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Picking up the pace at PLA


Robert Roe discovers that


data integrity,


process improvement, and managing data are key challenges for informatics providers ‘finding the speed to innovate’


F


inding the speed to innovate requires more than just the introduction of technology, as the attendees of the Paperless Lab


Academy, held in Barcelona, Spain, learned during the conference. Real innovation requires users to change their mindset, to manage the adoption of new technologies efficiently and, in some cases, to redefine how and why informatics data is captured. During the opening sessions Peter


Boogaard, the chairman of the Paperless Lab Academy, stressed that one of the most significant trends in the industry today is implementing practical strategies to convert scientific data into business value. Boogaard said: ‘Automated self-


documenting data capturing processes are becoming the standard best practice


to increase data integrity. Using non- invasive, end-to-end strategies to create a full traceable process will connect science to operational excellence. Technology will be critical, but our ability to change our mind-set to enable this cross functional collaboration will be the real challenge.’ Changing one’s mindset may seem trivial,


but changing the mindset of an entire organisation is a difficult task. Realising the benefits of paperless technologies requires both scientists and management to understand the potential for added value. Tis must be demonstrable, both in terms of, time to science, but also through potential economic impact created by more efficient operations, Boogaard said.


Increasing data integrity Once a strategy has been selected, implementation can take considerable time, resources and even additional staff training. On top of this is another layer of complexity specifically associated with paperless technologies in the laboratory, the requirements of data integrity and its impact on the validation and quality control process. Recent clarification from the European


Commission on personal data protection will more accurately apply existing standards to include paperless technologies as part of a validation process. At the very least, paperless technologies need to be able to supply the same level of validation as the paper-based technologies that they replace.


Management complexities Another aspect of laboratory automation is the complex relationship between instrumentation and data repositories. Te current system uses many different proprietary file formats, so that information is locked into an application. Today’s reality for many laboratories is a half-hearted attempt to implement paperless


26 SCIENTIFIC COMPUTING WORLD


technology. Tis generally includes some form of LIMS/ELN and some level of integration with laboratory instruments, each with their own data or file formats. Tis combination of different file formats makes managing these different streams of data much more difficult. To combat this increase in complexity, there


are two major strategies to streamline data acquisition and management. Te first, the SiLA consortium, focuses on a single, unified format for laboratory instrument data. Te second, called the Allotrope Foundation,


ONCE A STRATEGY HAS BEEN SELECTED, IMPLEMENTATION CAN TAKE CONSIDERABLE TIME


is a pre-competitive consortium to design a ‘laboratory framework’ to improve the efficiency of data acquisition. Te SiLA consortium aims to establish


international standards for connectivity in lab automation. So far this work is taking shape as a new interface and data management standard that allows rapid integration of lab automation systems. Burkhard Schaefer, president of BSSN


Soſtware, stressed that the current system used in laboratories uses many proprietary data formats, making it more complicated than it needs to be. Schaefer said: ‘Today everything is file-based. We are moving files around, butwhy these files? We have infrastructures in place, communication protocols, integration busses and so on. Why don’t we learn from the way that others are doing it, how other industries are doing it and use cutting-edge technologies?’ Te SiLA consortium aims to streamline


the use of different types of laboratory instrumentation by using this new platform to collect data from a number of different


@scwmagazine l www.scientific-computing.com


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