Scimcon continues to meet the criteria for Carbon Neutral Britain for a second time in 2022. This has been attained through conducting the required measuring, calculating, and offsetting carbon emissions between the period of June 2021 and May 2022.
After first receiving the initial award in 2021, we are proud to have maintained this title throughout the following year, underpinning Scimcon’s global commitment to a sustainable future.
Co-founder of Scimcon Geoff Parker recognises the global nature of the company after first obtaining the award in 2021; “Our customer base consists of a diverse range of lab-centric organisations including large pharma and biopharma companies internationally. As Scimcon sees further expansion and more on-site projects in 2022, we are keen to drive our sustainability initiative through the global projects taking place all over the world. Carbon Neutral Britain pledged to offset our remaining carbon usage with accredited global projects that reduce the amount of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere. After gauging the environmental impact of our operations, we knew this would be a priority of ours moving forward.”
We renewed our Carbon Neutral Britain certification by offsetting against four international projects set up by our awarding sponsor. The Burgos Wind Project is the largest wind farm in the Philippines. This project produces clean energy, omitting sources that contribute pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions to the environment. Also, the Rice Husk Power Project, the first renewable energy scheme to utilize rice husk as biomass fuel for electricity generation in Cambodia. Not forgetting the remaining two projects, the Andes Mountains Hydro Power in Chile, and the Huaneng Changyi Wind Farm Project. All equally as impactful, we recognise that offsetting our carbon usage against projects like these is vital for our own global strategy here at Scimcon.
As we continue to operate in the complex lab informatics field, Scimcon’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions must continue to benefit our customers. Scimcon will continue to responsibly balance the very real need for on-site client interaction with the use of innovative communications, thereby reducing the impact of unnecessary travel. If taking part in auditory assessments and remediations like this one offsets our necessary emissions and contributes to a more sustainable future, the Scimcon team is more than dedicated to its requirements.
For more information about how we originally achieved our certification, visit our blog. To learn how Scimcon can help support your business with its IS strategy, contact us.Scimcon Sponsors Oxford Global’s SmartLabs UK?
SmartLabs UK is just days away from taking place in the capital of the country, and we’re proud to be sponsoring the 4th Annual SmartLabs Congress 2022 in London this year. Here, we explore what the two-day event will entail.
On the 8th and 9th September 2022, the Novotel London West will open its doors in welcoming leading experts of the lab informatics field to educate, inform and excite. From technical presentations to think-tank roundtable discussions, we had to join in.
Within a post-pandemic society, our reliance upon digital technology is greater than ever. In the field of life sciences, lab scientists are seeking better ways of consolidating and storing data. While paper-based labs are largely a thing of the past, many are filled with isolated information systems and nonstructured approaches, such as experimental workflows based at least partly in Excel.
Not only do such environments risk human error in transcription and duplication they restrict the organisations’ ability to search and mine data for critical insights.
Removing these disjointed workflows and dataflows are a key part of the wider digitalisation processes which are taking place throughout the lab space. It is no longer enough for laboratories to solely rely on LIMS, ELN, SDMS and instrument data systems.
It is important for the Scimcon team to stay ahead of the zeitgeist from customer-to-customer. Keeping up to date with current trends in lab informatics is at the heart of what we do.
What has this got to do with Oxford Global’s SmartLabs UK? The event will be split into two easy-to-follow streams, featuring all things lab informatics. If you’re unsure of what the latest innovations are, SmartLabs UK will provide the latest updates via over 50 cutting-edge presentations and a series of interactive discussions.
With virtual events becoming the norm in recent years, it is exciting for attendees to be given the opportunity of an in-person, collaborative experience. Day one of Oxford Global’s SmartLabs UK involves the exploration of monitoring and operational tools, and virtual reality tech demonstrations. Day two will delve into data standardisation and governance in lab informatics, and this is just the beginning. Some of the confirmed leading experts attending the event include the Genentech Director, Erik Bierwagen and Goldsmiths University professor, Larisa Soldatova.
