LIMS: The Importance of Field and Lab Integration
Many multi-disciplinary consulting engineering firms that collect field data and send it to a lab for analysis are faced with increasing data volumes and sample throughput as well as frequent changes in technology. The challenges of getting accurate data from the field to the lab are driving the need to modernize their approach to managing, tracking, and centralizing data.
After sample data is collected, managing and tracking that data is important for accurate analysis and reporting. In addition, managing the chain of custody of samples from the field to the lab is paramount to maintain consistency and compliance within the chain of custody. Below are some common areas of failure:
- Lost, misplaced, or mislabeled samples
- Lab check in processes are arbitrary
- Users don’t have visibility to current and future lab backlog
- Redundant data entry because lab tech may not know what tests already have been performed
- Lack of flexibility in process workflows that don’t support unique lab operations requirements
A laboratory information management system (LIMS) is a software system developed to support laboratory operations. This software system can track specimens and workflows, aggregate data, and ensure laboratory operations are compliant with various standards and regulations. The primary purpose of a LIMS is to track and manage samples. It also can:
- Enable workflow automation which can in turn reduce human error
- Centralize access and storage of data
- Support compliance efforts
End Field & Lab Miscommunication with Integrated LIMS
Integrating field data collection and lab capabilities with a seamless workflow is key to realizing the full benefits of LIMS. Integrated LIMS capabilities provide your team with full chain-of-custody transparency that starts as soon as samples are collected in the field. Samples are accounted for every step of the way to enable easier collaboration between field and lab technicians, and to ensure accurate analysis and reporting.
Your project team can instantly see exactly where samples are and can account for each critical piece of information every step of the way. Data needs to be entered only once, and can be accessed and updated as needed.
No more missing samples or miscommunication between field and lab teams. You can assign physical samples unique identifiers and verify them as they come into the lab, which enables project teams to immediately discover any potential discrepancies.With an integrated LIMS you can track the chain-of-custody for all samples and ensure the proper tests are performed and validated against what was requested. You also can define and maintain material specification parameters for different material types.
Track and Manage Samples from Beginning to End
An integrated LIMS provides lab technicians, managers, and project engineers with an overview of the entire project scope so that they can easily track and monitor all samples in real time. The project oversight goes from scheduling lab tests and assigning tasks, to conducting field tests and reviewing status of lab samples, to facilitating test analysis and reporting for construction materials testing. This ensures samples are accounted for and that key information is accessible to project stakeholders.