November 7, 2018 - Highlights from the 2018 LabVantage Customer Training and Education Conference

Astrix Technology Group was pleased to be the Platinum sponsor for this year’s North American LabVantage Customer Training and Education Conference (CTEC) event on October 21st – 26th. This year’s conference was a great success, featuring a heavy concentration of customer presentations and customer-led panels, along with many different topics and hands-on training options. LabVantage is a leading LIMS solution and Astrix provides complete LabVantage consulting and training services.

We enjoyed meeting many of you over the course of the conference and appreciated the opportunity to share experiences and discuss strategies and challenges associated with optimizing the laboratory operating environment. Here are some of the highlights from this year’s conference.


October 31, 2018 - How Business Process Analysis Can Benefit Your Lab Informatics Project

In a recent survey, over 50% of IT professionals revealed they had a project fail over the last year. Laboratory informatics projects can be especially challenging, considering the many different aspects of the enterprise that laboratory operations touch. Given this high failure rate, it is imperative that organizations adopt a proven methodology that guarantees success for their lab informatics projects.

Strategic planning is critical for any organization, but even more so for businesses involved in science and technology, as the dynamic nature of these industries requires companies to implement flexible, integrated solutions that can help meet both present and future business goals while remaining competitive in the face of rapidly-advancing innovations.

One of the major reasons laboratory informatics projects fail can be attributed to functional and strategic business needs not in alignment. Many organizations attempt to select and implement a system without first performing the due diligence required to align laboratory functional needs with the strategic needs of the business—an error that is magnified if more than one site is involved. There is also the phenomenon of large scientific enterprises embarking on a possibly multimillion-dollar initiative without capturing a baseline of laboratory productivity and efficiency.

Consequently, the first step in any laboratory informatics project should always be a thorough workflow and business analysis. In this blog, we will explore some best practice recommendations for Business Process Analysis (BPA) in the laboratory environment, along with some of the ways in which BPA can benefit your informatics project.

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October 31, 2018 - A LIMS is an Investment, not a Financial Drain

The Life Science field has reached a new era in terms of data management and data storage. Slowly but surely, laboratories will replace their old paper and pencil methods with IT solutions. Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) and Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELN) will play a key role in the context of this technical evolution.

Despite the consensus that the transition from old traditional methods to computerized solutions is inevitable, a large proportion of lab people still see this transition as an expense rather than an investment. We will try to understand the origin of this perception in this short blog post and ascertain whether the fear is founded or not.

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October 31, 2018 - Saving Costs with LIMS

If you have ever contemplated installing and implementing a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) you will have realized that these solutions can be pricey, both from a capital and resources point of view.  It is also likely that you have been requested to justify the investment in the proposed LIMS by developing a Return on Investment (ROI) analysis.  In order to accomplish this task, it will be imperative that you understand the full cost of your LIMS solution and the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) over the return period.  Additionally, you will need to determine the cost savings to the lab and organization that the implementation of the LIMS will yield.  These quantitative measures are generally the most powerful sources of cost savings and will therefore represent the lionshare of your LIMS cost justification.

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October 24, 2018 - Integrating Instruments with Your STARLIMS System

Integrating laboratory instruments with a LIMS (laboratory information management system) such as STARLIMS is one of the best ways to improve data integrity and drive operational efficiency in the laboratory. Instrument integration helps to facilitate significantly increased sample throughput and a reduction of data transcription errors. Instrument integration also tends to increase scientist job satisfaction by reducing tedious tasks like writing down results and manual data entry. This allows scientists to spend more time doing the actual science that helps drive innovation for your organization.


October 24, 2018 - Using Electronic Batch Records (EBR) to Optimize Manufacturing Efficiency

In an effort to ensure product quality and patient safety, the pharmaceutical and biotech industries are governed by strict regulations. As part of these regulations, the FDA requires that detailed production records be kept for each batch of a product produced by a pharmaceutical company. These records need to be accessible to regulators and can be used to confirm that raw material inventory is properly controlled, relevant procedures have been followed, necessary quality checks have been performed, and employee identities and training levels are verified.


