Test tubes with a pipette
4 mins read

Digital Transformation and Lab 4.0

June 18, 2020

The future of laboratory software will evolve into more fully integrated solutions from concept to consumer where the systems, lab techs, and clients are more tightly integrated, with the end goal of entering data once and enabling it to flow through all the business processes, through to the end-user or client. A high degree of automation plays a decisive role here.

Starlims Solution is a fully integrated laboratory informatics platform that supports laboratory digitization, workflow and process automation and system interconnectivity. Offering mobile functionality and data visualization and analysis in real time, the Starlims suite can be configured for structured manufacturing and QC laboratory environments, as well as for less structured R&D environments, across multiple regulated industries.

Starlims provides standard workflows (e.g. for incoming, raw materials, in-process and production controls, stability testing and environmental monitoring), which reduces implementation efforts.

Starlims suite of modules and interfaces capture and integrate data from disparate laboratories and business systems, no matter the geographical location. By supporting automated laboratory processes and data management Starlims cuts the need for paper-based processes, manual tasks and data entry.

Starlims has designed its platform to help labs working towards the Laboratory of the Future (LoF) and the Digital Transformation (Lab 4.0) where full digitization and automation and a flexible, modular working environment is achieved aligned with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Digital Transformation Benefits Box

At the centre of the Starlims solution is the laboratory information management system (LIMS) that handles the complete lab workflow. The LIMS interfaces via web services, file transfer and direct database communication, with automated sample handling systems and analytical instruments and software, including Empower and Chromeleon, and with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, product information management systems (PIMS) and manufacturing execution systems (MES).

With the right interfaces, e.g. to other company systems such as Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) or Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (ERP), in-process controls and batch releases can be simplified. For, example information about the raw material and incoming materials received and batches manufactured can be sent automatically to Starlims giving the laboratory visibility of the product testing demands.

The use of QR codes or RFID chips enables automated tracking of samples and laboratory materials such as reagents, chemicals or equipment. For example, reagents used during sample preparation can be simply scanned and automatically stored in the system with a time stamp. If the quantity used is then entered on a mobile device, the consumption can be tracked, and materials can be reordered in good time and automatically.

Laboratory and documentation processes are assigned only to those personnel who have appropriate training and authorization, and all data captured are traceable. Electronic signatures and chain of custody functionality support data integrity and regulatory compliance. The LIMS also schedules instrument maintenance and calibration, manages inventory and reagents and consumables ordering.

Starlims Scientific Data Management System (SDMS) acts as a central repository for laboratory- and enterprise-wide documents, files and instrument data. Designed to be 21 CFR Part 11 compliant, the platform operates in the background to collect, route and store data for the LIMS, including raw instrument data, and transform unstructured data into accessible and searchable formats. SDMS automatically picks up and intelligently parses documents and instrument data, initiates required file approval workflows and maps data to the appropriate data fields in Starlims. SDMS also offers add-ins for Word and Outlook, so users can work with familiar programs. The Word add-in allows users to browse and select data stored within SDMS and add it to their Word document to create reports. The Outlook add-in allows document approval workflows to be completed from within Outlook.

Starlims Electronic Laboratory Notebook (ELN) replaces paper-based notebooks. Designed to promote compliance through consistency and adherence to procedure, the ELN make it easy for the lab supervisor and reviewers to locate the samples testing results and their associated process documentation. The Starlims ELN is configurable to match existing laboratory operating practice, the associated standard method procedures and formulas. ELN users are led through the methods, and workflow steps, ensuring that each is completed before the next can be carried out. The ELN eliminates the need for separate standalone point solutions, enabling access to data in one central repository.

Starlims Advanced Analytics solution lets users visualize and analyse laboratory and business data stored in the Starlims solution, both on site and remotely. Information can be viewed in context, to support planning, identify bottlenecks, and take preventive steps to tackle production, test or quality issues. Better understanding of day-to-day lab operations and trends allows companies to optimize how they use their key resources, and ensure stock, staffing and instrumentation levels match demand. Users can set up configurable dashboards to compare, contrast and overlay charts, graphs and scatter plots, and tailor searches to grab all the right data.

By integrating automated laboratory processes and reducing manual tasks, Starlims can improve productivity and turnaround times, and the delivery of valuable insights for critical decision making.

Starlims Solution supports the entire product lifecycle management process and remains flexible to support changing workflow and data management needs, as organizations work towards the optimization and digital transformation to become the Lab of the Future.