LIMS Software – PRACTICAL DATABASE FOR YOUR LABORATORY
for data collection, preparation / merging, administration & evaluation
Laboratories and general quality tests are often very individualistic – both in terms of their fields of activity and their established process flow. Software programs such as Microsoft Office / MS Excel often touch their limits, lacking individuality. For this reason, specialized systems – the so-called LIMS software solutions – have established themselves on the market. They support laboratories of all types and sizes in the organization, management, and administration of their daily working process, as well as the evaluation of all data.
What is a LIMS software system?
The term LIMS is an established term and means Laboratory Information and Management System. The precise definition for the IT application LIMS software depends on its individualistic use in each laboratory. LIMS are only standardized to a certain point since they are to be used in different fields. They can also be customized to suit specific applications and requirements.
However, all varieties of the application range can find a common denominator in the following definition:
A laboratory information and management system (LIMS) is an IT application that supports laboratory operations. Its purpose is to suit the administrative and coordinating tasks of sample processing and management, taking care of the data-recording and evaluation.
LIMS software work within a generic workflow due to their pre-structured, standardized, and generic form for different industries. Their working steps lead back to a sample registration to the specific purpose of the analysis. At the same time, a LIMS software will consider the data acquisition, the measurement results, evaluation, as well as the reporting.
In the best case, a LIMS software offers a complete solution, which can be adapted to the required functions and to the specific needs of your laboratory. This has to be considered in the consulting process for expanses planning – use now our standard solution software!
Deciding to get a LIMS software’s help cannot just be justified by rational considerations. Due to its wide range of competence, completely different matters are involved in such a choice:
- Documentation requirements, audit obligations, traceability
- Early detection of quality problems
- Chance to take countermeasures in time
- The company, customers, and partners have high accessibility to the laboratory data and research database.
LIMS software and its users
The most significant need for a lab technician is the software’s functionality. He needs such a reliable, structured, and open system. The following functions are the benefits:
- Order management and sample management
- Specification of the scope of the investigation
- Support for sample distribution and processing
- Data integrity
- Track samples
- Regulatory requirements
- Lab Management
- Results data recording (manual, online)
- Release of test results
- Real-time data import and analysis
- Reporting / Evaluation
There is a multitude of further functions that are offered in the LIMS software basic package or as an extension.
The basis of the LIMS solution is adapted to the individual characteristics of a specific lab during the conception and implementation phase. Depending on their complexity, LIMS systems often evolve during use, up to highly specialized operations. In the beginning, the essential functions are mostly used, which need to be supplemented over time with individual evaluations, statistics, or quality control charts. Besides, such a LIMS system grows by connecting further measuring devices via interfaces.
Lab IT Extensions
- ELN (Electronic Laboratory Notebook)
ELN is a database system for planning and managing experiments in the form of an electronic lab-journal. Its strength concerns the administration of recipes and examinations’ or syntheses’ unstructured data. Dialogue forms are also supported, which are allowed in adapted forms, tables, or sizeable free text fields. Reaction equations or images can also be entered. ELNs are therefore very user-friendly, which are to rely on for detailed research and data development.
- LES (Laboratory Execution System)
LES is a software application for a systematically documented execution of analyses, preparation steps, or reagent production in the laboratory. The user is not only guided in a dialogue with notes or instructions but also prompted to manually or electronically enter the relevant data for the respective work step (SOP-oriented dialogue forms). LES applications are often found in exceptionally strictly regulated areas such as the pharmaceutical industry, but can also be found in other laboratories with high documentation requirements.
- SDMS (Scientific Data Management System)
SDMS is a database application for managing scientific lab-data, such as raw data, result files, and documents. The software applications are often designed for the orderly long-term storage of complex analysis data such as spectra or chromatograms. In addition to data acquisition and transfer, they can also include data visualization and, in some cases, report generation. Besides, SDMS functions can be found in some LIMS products, which often rely on XML-based data storage, such as in the standardized AnIML format (Analytical Information Markup Language).
Database-oriented application systems require powerful IT technology to efficiently support sample processing and to securely collect the resulting data in a structured, evaluable way. this process can be realized through…
…a server system that hosts the LIMS or lab database. It allows the installation of a LIMS application software as well. The database and the application are often distributed over several servers, which can be operated internally or externally by IT service providers. Common products such as ORACLE or MS SQL Server are used as lab-databases. More rarely they count as open-source solutions. Finally, the server hardware is normally meant to be using Windows or UNIX / LINUX server operating systems.
…workstations that are usually connected to the server system via a local network. they are usually operated with MS Windows and offer the user the LIMS application with a graphical user interface. The LIMS is often structured as a client-server program: the application and database part is separated and communicates via a network. Besides, many systems are now completely based on web technologies. As a result, more and more LIMS applications can be operated partly or completely via Web browsers simplifying their use as cloud-based solutions. Finally, many LIMS manufacturers are gradually making application parts available on mobile devices such as tablets.
…a network infrastructure and wide area networks (LAN, WAN) predominantly based on Ethernet. TCP/IP is used as the most common network protocol. Servers and clients are connected via the network infrastructure so that the LIMS user has access to all necessary and released resources.
In addition to these basic components, there are also further aspects of a LIMS implementation. These extend from networking with higher-level planning systems such as ERP or MES to the integration of customers or suppliers via the internet.
The integration of peripherals, especially the connection of analyzers for online data acquisition, represents an important step towards increasing work efficiency and minimizing errors. Furthermore, electronic data exchange with other IT systems in the company offers considerable potential benefits. This includes not only production’s integration planning and warehouse management systems, business-oriented applications, but also external systems, such as those of the customers or for the department administration.