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LABORATORY INFORMATICS


Transforming the laboratory


SOPHIA KTORI CONCLUDES HER TWO-PART FEATURE ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF LIMS AND ELN TECHNOLOGY


evolve to enable true digital transformation at the laboratory, and ultimately enterprise scale, comments Richard Milne, vice president, general manager for digital science at Thermo Fisher Scientific. ‘This is a much bigger concept than just the development of LIMS software applications, although the software sits in the middle of it,’ he said. More broadly, the goal is to be able to


Digital transformation continues to impact our lives in ways we previously couldn’t have imagined,


comments Trish Meek, director of marketing at Thermo Fisher Scientific. ‘The connected devices we see in the consumer world are influencing how we think about the communication of instruments, software and platforms. From a user’s perspective, information should pass effortlessly between platforms and devices, with no need for the user to intervene.’ This drive to interconnectivity is similarly impacting on the evolution of informatics systems for laboratories. ‘The goal for Thermo Fisher Scientific is to develop platforms that will enable complete laboratory integration and connectivity, and this impacts on how software systems such as LIMS, electronic laboratory notebook and scientific data management system (SDMS) software will be designed,’ Meek states. To this end, the firm foresees a laboratory


infrastructure supported by an end-to- end data management system, derived from a LIMS-type infrastructure, which can connect scientific data and insights with the management of instruments, and consumables through the scientific workflow. ‘We are at an exciting time, where technology has evolved to where we can help our customers create a connected ecosystem that accelerates science and enables laboratory productivity,’ she said.


LIMS evolution This overarching ecosystem won’t make LIMS systems obsolete – all laboratories will need an effective functionality for managing samples, instruments and test scheduling – but such software will have to


16 Scientific Computing World April/May 2019


deploy digital technologies to accelerate the efficiency of science through the automated flow of data between parties as quickly as possible, and also to drive increased productivity from assets, including lab instrumentation, software packages and people. ‘Our customers are still buying software


products, such as LIMS, as point solutions, but are increasingly interested in the concept of working more holistically across the four basic pillars of a lab, which are the software, the instruments, the consumables/reagents, and services,’ Milne continues. ‘No one piece of equipment, or software, is going to achieve this process efficiency across the lab, it will be a combinatorial effort and effect, and we are being asked how can LIMS capabilities be used to connect instrumentation, manage assets and plug into service arrangements,’ effectively, how the utilisation of man and machines can be optimised to derive maximum value from hardware, software and the resulting data. It is this interconnectivity that will underpin lab management, and which is


the driver for Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Platform for Science model, Milne notes. The firm is working with customers to develop and implement practical offerings of digital transformation through an evolved LIMS infrastructure. Importantly, Milne says, that shift to holistic lab management, integration and communication will commonly have to be retrofit.


‘It’s simply not feasible to rip and replace,


so digital transformation must be relevant to established, multi-vendor-installed brownfield sites. ‘The platform that we are developing will support different deployment spaces, which will then allow instrument connectivity, so that both the scientific data and the telemetric data from every type of instrumentation and lab machine can be moved up into the software environment, and then piped to wherever it will demonstrate most efficiency or best effect.’ Move away from the technological issues


associated with evolving a laboratory software substructure that can act as the central point for interconnectivity and communication, and the hurdles are largely business- and mindset-related, he continues.


‘Companies need to focus on their


organisational dynamics, and implement forward-thinking executive oversight and leadership. We are seeing a high level of involvement in such initiatives in the pharma industry, where the benefits of seamless interconnectivity on laboratory operation and efficiency are evident.’


 LabWare Software helps users track laboratory workflows @scwmagazine | www.scientific-computing.com


Labware


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