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Digitalization: Tips to Streamline Lab Management

Discover how digitalization helps with monitoring lab equipment, samples, and stocks and helps improving documentation.

Digitalization - loosely defined as the process of making existing data digital - has improved many aspects of our lives, including our workplaces. And laboratories are no exception to this. Digitalization provides particular benefits for lab management, including help with the monitoring of lab equipment, equipment maintenance, sample and stock inventories, lab documentation and auditing.

But lab digitalization can be a dizzying prospect, requiring connectivity between people, devices, data and lab inventories. With many different digital systems commercially available for use in labs, it can be difficult knowing which to choose and how and when to implement digitalization.

This article provides tips on digitalization to streamline lab management, focusing on device monitoring, more consistent device maintenance and improved equipment booking systems.

Enhanced device monitoring

Device monitoring is a crucial aspect of lab management. However, without a digitalized device monitoring system, there is no way to detect equipment malfunctions during times when nobody is present in the lab. This can result in sample loss and can impede safety.

With digitalized device monitoring systems, you can:
  • Constantly monitor device parameters, such as temperature, humidity, pressure, light, O2 and CO2 to prevent sample loss
  • Notify users when devices have finished their runs
  • Set email or SMS notifications that alert you of even the smallest changes in device conditions
  • Create an alarm escalation process, specifying additional recipients to be notified if the first recipient cannot respond in a specified time frame
  • Receive an audit trail of device activity to provide assurance and quality control

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Ensuring regular device maintenance

Consistent maintenance of lab equipment reduces equipment downtime and repair costs, helping the lab to run more smoothly. However, with the many devices present in a lab, scheduling maintenance specific to each device can be challenging. Notifying members of the lab when each device is out of action can also be time consuming.

The digitalization of lab maintenance procedures can help you to:
  • Schedule maintenance activity for each device at specified time intervals
  • Set email or text reminders to the user responsible for maintenance
  • Have the device automatically listed as out of order on the system during maintenance
  • Store the operating manuals and Material Data Safety sheets in a single location to aid maintenance and correct equipment usage

Optimized lab booking systems

Paper lab booking systems can be time consuming and inefficient. Equipment managers are required to manually change bookings, notify users of equipment downtime due to maintenance or repairs, and to manually analyze equipment usage for billing and invoices.

Digitalized lab equipment booking systems can:
  • Provide shared, remote access to booking calendars
  • Disable calendar bookings during equipment downtime
  • Provide equipment usage data for accurate billing and invoicing

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A digital system for simplified device management

Evidently, there are several ways digitalization can improve device management in the lab. However, the choice of digital software is crucial to ensuring that digitalization results in these intended benefits. There are many factors to consider when choosing a lab device management software, including which types of devices can be connected, and the different types of device management services provided.

The Eppendorf VisioNize® Lab Suite (VNLS) is a cloud-based software to help with several aspects of device management, including monitoring, maintenance and booking - all within a single system. With the VNLS, any and every device in the lab can be connected, including refrigerators, freezers, pipettes, centrifuges and PCR machines. This software is also easy to set up in the lab. For instance, the VisioNize® Sense kits , provide an easy way to connect any device (including those from other manufacturers) to the VNLS, with the kits including sensors to monitor several environmental parameters.

Improved sample and data management

Keeping track of resources such as reagents, enzymes, kits, and chemical stocks, is an additional responsibility of a lab manager. Thankfully, digitalized lab inventories can improve the maintenance of lab resources. For instance, a digital map of the lab’s storage can be created, incorporating the layout of cabinets, shelves, freezers, and refrigerators to help locate valuable lab resources. Electronic lab inventories can also help with re-ordering. Any lab user can upload samples with information including its location, quantity, expiry date and barcode, for much more streamlined re-ordering.

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Auditing and archiving data can be another important role in lab management. Digital lab notebooks can be a much better alternative to paper when it comes to lab management, enabling shared, remote access to lab records. This allows for easier editing, more efficient collaboration, and less risk of the loss of invaluable information.

Electronic lab inventories go hand-in-hand with electronic lab notebooks. When both are combined into one platform, researchers can more effectively monitor resource use within their experiments and keep better data records, leaving less work for the lab manager when it comes to updating inventories and improving data management. An all-in-one lab information management system providing both electronic lab inventories and notebooks is provided by the Eppendorf partner eLabNext® , with the eLabInventory® and eLabJournal® software.

Could digitalization be the key to improving your lab management?

Digitalization is the future of laboratories, enabled by the development of digital lab solutions, such as those provided by Eppendorf. This blog has touched on the several benefits that digitalization can provide for lab management in particular. This includes cloud-based device management systems such as Eppendorf’s VNLS, in addition to lab information management systems such as eLabNext® .

Not only can these digital services benefit lab management, they improve lab workflows, sample management and lab efficiency.

Learn more about the benefits of lab digitalization for streamlined lab workflows, simple sample management and better efficiency

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