If you think you’ve heard all of the latest informatics tools and technologies that are available, one of the benefits of attending SmartLabs UK will be the advice given on how to use these systems to leverage your data. After all, it is vital to understand how to put theory into practice. Taking advantage of the event’s opportunity for interaction, the 4th annual congress will provide an Event App. This will allow attendees to watch selected presentations on-demand, and contains extensive networking features. The benefits of using the app include; a dynamic agenda in which you will receive notifications of any changes to the day, a chance to the view the profiles of all speakers and organisations and a personalisation tool that allows you to organise and plan your schedule. There will also be an Event App prize draw for those participating in specified activities throughout the event.
As programme sponsor of Oxford Global’s SmartLabs UK, we are thrilled to assist in paving the way to laboratory digitalisation through automation, cutting-edge informatics tools and technologies. We believe that the digitisation of your laboratory projects should be done with the best advice and trusted expertise behind you. In turn, this is vital for the healthy reproduction of the life sciences industry.
Throughout the event, you can expect to receive this information in an engaging, illuminating way and through a variety of mediums. We will help to deliver think-tank discussions as well as trusted, face-to-face conversations with our team members who have direct lab experience. For those who prefer independent research and networking, we support the use of the Event App for all your lab informatics queries.
To organise a meeting with our team at the event, or to learn more about how Scimcon can support your digital lab transformation, contact us today. To learn more about lab informatics read more on our blogs via our website.What can we expect from Lab of the Future??
With the March congress on the horizon, we take a look at some of the trends within the industry over the last year, and what to expect from the March event.
It’s not a surprise that, with the impact of the pandemic, the importance of digitisation has been heavily reinforced. In early 2020, we reflected on Scimcon’s experience of providing remote support to clients and some of the changes we witnessed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now almost two years on, we’re seeing a new way of working across labs and organisations.
With digital transformation hot on the global agenda, what’s next for analytical and clinical laboratories? What will the lab of the future look like? Lab of the Future’s March congress aims to answer that question.
With a selection of activities scheduled across the 2-day event, there is no shortage of opportunity for attendees to get involved – whether that’s in-person in the Boston, MA event, or from the comfort of their own workspace via virtual attendance.
The agenda features a range of roundtables and presentations, including plenary sessions, as well as more focussed discussions on specific topics, from the digital lab to the connected innovation lab. The tradeshow will also feature plenty of networking session throughout, allowing individuals to form valuable new connections and learn more about some of the key players and innovation across the industry.
The event also welcomes a wide of speakers presenting and hosting discussions during the 2-day period. With confirmed speakers from GSK, Merck, Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Astrazeneca, amongst many others, it’s guaranteed to be an event filled with interesting discussions from some of the organisations that have become household names over the last 24 months.
In addition to discussions, the event is also hosting technology showcases, for leading solution providers to demonstrate some of the latest and most disruptive innovation that they’ve been perfecting behind the scenes. Focussed work tracks also allow attendees to take a more in-depth look at some of the latest technologies and trends in 4 key areas – lab automation, digitalisation, connectivity, and innovation.
Lab of the Future is an insightful event, and one that we look forward to as well as sponsor each year. The in-person aspect of the event will make for a refreshing change following the pandemic restrictions experienced worldwide, but the additional virtual element of the tradeshow means that users around the globe can participate and get involved, regardless of restrictions and concerns surrounding COVID-19 and travel.
However, in addition to the event, the lab of the future is a concept. Our team at Scimcon has over 20 years of experience in laboratory informatics, and with many of our team members having direct lab experience, we can help you get your digitisation and laboratory informatics project off the ground, whilst understanding the questions and concerns faced by scientists every day.
Scimcon is proud to be sponsoring the Lab of the Future March congress, taking place both virtually and in-person at Hilton Back Bay, Boston, MA on 22nd-23rd March 2022. To organise a meeting and to learn more about how Scimcon can take your lab to the future, contact us today.
Scimcon has been on quite a journey since its founding in 2000. Our co-founder Geoff Parker recently spoke with John Storton at Yellow Spider Media for its Business Spotlight podcast, where he discussed Scimcon’s experience in informatics projects over the last 21 years, how implementation projects have changed, and trends in digital lab transformation.
