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What Is a LIMS and What Is It Used For?

A Laboratory Information Management System, or LIMS, is an important tool used by laboratories to improve workflow and organization. Providing a central interface for the organization and tracking of samples and testing, a LIMS software system assists lab managers with the difficult task of collecting and maintaining enormous amounts of data. 

Traditional methods of recording information like notebooks and spreadsheets are no longer a viable option for most laboratories since the speed and efficiency of their research outpaces the capabilities of manual data collection. 

The most basic function of a LIMS is to track the progress of a sample from the moment it enters the laboratory to the moment it leaves. Upon arrival, each sample is assigned an identification number by the LIMS, which then tracks their progress and updates their information accordingly throughout every phase of testing, storage, and so on.

 In essence, a LIMS acts as an extra member of the team and can do everything automating workflows and integrating laboratory systems to performing instrument run monitoring and so much more.

Key Benefits of Using a LIMS

LIMS software is constantly changing and growing to suit the needs of the fast-paced world of scientific research and discovery. A relatively flexible data storage and management system, selecting a LIMS for your laboratory management needs can help you adapt more quickly to changes than other, traditional forms of information management systems. 

Some of the many benefits of using a LIMS to handle your facility’s data and workflow include: 

  • Sample tracking throughout the facility with real-time status updates
  • Workflow automation helps to reduce human error
  • Easily customizable interfaces can be tailored to meet the needs of any lab
  • Data backup and high-powered storage options help to preserve data longterm even when your systems fail
  • Fast reporting to help speed up quick analysis and auditing
  • Integrated billing to streamline payment processing

What Types of Labs Can Benefit from LIMS

There is virtually no limit to the potential applications of LIMS, which now have been integrated into the daily workflows of laboratories around the world. Some general types of laboratory facilities that can benefit from utilizing a LIMS include: 

How LIMS Are Used In The Lab

As mentioned, the ever-evolving LIMS technology is opening new doors and providing new opportunities for laboratory staff to improve how their facilities function. LIMS can be used in a ton of ways, and can even be customized to do specific functions to help with your facility’s particular needs. 

Here are some of the general capabilities of all basic LIMS: 

Sample Management

The most basic function of most LIMS is to handle sample management. A LIMS creates detailed records of each sample as it enters the laboratory, then updates its records throughout the course of research and testing. 

Beyond storing and organizing data, the LIMS also tracks the physical location of the sample, ensuring none go missing during transit or are handed off to wrongful parties. 

Inventory Management

Labs in every industry use a variety of supplies in order to carry out their work, utilizing everything from single-use plastic pipettes to chemical reagents in order to perform vital research and testing. Many of these supplies must be regularly reordered and re-stocked, and with the hectic job of running a laboratory, remembering to order supplies before they run out can be difficult, and stressful. 

LIMS can be programmed to track inventory status, trigger re-orders of specific items, or to notify personnel when machinery or equipment requires maintenance.

Reporting

Reporting is a vital feature of all LIMS software and enables laboratories to take a closer look at any sample set of data. LIMS reporting capabilities can provide important information like data concerning which pieces of equipment are most utilized, assessing how long sampling typically takes and assessing trends in sample data. 

LIMS can also be used to generate reports concerning sample tracking, inventory management and ordering, test results and patient records, quality control data, invoicing, storage and freezer space, and much more. 

Features of a Good Quality LIMS

When selecting a LIMS for your facility, it is important to choose one that has the features and capabilities you require. Not all systems are created equal, so knowing what to look for before you invest is important to ensure you will be happy with the final results. 

Some features to look for when selecting a LIMS for your facility include: 

  • Flexibility: laboratory needs are constantly evolving, requiring equipment, lab furniture, and tools like LIMS to be flexible and easy to reconfigure
  • Security: although LIMS should be configured to allow all lab personnel to access necessary information, a good quality LIMS should include features to ensure sensitive information is only disclosed to authorized personnel
  • Integration: a good quality LIMS should be able to seamlessly integrate with other laboratory equipment and systems in order to share and exchange data

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