What is a LIMS System?
A Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) enables you to model procedures, and then to enable requests to be made for the modeled processes that include the samples to be processed, their associated metadata and what processes (i.e., pipelines) they are to be assigned to. This allows you to manage the processing flow of samples from request all the way through well-defined workflow steps to ensure you are getting high quality, repeatable results and proper traceability.
Analysis of captured process data can also enable potential improvements in lab efficiency as bottlenecks are readily identifiable. A LIMS System helps standardize workflow processes by providing controls of the processing steps the samples are proceeding through. Automation can ideally be incorporated into the process and integrated with the LIMS software to automate collection of instrument data, while ensuring instruments are properly maintained and utilized.
What are the Benefits and Advantages of LIMS?
A LIMS (or Laboratory Information Management System in its full form) helps in three main ways:
- Accuracy of Results — A LIMS system helps labs produce accurate, repeatable results via rigorously defined steps with enforced protocols
- Efficiency of Lab Operations — A LIMS system helps labs to automate and speed up laborious tasks via integration with automation robotics
- Lab Processing Data Access — A LIMS system helps labs store and retrieve results quickly versus spreadsheets which do not enable searching across many years of lab processing data
LIMS software helps labs meet regulatory requirements such as GCP, FDA 21CFR Part 11, GLP, CLIA, and CAP by encapsulating what they do and how they do it, enabling efficient management of the lab.
What does a LIMS do?
The main purpose of a LIMS is to improve lab efficiency and accuracy by reducing manual operations. A LIMS system will perform a range of core functions. These normally include:
- Tracking Bench Protocols work via Workflow Process Tracking
- Accountability of work done via process and data audit tracking
- Sample management
- Materials Management
- Data Access, Dashboards and Reporting
Naturally not all LIMS Software Systems perform all these functions and the ability of the systems to enable rapid implementation of protocols will vary greatly.
A Lab Management System is commonly used for Sample Management to keep an accurate inventory of each sample, its processing and other related data such as storage location, etc. Detailed sample and related metadata can be recorded when the sample is created or first arrives in the lab, which can also vary depending on the type of sample and its processing pipeline. This normally includes the related project(s), sample identifiers/barcodes, storage information, related assay results data and which workflows or experiments it has passed through. It also includes information such as how it should be stored and any expiration dates. A LIMS system should be able to record and retain all this information to ensure easy traceability of all things related to a sample in its life cycle.
Lab processing relies heavily on tracking materials being used, typically reagents. A Lab Management System can enable detailed tracking of inventoried reagents, how much is on hand, lots numbers, expiration dates and reorder levels. The LIMS system will also record everywhere a particular materials lot was used (e.g. what processing workflows) and what samples were combined with the reagents.
LIMS are an essential tool to not only storing sample, material and processing data, but also for enabling searching of that data and graphical presentations of that information in useful dashboards. Additionally, ad-hoc searches and charts should also be able to be quickly run, allowing lab management and lab scientists to make real-time decisions via real time insights into the lab operations.
A LIMS can be used to define step by step procedural laboratory workflows and can increase throughput of the lab by performing automation such as:
- Automatic plate setup of samples including any needed replicates and QC's and Standards
- Automatically passing instrument control instructions to robotics and automatically reading results from lab processing into structured records associated with the proper samples
- Automatically assessing lab results data and queueing samples for reprocessing if necessary
Who uses LIMS software?
LIMS are used by lab managers, lab technicians, bioinformaticians and lab support staff. Every lab can benefit from a LIMS system to ensure repeatable, high quality results and easy data searching and reporting.
Why Is LIMS Important For Modern Laboratories?
A modern lab needs to have proper tracking of processing details as well as materials, samples, instruments and more. Lab processing data, including assay data, are some of the most prized and valuable assets of a pharma, biotech, research or clinical laboratory. It is critical to ensure that these are not only collected properly and that the data is accurate but that the data is easily accessible, visualizable and analyzable — all these constitute a modern informatics platform to enable the digital transformation of your life sciences organization.
What Is The Best LIMS System?
LIMS software can be developed in-house or bought from the many commercial vendors that provide solutions. Due to the complexity and ever evolving nature of the lab environment, buying a pre-packaged LIMS solution enable labs to concentrate on their support of their scientific work instead of the expensive and time consuming task of developing one off solutions that are hard to develop and maintain.
While there are many LIMS systems on the market, it's important to find a LIMS that has the following characteristics:
- Able to model processes and process steps via low-code, no-code configurations for your specific labs needs and then to be rapidly adaptable to the evolving needs of the lab
- Provide detailed management of sample, materials, assay data and instruments
- Have prebuilt vertical applications for things like Bioanalytical LIMS, Stability LIMS, NGS LIMS, Histopathology LIMS and more
- Have easy to use and modern interfaces providing role-based access control to all data, product functions and processes
- Be built on a modern low-code, no-code platform
- Have an integrated best in class Electronic Lab Notebook (LIMS ELN) to enable a complete and comprehensive digital transformation of your R&D organizations
The best LIMS solutions adapt to the way you work, help you manage the lab to efficiently provide your customers with exactly what they want (high quality traceable results), and create an automated repeatable bulletproof process.
In regulated settings a clinical lims software solution will not only track process, but also be compliant with necessary regulations that control system access, log all changes to data, and more. A proper clinical LIMS solution will also:
- Be Web-Based LIMS software that runs within web browsers and offer both cloud-hosted and on-premises deployment options
- Enable quick modeling of complex lab processes so you can be up and running quickly to support your critical business operations
- Provide end to end workflow support from physician ordering through accessioning and order transcription to lab processing and patient report delivery
- Support very high data volumes including assay data
- Provide operational insights via meaningful dashboards
While it is critical for a modern R&D Labs to support its operations with a modern LIMS system, it is even more important for clinical labs to have a LIMS software solution to ensure proper delivery of patient results.
Find out more about Sapio's Informatics Platform Lab Management Software.