You can listen to the discussion below.
2020 saw the migration of in-person events to virtual. Although this was a difficult decision for many organisers, online events do present organisers with the opportunity to reach their audience in new and innovative ways.
As a follow up to his first blog, we caught up with Luke Gibson, Founding Director of Open Pharma Research, about his experience moving Lab of the Future online in April 2021.
We debated going virtual for quite a long time, whilst many events organisers around us made the jump quite quickly. We looked at a lot of different platforms but had some doubts, as we are very sensitive about putting out a poor quality product and we know that you can’t just mimic online what you offer in person.
So, we decided to dip our toe in the water with our range of Digital Dialogues, which are essentially a variety of debates and discussions which keep us talking with our community. Following the success of these, we took the plunge and went ahead with our virtual conference in April 2021. It went really well, and not only did we learn a lot from the event, but we managed to reach a lot of people as well – we had 1,500 registrants, and at any one time we had over 550 people online in at the same time.
It definitely appeals to us to explore this approach further. We were growing anyway, and every time we hosted a new Digital Dialogue we were reaching new people, so there are definitely positives to moving online – you get a wider audience, it’s more accessible for a lot of people, and it does really allow you to go global.
On the flip side, the interactivity isn’t the same as with an in-person event. Physical events gather a lot of momentum each year they take place, and we had exciting growth expectations, which do tend to flatline when you pause physical activity. Stimulating the activity of people online takes a lot more management as well, but there are definitely elements we can take forward. On the whole though, I think people are looking forward to a return to physical events.
In terms of technology, the conference industry has actually had the opportunity to go virtual for around 20 years now. Although we’ve known that everything can be delivered online, we’ve continued with physical events, and it’s because they give you that human interactivity which can’t be mirrored online. The same sentiment can be applied to concerts – it’s just not the same streaming a live show as it is being in the crowd, and there is also a higher level of technology risk, such as those experienced in the recent Glastonbury event where users weren’t able to log in.
Virtual events don’t allow you to break down barriers the way that comes naturally in a physical environment, such as just chatting with someone in the coffee queue. Because you have that shared experience of being at the same event, you already have that common ground that opens up communication. A lot of people attend conferences due to the networking aspect, which can only occur when you’re surrounded by like-minded people.
So I think the value of physical conferences has been reinforced by their absence. However, our Digital Dialogues have been wonderful and relatively easy to do, so we’ve gained from this experience and will definitely look to continue those in the future. The debate we face now is what would hybrid events look like? There is a lot to consider; the main thing is that, rather than compromising and delivering an event that is part virtual and part physical, you need to offer a virtual component in addition to a full physical event. For example, you want to be able to host an event that is open to people who may not necessarily be able to travel or attend in person, so that would be an addition to the event. What you don’t want is people deciding to host talks and keynotes from the comfort of their own office because it is easier than making the trip, losing the network opportunity. Physical events would be the goal, with virtual access as an added opportunity.
The speed at which vaccines were brought to market to target COVID-19 has been an incredible win over the last 12 months. It has allowed us to break down the assumption of “we have to do things this way because that’s how we’ve always done it.” If we use the COVID-19 vaccine development as a case study, we can apply this attitude to other areas within life science. What else can we do in half the time? How can we unlock innovation?
This goes further still in showing us that scientists are able to work in different environments too. I think a lot of scientists have been surprised by what they’ve managed to achieve even when they’ve not been able to go to the lab. When people have an appetite to see the job through, and are trusted to deliver on their objectives, its remarkable to see how they can adapt and push through. It creates a whole other mindset, which feeds into notions of what the Lab of the Future looks like.
Realistically, we’ve always been focused on the innovation and the people. We’ve looked at the data and the technology, but it’s the people that make everything happen. This whole experience of 2020 and 2021 so far has been a disruption, and any disruption that makes you stop and think differently about how people work is part of Lab of the Future.
Going forward, we would prefer to hold fire as opposed to putting something out that’s only halfway there. So, we’ve decided that we’ll be hosting virtual again in the Autumn, on 26th & 27th October 2021, and return to physical events in Boston, MA in Spring 2022 on 22nd & 23rd March, and Amsterdam, Europe on 3rd & 4th October 2022.