October 17, 2018 - STARLIMS™ Customizations – Am I Evil?

In the world of so many cool applications, features and functionalities, “Jailbreaking” has become a standard practice for opening up possibilities in our electronics. Popular techniques are available for adding apps to Apple IOS and Android devices as well as media through Kodi in our Amazon Fire devices. While this process can give us what we crave moment to moment, it can also have unintended, dare we say it, evil effects on our devices. We can lose functionality in other applications, limit upgrade options or disable certain apps permanently.

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October 10, 2018 - Tips for Extending the Functionality of Your STARLIMS System

STARLIMS is a leading laboratory information management system (LIMS) that supports laboratories across multiple industries and disciplines including clinical, pharmaceutical, forensic, food safety, manufacturing, petrochemical, public health, and life sciences. As fully web-based system, STARLIMS promotes collaboration, both within your own lab and between labs around the world. With more than 1000 implementations in over 40 countries, STARLIMS has a proven track record of providing industry-leading solutions to global enterprises.

With comprehensive reporting, monitoring, managing and analysis capabilities, STARLIMS has a wide range of configurable features that support laboratory operations. In order to maximize business value and drive innovation with your STARLIMS solution over its full lifecycle, developer capabilities must be in place to enable system reconfiguration and/or customization to adapt to changing business requirements. In this blog, we will provide tips that will help software designers extend the functionality of your STARLIMS system.

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October 3, 2018 - Home Improvements and LIMS Projects: Strange Parallels

Over the past several years there has been an insidious addiction that has taken root in America.  No, I’m not talking about opioids or fentanyl, which are both scourges on our society, I’m talking about all the Home Improvement (HI) shows that are on television!  It is just amazing, evidently, what can be done with […]

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September 26, 2018 - Keeping Track of Biosamples

Biorepositories are a key element in a growing number of organizations in biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical research. They are used to store different types of biospecimens which could be used in a number of applications from medical research to clinical trials. Given that essentially these samples are kept in freezers, or other storage locations, it would seem to be fairly straightforward to have a data management system that records where the samples are stored. However, things are significantly more complicated than that.

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September 26, 2018 - Preventing Food Poisoning at Source

Most people have been unfortunate enough to experience at least one bout of food poisoning at some time their lives. For most it is an unpleasant, but not life-threatening occurrence, but in some cases, it can be extremely serious. Children under five and older people are most at risk because they may have weaker immune systems. Food poisoning results from food products containing bacteria such as E.coli, salmonella and campylobacter, with campylobacter being the most common culprit in the UK. One particularly dangerous, although much rarer, form of food poisoning is listeriosis, which is caused by Listeria. Nearly everyone infected is hospitalized, with one in five people dying from the disease.

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September 19, 2018 - Warning Signs That You’re Headed for a Bad Audit by the FDA

“An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure” ~Benjamin Franklin

Although this quote is generally attributed to human health issues, it can also apply when one is considering the “health” of your laboratory computer systems and business processes.  Just as taking care of yourself (i.e. eating healthy, exercising, and getting sufficient sleep) can prevent poor health outcomes, so too will establishing and maintaining the proper systems, processes, and quality culture help prevent poor audit outcomes.

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September 6, 2018 - Utilizing Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) for Lab Automation

In many scientific laboratories, routine laboratory operations are still carried out using manual, paper-based systems. Paper-based systems can be everything from transcribing instrument test results to managing inventories and documenting and scheduling instrument calibrations on spreadsheets.  Lab automation is a critical business re-engineering that is enabled and optimized with the implementation of a good LIMS solution.  Without the core LIMS technology, true lab automation can not be achieved and reliance on paper will continue to hold back growth. This reliance on paper has many negative side effects:

  • decreases the efficiency of the laboratory workplace
  • stifles innovation by forcing scientists into manual activities when they could be doing actual science
  • leaves the laboratory vulnerable to having valuable data misplaced, lost or destroyed
  • creates data integrity issues due to manual data transcription
  • exposes the company to regulatory risk due to data integrity and audit trail challenges

Informatics solutions, such a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), have been widely adopted across industries in order to meet these challenges. While LIMS provide a diverse array of functionality that serves to improve laboratory operations, the most important feature of a LIMS may be the ability to automate manual processes. In this blog, we will discuss some of the most important ways that LIMS can help automate your laboratory.


