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Exploring LIMS Integrations and Interfaces

Contributors: Michael Lanewala

The Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) is a vital part of the laboratory for any company for its capability to do many things in the lab, such as manage workflows, turnaround times (TAT), specification requirements, and calculations as well as store a substantial amount of data with efficiency and accuracy for day-to-day operations. The fast-paced world we live in pushes for more data, more speed, and more accuracy; therefore, LIMS systems are becoming more complex with interfaces and integrations. In this piece, we explore LIMS integrations and interfaces and what companies need to consider as they make decisions for their day-to-day laboratory operations. 

Integration with ERP 

An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) aids in running several aspects of the company, from financials and human resources to manufacturing and supply chain. Setting up your LIMS system to integrate with an ERP provides a seamless way to transmit batches or analysis orders to the laboratory with the push of a button.  This eliminates the time for communicating that the batch or lot is ready for analysis and removes the need for manual logging of batches or lots, which makes this process faster and more efficient. Once the laboratory processes are analyzed and reviewed, the final status can then be sent back to the ERP for tracking.   

Integration with Advanced Analytics 

The increase in efficiency and accuracy leads to more throughput, which means more data.  Systems are being used to help analyze the data using advanced analytics or Statistical Analysis Software (SAS). LIMS can also integrate with the SAS software taking the raw data from testing in the laboratory, communicating that to the SAS system and sending calculated values back into LIMS to then be used for trending or reporting. As LIMS solutions evolve with the need for more technology, LabWare and LabVantage have created modules to be used within their respective LIMS, allowing for a seamless method for advanced analytics. 

Integration with Simple Instruments 

Simple Instruments, such as a balance or a pH meter, can be linked directly to a LIMS with little effort on set up. The simple instruments can be set up to communicate using an Internet Protocol (IP) address and host port to promote communication between LIMS and the instrument. Once the communication is defined, a parsing can be done on the output to ensure the return of the value desired. The analyst in the lab then would click a button in LIMS to pull the value from the instrument to LIMS. This reduces the risk of transcription errors and increases efficiency. 

Interfacing with Complex Instruments 

More Complex Instruments, such as an LCMS (Liquid Chromotography Mass Spectrometry) or qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction) instrument, could be interfaced using one of several methods, depending on the technology on the instrument and your LIMS system. One way is through a Scientific Data Management System (SDMS) that allows for interfacing and management of instruments.  This is one of the more robust solutions when it comes to interfacing a complex instrument that most commercial LIMS systems offer.  Another option would be to do a parsing script using a LIMS CI or a LabStation approach. This is less complex but very effective for swiftly moving instrument data into LIMS. 

Interfacing with LIMS 

The industries using LIMS are growing rapidly and companies are seeking ways to increase efficiencies in the laboratory while mitigating errors. Integrations and interfaces reduce risk by removing the possibility of transcription errors when copying data from one source to another and by pushing analysis orders directly from the ERP, thus saving time and costs in the laboratory 

Clarkston’s LIMS experts have years of experience in these areas and can help you with your interfacing needs. Reach out to us today. 

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Tags: LIMS