One thing we did note was that the energy of the keynote speakers was truly remarkable. We felt it was important to host our talks live, so our presenters were collaborating on developing their presentations, so they got a lot out of it, and that was really reflected in the enthusiasm of their messages. Working together provided energy, which really came across, and having these events live and interactive definitely added to the buzz of these talks.
Another key take-away was the role played by attendance analysis. Although it is useful being able to monitor activity through analytics, it has a potential flip side. We had to really blend our conversations with any product discussion to ensure that it wasn’t a case of people ‘skipping the ads’ in a sense and only tuning into case studies. We blended discussions on the variety of solutions with operational content from life science practitioners to make it one conversation, so this wasn’t an issue.
I think a lot of events organisers may have some trepidation around the use of data, as it can give you perhaps more information than you want to know. But a bonus on that point for us is that you gain a real insight into customer profiles, which in turn makes it easier to communicate and highlight relevant areas. We’ve definitely learnt from our experience of hosting the event virtually, and I think we’ve proven to ourselves that it is possible to deliver a great product, at times different to our expectation and our business plan! We’ve found a new way of working, and even with 30 years of experience each, we’ve challenged our past learnings and we’re now looking at how this could shape our future – which is exactly what Lab of the Future sets out to achieve.
Scimcon is proud to sponsor Lab of the Future, and we can’t wait to see you at the Autumn virtual congress on 26-27th October 2021. Contact us today to learn more about our participation in the event, and visit part 1 of our conversation with Luke to learn more about Lab of the Future.Industry leader interview: Luke Gibson?
2020 has been a difficult year for most industries, not least for event and tradeshow providers. Luke Gibson, Founding Director of Open Pharma Research and Lab of the Future, shares his experience of running events in the laboratory industry, and what makes Lab of the Future such a unique event.
My name is Luke Gibson, and I am one of the three founding directors of Open Pharma Research. I have 30 plus years of experience in developing and running events, primarily in the financial and trade and commodity sectors. My colleagues Kirianne Marshall and Zahid Tharia bring a similar level of experience to the company.
Kirianne has had many years of experience in managing the commercial side of large congresses, such as Partnering in Clinical Trials, and research and development congresses. Zahid has 30 years of events experience too, particularly in running life science portfolios, and launching congresses/events. Our paths have crossed many times throughout our years working in events, and we eventually hit a point where all 3 of us had the capacity to try something new – something that was worthwhile, fun, and different to the corporate worlds we had become accustomed to. So that was why we created Lab of the Future – with a view to running events in a different way.
I’m not sure if I would describe it as a gap in the market, more an ambition to do things differently. There was a desire from all of us to build an event with a different approach to the one we would take when working for large organisations, because when you’re working on a large portfolio of global events that cover a variety of topics, you and your team are always looking ahead to the next event, and the focus on the longevity of a single event isn’t always there.
We wanted something that we can nurture and grow, something that we can work on year-round without getting distracted by the next thing on our list. It also allows us to stay within this space and build our community, without having to face pressures such as a year-on-year development strategy or diverse P&L. Our desire was to avoid these constraints, and create an event that we can continue to work on for a long time.
We want to be able to live and breathe Lab of the Future, but one of the interesting things about it is that it’s such a broad concept. On the one hand we deal with informatics, but on the other hand, we deal with equipment, technology, and all the connectivity between them – but even that’s just one part of it. We are not an informatics conference; we are not strictly an instrumentation conference; we also look at the innovation side of things.
I think the best way to describe how we see Lab of the Future is as a proxy for how you do science in the future. Everything pertains to more efficient processes; better results; or ways of creating breakthrough innovation, and these are all part of the picture of science in the future. And that is the lab of the future – where the lab is the proxy for the environment where you do the science that matters.
When we started off, we found we received a lot of queries from industry contacts who wanted to get involved, but certain topics they wanted to discuss didn’t necessarily pertain to the physical laboratory itself. But if it was relevant to science, then it was relevant to us. Things like data clouds and outsourced services may not be directly linked to the lab, but they still relate to how you work. So, within that, the scope for the Lab of the Future gets wider still, looking at areas such as how we can create virtual clinical trials, or use real world-data to feed back into R&D.
