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Building a Smart Laboratory 2017


providing facilities for the management and storage of other documents associated with laboratory operations (worksheets, SOPs, safety information, reports, PDFs, office documents, images, etc.), an SDMS can in practice evolve into a more comprehensive single informatics solution for some laboratories. However, an SDMS is essentially an ‘event-driven’ system that gathers data, which may limit some of its capabilities relative to the other informatics tools, and is therefore more frequently seen as a system that is complementary to a LIMS or an ELN. Nevertheless, the principle on which


the SDMS is based is that it aggregates records into a logical collection associated with a specific entity such as a programme, project, experiment, product, or sample, to provide a readily accessible collection of relevant information. Embedded into an SDMS will also be the means to provide appropriate security of the records by means of access control, audit trail, authorisation, and change management.


What is a laboratory execution system (LES)?


A laboratory execution system (LES) sits somewhere between an ELN and a LIMS in terms of the functionality it delivers,


Information: Laboratory informatics tools


but its existence is typically targeted at analytical service and quality control laboratories where high-volume workflows and regulatory compliance are primary business requirements. In a very basic sense, the underlying logical structure of an LES is almost identical to a LIMS, but the user interface is procedure-centric, rather than the usual sample-centric approach found in a LIMS. Tis allows a standard laboratory operating procedure (SOP) to be executed in an automated way, usually by interaction with laboratory instruments interfaced to the LES (where possible) in order to capture data without the need for transcription. Calculations on the captured data can be performed in the system, and thus the automated approach can eliminate two potential sources of error. Te concept of a ‘paperless lab’ is a specific objective of the LES, eliminating the use of paper either for intermediate recording of data, or for longer- term record keeping and archival purposes. Te LES is designed to adhere to


laboratory workflows and provides a more repeatable and structured approach to quantitative testing procedures to help ensure compliance. Te user interface usually takes the form of an electronic equivalent to the paper version of a laboratory standard operating procedure or worksheet. Tis type of interface is oſten referred as ‘paper on glass’, a term also


Fig. 5: Broad vs. deep


Broad functions Records, patents,


cross-discipline collaboration


used for a generic electronic laboratory notebook. Most LES applications can be readily configured to support alternative laboratory workflows in a way that relates closely to traditional paper-based processes. Worksheets can be converted to electronic forms; standard operating procedures can be configured with appropriate data entry points, with data checking; and unique workflows can be mapped to support repetitive and routine procedures. As with other laboratory informatics


systems, the underlying information technologies can extend an LES to a broader range of capabilities. For this reason, the LES can, in some cases, serve as an alternative to a LIMS, an ELN, or an SDMS. As with each of the major laboratory informatics tools, purchasing and implementation decisions require a thorough understanding of the laboratory’s functional requirements. However, it is more likely that the LES will be seen as complementary to ERP and QM systems where high-throughput QA is an essential step in a business process.


What is an electronic laboratory notebook (ELN)?


In its simplest form, an electronic laboratory notebook can be considered to be a direct replacement for the paper lab notebook. In this instance, it can provide the generic functionality (‘paper on glass’) to support scientific documentation for patent evidence, cross-discipline collaboration, and general


www.scientific-computing.com/BASL2017 23


Science photo/Shutterstock.com


Chemists Biologists Analysts


Other discipline Other discipline


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