them as they find it difficult to access paper sources if notebooks are used.’ He concludes by adding that a move towards electronic formats enables companies to reach in, draw trends and search and mine data effectively.


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