People are also keen to learn more from their peers and from other areas of the industry. Lab of the Future allows us to host senior speakers and keynotes who can tell us where we’re heading, and show us how the efforts of one area within life science feed into other areas. It presents us with an almost ever-changing jigsaw image, and it’s this strategic element that I think sets us apart from other events.
We attract a real mix of attendees, and that’s what I love about it. You can run a conference for people in a specific job function, such as a data scientist or an R&D manager, but what people really want to know is what the people around them are doing, to almost give them context of the industry as a whole. So, our conference doesn’t just exist to help you do your own job better, but it helps you to develop a concept of where your department is heading in the future, and what you should think about longer term. We aren’t telling scientists how to do their job today; we’re helping them think about their responsibilities for delivery in the future. Lab of the Future is about the delivery of science of the future.
Our sponsors and solution providers that support the conference are also very much part of our community, as they’re all innovating and making waves in this space as well. They’re in a space that’s always evolving to build the Lab of the Future; and they are part of that solution. So, we don’t merely facilitate a conference of buying and selling between providers and services, we offer a space where everyone is evolving together. It’s a real melting pot, and that’s the fun bit really.
Zahid’s background in life sciences definitely gave us a starting point. Further to that, we’ve found that every time we put something out, that our community engages, and as a consequence we’re introduced to people we never expected to be introduced to. The fact we’re always talking to people enriches our content – the people we meet and conversations we have change our way of thinking, and shape what we’re doing.
Although I’m in charge of our marketing operations, I have to say I’m not always sure where some of our contacts come from! One thing I’ve found quite surprising is the lack of reliance on a database – there’s a lot of power in word-of-mouth, especially in this space where everyone is working on something – why not share that? As we’re seen as adding value to the conversation, it allows people to find us through their connections and our supporters.
Scimcon is proud to sponsor Lab of the Future, and we can’t wait to see you at the Autumn virtual congress on 26 – 27th October 2021. Contact us today to learn more about our participation in the event, and stay tuned on our Opinion page for part 2 of our conversation with Luke.The role of AI and ML in the future of lab informatics?
A few months ago I read an article on bioprocess 4.0, which discusses how combining AI and ML with extensive sensor data collected during biopharmaceutical manufacturing could deliver constant real-time adjustments, promising better process consistency, quality and safety.
This led to a discussion with some of my colleagues about what the future of Lab Informatics could look like when vendors start to integrate AI and ML into products such as lab information management systems (LIMS), electronic lab notebooks (ELN) and others.
AI: In simple terms, AI (artificial intelligence) makes decisions or suggestions based on datasets with the ultimate aim of creating truly instinctive system interfaces, that appear like you are interacting with a person.
ML: ML (machine learning) is one of the methods used to create and analyse the datasets used by AI and other system modules. Crucially machine learning does not rely on a programmer to specify the equations used to analyse data. ML looks for patterns and can ‘learn’ how to process data by examining data sets and expected outcomes.
The following example is extremely simple, but it helps to illustrate the basic principles of ML. The traditional approach to adding two values together is to include the exact way the data should be treated within the system’s configuration.
By using ML, the system is given examples, from which it learns how the data should be processed.
Once the system has seen enough datasets, the ML learning functions learn that A & B should be added together to give the result. The key advantage of ML is its powerful flexibility. If we feed our example system with new datasets, the same configuration could be used to subtract, multiply, divide or calculate sequences all without the need for specific equations.
Possibly without realising it, we already see ML in everyday life. When you open Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV+ the recommended selections you are presented with are derived using ML. The systems learn the types of content each of us enjoy by interpreting our previous behaviour.
Most of us also have experience of personal assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. These systems are excellent examples of AI using natural speech to both understand our instructions and then communicate answers, or results of actions. ML not only powers the understanding of language but also provides many of the answers to our questions.
The fact that we all can recognise such an effective and powerful everyday example shows just how far AI and ML have come since their inception in the 1950s.