September 6, 2018 - Ask the Consultants: Instrument Integration Advice

It is well established within the laboratory informatics community that integrating your lab instruments to your LIMS is an industry best practice.  The benefits one can realize through instrument integration include:

  • Improving lab and technician efficiency
  • Reducing sample turnaround time, increasing sample throughput
  • Increasing researcher effectiveness (do more science)
  • Increasing data quality through the elimination of transcription errors
  • Increasing regulatory compliance and data integrity
  • Improving user and stakeholder satisfaction

Many laboratory organizations, although cognizant of the benefits, end up putting off integrating their lab instruments to their LIMS.  This is often relegated to Phase 2 of the LIMS project which often never gets kicked off, which is bad news.  If you are one of those labs that have not integrated your instruments to your LIMS, and realize those benefits.

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August 29, 2018 - Make Your Laboratory Results Report Unique

Our last blog talked about making your laboratory results report readable and informative, but how do you make sure it is still unique to your laboratory?

August 29, 2018 - Using Third Party Applications to Enhance Your LIMS Data Visualization and Analytics Capabilities

The digital revolution is rapidly changing the landscape for scientific laboratories. Digital technologies like the internet of things (IoT) and cloud storage are allowing companies to generate and store more data than ever before. Yet, with the arrival of big data, the volume and complexity of data in modern laboratories can make managing this critical asset extremely challenging. Towards this end, Laboratory information management systems (LIMS) have become an invaluable tool in modern scientific laboratories for effective data management.

August 29, 2018 - The Best Reasons to Use SLIMS for NGS

In the last few years, Next Generation Sequencing instruments and bioinformatics software have undergone tremendous progress. However, to get the most out of those revolutionary advances, NGS labs need one more tool. A LIMS automates lab work to maximize efficiency and minimize errors, ensures the quality of each sample’s metadata for secondary and tertiary analysis, is flexible enough to cope with the constant evolutions of lab workflows, and finally, allows the user to monitor and improve the quality and efficiency of the lab process.

August 22, 2018 - 5 More LIMS Myths – Busted!

Our previous blog on debunking LIMS and LIMS consulting myths proved to be a very popular blog.  With that in mind, we have gathered here five more prevalent LIMS myths to be discussed.  As before, while there may be a small kernel of truth to some of these, for the most part these statements do not hold water.  So, without further ado, let’s take a look at these LIMS myths and get to the busting!

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August 15, 2018 - Utilizing Vendor Scripts for Successful User Acceptance Testing

Computer system validation (CSV) is a documented process which helps to ensure that both new and existing computer systems consistently fulfill their intended purpose and produce accurate and reliable data. Most regulatory agencies around the world require validation of computer systems to ensure product safety and effectiveness. The software implementation and development team typically conducts CSV processes on the system being installed/updated to eliminate any software bugs and make sure the system meets specifications.

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August 8, 2018 - Tips for working with Master Data in LabWare

LabWare’s Enterprise Laboratory Platform (ELP) provides a Laboratory Informatics Management System (LIMS) and an Electronic Laboratory Notebook (ELN) that function together as a single integrated solution with a common, shared database. The LabWare solution provides an extremely flexible platform based entirely on open standards that can be configured to meet nearly any business need.

As much of LabWare’s functionality is data and template driven, the design and configuration of the master data (static data objects that are agreed upon and shared across the enterprise) is the most important aspect of any LabWare system. For both the initial implementation and ongoing activities, master data configuration has a dramatic impact on scalability and system maintenance activities. In this blog, we present a number of tips for master data configuration that will help to keep the core of your implementation solid and help to ensure that the system delivers a superior return on investment (ROI) over its lifetime for your organization.

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