Published September 15, 2018
Technology continues to infiltrate deeply into every corner of society today, and even those within the enclosures of laboratories around the world are feeling it. The time when you used to babysit your experiments right from sample preparation to results analysis is now changing thanks to the automation of routine laboratory procedures.
Simple repetitive tasks like pipetting and moving samples around have now been taken over by automated robotic systems. Paper notebooks have been replaced by software programs, and cloud computing platforms offer excellent tracking and coordination of all lab systems in real time.
As technology progresses, new lab management strategies need to be implemented, and this is the reason behind a number of IT trends for running labs that you see today. The current digital transformation is geared to bring about data integrity, greater efficiency, and economical use of resources and workers safety.
Electronic lab notebooks
Electronic lab notebooks were created to replace paper and digitize record keeping processes in the lab. ELN’s document research experiments and procedures in a systematic, safe and efficient way.
Unlike in the past, ELNs are increasingly becoming cloud-based which means that researchers can now collaborate in real-time eliminating barriers of data exchange and communication in the lab.
There are several ELN solutions in the market including the lab animal management software at Studylog which is being used by different labs to run and manage animal studies.
A good ELN is one that provides a good user experience, compatibility with multiple devices, operating systems and browsers as well as use good business models and pricing.
Laboratory information management systems
The amount of data that is generated by high throughput systems in laboratories today is enormous. This makes it difficult to track data that is associated with a particular sample throughout the process.
Having a LIMS in place provides an automatic way of logging in samples, grouping them by different attributes and even creating batches and work lists.
Furthermore, they generate testing and tracking schedules as the samples move from one department to another as well as log the data from testing instruments.
This goes a long way in addressing the challenges of low productivity and errors.
Scientific data management systems
With increased levels of automation in your lab, you get to analyze large numbers of samples which in turn generate huge volumes of scientific data. Unlike LIMS which is designed to handle structured, homogenous data, SDMS is designed to handle unstructured, heterogeneous data including the ones from LIMS and ELN.
This is very useful in research and development units where data consolidation, knowledge management and knowledge asset realization is important. With this, you can manage workflows, retrieve work lists, interact with lab instruments in real time, validate other IT systems as well as analyze and create reports on lab instrument functions.
The laboratory informatics landscape is highly evolving and integration, which is the foundation of automation, is a new trend that brings all available tools to work and communicate together. Multi-disciplinary platforms that are secure and easy to use will continue to drive collaborative research in different laboratories globally.
For this reason, ELN, LIMS, and SDMS should be incorporated with other web-based tracking tools like Clockspot which allows you to track your lab teams from anywhere and manage documentation in real-time.
Scientific laboratories have for a long time been associated with laborious, time-consuming tasks. However, technology is revolutionizing this sector as many of them are embracing the use of life-changing technologies with customized features, workflows and report outputs. Experiments are now consistent, flexible, take shorter times and attract fewer costs because of automation and robotics technology. This requires efficient lab management strategies that current lab IT trends are trying to provide.