Voice recognition software has been available for decades; however, it has not made large inroads into the lab. It has been used in areas where extensive notes are taken, areas such as pathology labs or for ELN experiment write ups. These are the obvious ‘big win’ areas because of the volume of text that is traditionally typed, the narrow scope of AI functionality needed, and the limited need to interface to other systems.
However, companies such as LabTwin and LabVoice are pushing us to consider the widespread use of not just voice recognition, but natural language voice commands across the lab. Logging samples into LIMS, for example, is generally a manual entry, with the exception of barcode scanners and pre-created sample templates, where possible. Commands such as “log sample type plasma, seals intact, volume sufficient, from clinic XYZ” is much simpler than typing and selecting from drop downs. Other functions such as “List CofAs due for approval”, “Show me this morning’s Mass Spec run” would streamline the process of finding the information you need.
Take stability studies where samples are stored in various conditions (such as temperature, humidity, and UV light) for several years and ‘pulled’ for analysis at various set points throughout the study.
The samples are analysed for decomposition across a matrix of conditions, time points and potentially product formulations or packaging types. Statistics are produced for each time point and used to predict shelf life using traditional statistics and graphs.
Stability studies are expensive to run and can take several years to reach final conclusions.
AI and ML could, with access to historical data, begin to be used to limit the size of studies so they can focus on a ‘sweet spot’ of critical study attributes. Ultimately, this could dramatically reduce study length by detecting issues earlier and predicting when failure will occur.
Instrument downtime, particularly unscheduled, is a significant cost to laboratories. Using ML to review each new run, comparing it with previous runs and correlating with system failures, could predict the need for preventative maintenance.
AI/ML interventions such as these could significantly reduce the cost of downtime. This type of functionality could be built into the instruments themselves, systems such as LIMS, ELN, Scientific Data Management Systems (SDMS) or instrument control software. If this was combined with instrument telemetry data such as oven temperature, pump pressure or detector sensitivity we have the potential to eliminate most unplanned maintenance.
Another major concern with instrumentation in labs today is scheduling and utilisation rates. It is not uncommon for instruments to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds/dollars/euros, and getting the highest utilisation rates without obstructing critical lab workflows is a key objective for labs. However, going beyond the use of instrument booking systems and rudimentary task planning is difficult. Although it is not hard to imagine AI and ML monitoring systems such as LIMS and ELN, there is far more that can be done to ensure this functionality can go even further. Tasks such as predicting workload; referring to previous instrument run times; calculating sample / test priority; and even checking for scientist’s free diary slots are all tasks that can be optimised to improve the scheduling of day-to-day laboratory work. The resulting optimisation would not only reduce costs and speed up workflows, but would dramatically reduce scientists’ frustration in finding available instruments.
Over the last few years, there has been a massive focus on data integrity within regulated labs. However, many of the control mechanisms that are put in place to improve integrity or mitigate issues are not real-time. For instance, audit trail review is often done monthly at best, and generally quarterly. Not only is it tedious, it is all too easy to miss discrepancies when reviewing line upon line of system changes.
ML could be used to monitor the audit trails of informatics systems and instrument systems in real-time and AI could report any out of the ordinary actions or result trends that do not ‘look’ normal to managers. Where appropriate, the system could interact with the corporate training platform and assign specific data integrity training to applicable teams. The potential increase in integrity of data while reducing the headcount needed to do so could be significant.
Lab directors, IT professional and the Lab Informatics industry are quite rightly focusing on the digital lab and digital lab transformations. Done right, this will form and excellent platform for the next level of informatics development using AI and ML to propel not just digital science forward, but to revolutionise the everyday life of scientists. Personally, I cannot wait!
To find out more about how Scimcon can support your informatics project, contact us today.
Scimcon has worked with many lab-based clients throughout our 20 years in the industry, across a vast range of projects. Here we discuss the current challenges that labs are facing in 2020, and the work that needs to be done through digital transformation to ensure that labs in the future can streamline and manage their data.
