Without a digital LIMS solution in place for your CMT Lab, the process of documenting test results in a laboratory environment is burdensome, manual, and prone to human error. Equipment problems within the lab can cause delays that reduce productivity. As the market stands today, it’s difficult enough to find qualified technicians to perform the work in the first place. Furthermore, non-compliance reporting is a time intensive process requiring the involvement of multiple stakeholders.
Lab managers need the following:
- An organized lab with clean, calibrated, well-maintained equipment.
- A data management system to track sample chain of custody and equipment inventory.
- Skilled and capable technicians with the appropriate certifications, training, and experience.
- A channel to communicate testing schedules and pertinent project information to technicians.
To overcome these common challenges, more and more construction materials testing laboratories are relying on Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS).
So, what exactly is LIMS? LIMS is software designed to improve laboratory productivity and efficiency by automating critical workflows and managing vital data, especially when it comes to managing multiple projects simultaneously. It is a solution to help technicians better track, analyze, and share important sample information and test results with other laboratories, firms, and stakeholders. LIMS is also a critical tool to maintain compliance with regulatory standards, and to help attract talent by blending modern and mobile technology with lab processes.
We’ve studied how some of our exemplary customers are maximizing their lab operations using a LIMS solution, and we’ve come up with the following comprehensive list of 7 ways to boost CMT lab productivity using LIMS:
- Enforce standardization.
- Maintain control and organization of your lab operations by enforcing standardization using a LIMS solution. Create standards for how samples are checked-in, tagged, and stored when they arrive from the field (i.e. label all samples immediately as they’re brought into the lab so you know where they came from and where they belong), and equip your lab with the necessary safety infrastructure. Furthermore, a shift in focus on establishing partnerships with technology vendors can also help with standardization. For example, if ASTM makes a change, all laboratories are notified and updated at once through technology. Leveraging technology can address downtime on training while maintaining consistency across your organization.
- Ensure reliable testing.
- With LIMS, lab technicians know the tests they need to perform each day, along with relevant project information. LIMS ensures each sample is assigned to a technician with the right skills to perform each test, and all billable hours are maximized and recorded accurately and promptly. Sample data and test results will flow automatically into a LIMS, thus eliminating human error and redundancy from manual data entry.
- Create visibility.
- Without a digital system or project que in place, there is lack of visibility. LIMS software offers full chain of custody transparency to track the status of each step in a workflow and automatically generate notifications when an action is completed or when a problem arises. In testing scenarios, such as construction materials testing, the concept of chain of custody is important to record the traceability of report results and associate those results with the performed test. Each sample is uniquely identified, which allows it to be tracked throughout the entire course of prescribed testing procedures and ensures the validity of the sample and testing results.
- Maintain a central repository.
- Using LIMS, you can view results in a secure, centralized location to maintain a single source of truth for your CMT data. Digitally review, customize, and approve a report before exporting that data to project stakeholders. Especially for firms with more than one lab, adopting technology and leveraging a central repository of information provides intangible office to office support and communication as test volumes fluctuate throughout the year.
- Evaluate your resources.
- A benefit to using LIMS is to effectively manage laboratory resources and schedules. LIMS will help to track inventory, including lab equipment and supplies, which aid in scheduling the use of lab resources and ensuring they are used efficiently. LIMS will also track internal information such as equipment usage and performance metrics to help you and your team make more informed decisions.
- Promote quality.
- As the recipient of the field tests and samples, it is imperative lab managers uphold the highest standards for data quality and control. LIMS software will help track the results of materials tests, manage samples, and report data to ultimately support an accurate, reliable, and efficient workflow. Real-time information will help to ensure any non-compliance issues are brought to the attention of a project manager and customer immediately.
- Maintain compliance.
- LIMS will help your lab efficiently conduct operations, maintain compliance, and prepare for an audit. A LIMS solution allows you to have more confidence in your data knowing tests are performed according to the standards of accreditation bodies. With automated and actionable alerts, lab managers can efficiently keep projects on track and in compliance.
The status quo of not having a LIMS system in place is expensive. Using LIMS to boost CMT lab productivity in these 7 areas will ultimately create greater efficiencies within the lab, which leads to higher volumes, competitive pricing, and reduced turnaround times.
At Agile Frameworks, we see our customers not only increase productivity, but also create efficiencies across their business operations, which in turn helps drive overall profitability. Our integrated LIMS capability within MetaField provides full chain-of-custody transparency to maintain consistency and compliance with QMS. Samples are accounted for every step of the way to enable easy collaboration between field and lab technicians, and to ensure accurate analysis and reporting.
If you are interested in learning more about how a CMT LIMS solution can help your firm, please contact us today.