Computing World covers STARLIMS Installation at Provimi
installing and implementing a LIMS within a large modern laboratory is no
small task. Freek Rooze describes such a process undertaken by the Provimi
laboratory in the Netherlands.
When Cass van
den Beld became Laboratory and Quality Control Manager at Provimi in 1994,
he knew he was taking on a difficult assignment: “to turn the laboratory
into a department that will meet all current and future standards for
quality - one that will offer definite advantages for both internal and
"Within a few
months, we had a lab that could satisfy quality specifications," related Van
den Beld. Provimi is the world-wide operating Animal Nutrition and Health
products division of Eridania Béghin-Say,
based in the Netherlands. Provimi operates.
73 plants in 24 countries,
At the time Van
den Beld started supervising the laboratory, it had been without a manager
for several years, and investments had been postponed. "In addition to the
reorganization," he said, "What we needed was a LIMS. It didn't' take me
long to convince management that the old administration system based on an
AS-400 computer was unsuitable for the administration and organization of a
lab that performs about 15,000 analyses a year."
to be installed would have to satisfy three important requirements. The
primary goal was to improve the quality of the laboratory's output as well
as its efficiency.
Secondly, the system would have to serve not only the lab, but also all of
Provimi's departments. "If you're going to invest time and money in LIMS,
"said Van den Beld, "it should pay off." Just as important, was that
management wanted to see no dips in the lab's output during the
a committee. The requirements were converted into functional specifications
suppliers needed to meet. Eventually Provimi selected StarLIMS from Lab Data
Management Systems. "StarLIMS scored highest when it came to functional
specifications," continued Van den Beld. "Also important, though, was the
professional yet friendly approach of the company."
summarized the main technical differences between StarLIMS and the other
evaluated LIMS packages as follows: First was StarLIMS' data-driven
application approach. The software can be configured to the end user's needs
by entering all the "business rules" of the lab.
This saves time
and money during the implementation period and the long-term maintenance of
the system. Second was StarLIMS' cost saving instrument interfacing, which
includes the StarLIMS Data Capture Utility (DCU). This enables users to
create their own instrument interface methods for automatic on-line result
entry, quickly, interactively, and without programming.
important, StarLIMS produced the highest hit rate on listed specifications;
that hundreds of laboratories worldwide use StarLIMS core software -
suggesting continuity for the longer term; that the vendor was considered
competent; and that the
was considered competitive.
The success of
an automation project depends entirely on how well it is accepted by
employees. "Cultivating a basis for working with the LIMS within the lab is
essential, "stated Van den Beld.
developed our own way of processing samples for AAS. These methods were
developed based on years of experience - you don't change this just because
an information system is unable to handle them.”
The Provimi lab
deals with a broad range of samples; from water to piglet feed, and can
carry out 60 different analyses; from wet chemical, microbiological and
microscopic to purely instrumental, using AES, UV or HPLC.
Data from each
method must be entered into the software so that the lab can obtain its
desired output later.
spent most of his time finding the best way to present the data. "The system
has an extensive 'report generator'. In all, Van Waveren worked full time on
the project for nine months.
In early 1996,
the lab was ready for the first real test: logging samples, entering
results, and generating reports. Following the second test, the lab switched
over entirely to the new system.
were surprised by the information obtained," said Van den Beld. Our turnover
was much higher than they had thought and additional management information
was available. Further, capacity schedules can be determined or we can see
what the entire analysis time will be for a series of determinations or
everyone at Provimi is convinced that the LIMS offers added advantages. For
the lab, the LIMS has made the process itself easier to survey so that the
work is done more efficiently. Provimi is also benefiting commercially. Two
thirds of the lab's customers consist of internal departments such as
quality control, formulating, purchasing, and the fish food departments,
while the other third is made up of external customers in the Netherlands
When a sample
arrives, the customer is sent an order acknowledgement that includes an
order number and the analyses to be carried out.
Fewer complaints, and we come across as a much more customer friendly
company," says Van den Beld.
"We can print
out a copy of what we have already carried out for a customer in a certain
period, and how much this is going to cost. This information also
facilitates our sales department, as they can then correlate in with
In 1997, the
laboratory logged about 20,000 specimens, 16,000 of which were actually
analyzed. The difference between these two figures, explained Van den Beld,
is related to the software module's "test manager" which is linked to the
LIMS. "This is a quality control program geared to the monitoring of the raw
materials. If an analysis fails to measure up to specifications, an order to
repeat the analysis is made automatically.”
number of analyses amounts to 53,000 per year. These days, people at the
Provimi lab can no longer imagine doing this without a LIMS.”
"I foresee a
continued integration of LIMS with other systems in our company. For now,
our original goals and those of the management have been more than