The limitations of the current laboratory information systems landscape
Today’s labs are facing similar challenges as camera companies. Camera manufacturers such as Nikon and Canon are now faced with the challenge of selling to a new generation of budding photographers, most of whom by now have grown up with increasingly higher-quality smartphone cameras. As a result of having access to technology that is designed for ease of use, this generation of users find themselves progressively more frustrated with traditional technology and methods required to operate today’s ‘real’ cameras. Where smartphones can offer instant uploads to online services; amazing results that leverage computational photography; and synchronicity between multiple devices, traditional cameras appear complicated, difficult to control and impractical. Camera companies therefore face the challenge of building usability, such as that found in smartphone cameras into their existing products, otherwise they risk losing a whole demographic of potential customers.
The analogy is that modern labs are facing a similar problem. As new generations of scientists join laboratory settings, many are finding the lack of synchronicity and usability of information management systems increasingly frustrating. Why can’t we check instruments remotely whenever we want? Why can’t data be easily transferred between devices or colleagues? Why isn’t all this information seamless? Limitations such as these can be hugely time-consuming, as well as resulting in reduced productivity and security risks for data with minimal protection. Similar to the camera makers, we are risking losing the best new talent to other areas of science. Digital transformation addresses these challenges head on, with the proficiency to make your lab more intuitive and efficient.
What is digital transformation and how can it enhance your current lab setup?
Digital transformation involves the integration of new technology and methods into existing lab technology. Although this advancement in technology is a relatively new development within the laboratory setting, lab managers are quick to realise that digital transformation is essential in optimising workflows and productivity. In 2018, 70% of labs were reported to have a digital lab strategy in place or were working towards one1– a number that we can only expect to have significantly increased since then.
Significant effort has taken place in laboratories over the past two decades or more, which has delivered substantial benefits. This effort has been focused on the key lab workflows and the matching informatics systems such as CDS, LIMS, ELN, LES and SDMS, to mention a few. The next decade needs to build on this success to create a true digital laboratory.
Digital labs of the future: what can we expect?
Digital lab transformation is more than just implementing informatics systems, it involves taking these systems and pushing them a step further. For example, a lab could connect instruments bi-directionally to LIMS or ELN, but digital lab transformation would also facilitate online monitoring of instrument status, automatic ordering of consumables, reserving instrument time, auto-tracking utilisation and the use of telemetry data to predict faults before they happen.
A digital lab may also utilise a feature rich LIMS, ELN or LES that enables collation and review of all results for an experiment, but a digitally transformed lab would also be able to collate results across potentially several LIMS and ELNs throughout an organisation. This would allow the promotion of internal and external collaborations, enabling the ‘science later’ paradigm of cross team, cross technique and cross experiment data mining. This, in turn, will progress artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Overall, a digital transformation is more than just providing scientists with the means to spend more time on actual science. It provides the complete toolset of a lab wherever a scientist may be, whether that is in the lab itself, in an off-site office, in a café or even at the kitchen table.
At present, even top laboratories face problems with a lack of modernisation, and this is a problem that is slowly trickling down to smaller labs that are starting to face similar challenges. If we continue to drive forward with the help of innovative technology, we could expect to see many labs becoming more efficient, more supportive of science and more reliable than ever before.
However, to do this, it is up to laboratory leaders to have a clear vision of where they see their lab going. It is hard to transform any business by only doing little bits, so it is up to the higher levels of lab personnel to decide what steps to take to ensure that their labs are working at optimal capacity and potential. This is where Scimcon can help.
How can Scimcon help to revolutionise your lab?
Scimcon is proud to offer a range of digital lab services to assist in digitising a lab, many of which are outlined in our introductory blog. We are also able to help labs go that step further, with our collective wealth of experience in the lab, both as scientists and project leaders. Whether it is the development of the strategy, the running of the programme, or providing resources and leadership for your projects, Scimcon can help you understand what you want to achieve, and how to reach it.
To find out more about types of projects we support, and how we can help you to transform your lab, get in touch.
1 ‘Despite steady growth in digital transformation initiatives, companies face budget and buy-in challenges’, https://www.zdnet.com/article/survey-despite-steady-growth-in-digital-transformation-initiatives-companies-face-budget-and-buy-in/