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laboratory informatics

LabVantage LIMS: e-Sample flow allows for tasks to be assigned to individuals or groups, and can drive the user through the associated steps in a task ➤

manufacturing practices [CGMP],’ she says. ‘Te LIMS complies with all of these... We now talk about how we couldn’t function without LIMS, and this one has been an easy way to get everything on the same page.’ As Reynaud outlines it, their LIMS is a

cloud-based system, which suits her company


very well. ‘Tis isn’t the kind of stodgy old system that costs you $20,000 to just get the design and then you need a dedicated PC to run it and have all the back-up,’ she says. ‘It helps us store all of our data without having to worry about huge IT infrastructure.’ ‘LIMS can be very complex and expensive,

but for a small company likes ours, this one is feasible,’ she adds. As Reynaud explains, the LIMS logs all

client information – from contact information Informatics in action

Dr Nicola Wilson heads up a team of microbiologists at UK-based Westward Laboratories, who test a host of finished food products, including ready-meals, sandwiches, cooked pies, and desserts. Carrying out more than 30,000 microbiological tests and 7,000 pathogen tests every month, the team uses Matrix Gemini LIMS, developed by UK-based Autoscribe, together with a laboratory automation system from Kiestra Lab Automation, The Netherlands,

to handle the lab’s automation and analytical needs. As Wilson explains, samples are

fully barcoded by the LIMS -- which provides all information on that sample as well as required tests -- and then placed in cold storage. Prior to testing, the microbiologists scan the sample through a virtual fridge, so they can track the time the sample was tested and who tested it. During automated testing, all

relevant sample carriers passing through the Kiestra line are barcoded


via the LIMS, so test results can easily be inputted against the correct sample. Real-time barcoding has reduced transcription error rates to only one in 36 trillion characters and importantly for Wilson, the system has also helped the laboratory become paperless. ‘We use the LIMS for pretty much everything, not just pulling off data from our testing, but also generating reports,’ she says. ‘You log in and log out of the system, which from a traceability point of view is key, we

use it for data capture and analysis, and we can export data to Crystal Reports [a business intelligence application] for trending, which is hugely important to our customers.’ Crucially, the system speeds up the flow of data from the laboratory to Westward’s customers. ‘It’s a challenge to use data in a meaningful way, and get the most from your data,’ adds Wilson. ‘But with LIMS we can quickly get that data from the lab to the customer in a format that they can work with.’

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to sample and test data – that is inputted to the company website, enabling employees to track information easily. ‘If somebody takes a gel picture of the DNA, they can upload it to GoLIMS... provide a sample number and see everything that has ever happened to that sample within seconds,’ she says. Given these benefits and the system’s cost-

effectiveness, Reynaud reckons, given time, cloud-based LIMS will become more popular. ‘We work on Macs and our laboratory notebooks are iPads,’ she highlights. ‘We can enter information from here or anywhere, monitor what’s going on in the lab and see results in a real-time scenario. Tis has allowed us to work more efficiently and flexibly.’

The need for speed US-based LabVantage has been developing laboratory informatics systems for more than 30 years, having recently released LabVantage7, which it describes as the most flexible LIMS in the market. Te company’s clients include food and beverage industry heavyweights, such as Britvic, American Crystal Sugar, Danone, Dairygold, and Chobani Yogurt, and according to senior

product manager, Dan Call, his business is all about speed. ‘In a food and beverage manufacturing

environment, things are moving really fast,’ he says. ‘I walked through a dairy plant recently and it’s incredible the number of gallons of milk that are produced every day, labelled and sent out of the door.’ ‘Be it yogurt, milk, butter, or meat, the

product has a very short shelf-life and time is critical,’ he adds. ‘So manufacturers are always looking to increase productivity and improve the quality of their product and what they are doing in the laboratory.’ As a result, Call is adamant that a crucial

part of any LIMS system is to integrate seamlessly with a manufacturer’s enterprise system. A typical client’s company will be spread across several sites, have centralised systems, and will want to deal with data in real time. ‘Interfacing with enterprise resource

planning and manufacturing execution systems is key and the LIMS must provide real-time communication,’ he says. ‘If you’re manufacturing really fast and it takes an hour to get information on, say, a specification failure back to a line, then you could end up


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