“I sometimes had to wade through 10 different Excel tabs to assemble the data required”, explains a laboratory team leader looking back at how she generated reports before using a LIMS. As painful as this may sound, there are still many manufacturers who rely on Excel to collect and extract data and perform their analyses. The more time spent on operational activities, the fewer opportunities to focus on improvement.
On the other hand, with laboratory quality control software, you have all data in a well-structured system with built-in reporting and analytics tools that will boost efficiency and free up to 20% of your time. And, if boosting efficiency is not a good enough reason to choose a LIMS for your manufacturing company, the seven advantages highlighted in this article will surely change your mind.
LIMS for manufacturing: a quick introduction
A Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) helps manufacturing companies by automating the entire process between sampling and reporting. This includes tracking samples, managing data, assigning tasks, non-conformity analysis, reporting, trend analysis, and passing test results to other systems, like for instance an ERP.
What does this mean for lab technicians? It means that they can forget about clicking through Excel tabs to dig up information while feeling time-starved performing their daily routine. A LIMS that’s optimized for manufacturing will pull up real-time data, give users full control, and make processes completely transparent. Connecting the laboratory to production will mean a lot in terms of efficiency.
LIMS advantages that you need to know about
Easy reporting is one of the most common reasons why manufacturers choose this clever alternative to Excel. But functionalities and advantages go far beyond reporting. Implementing a LIMS, manufacturing companies also enjoy these main benefits:
- Consistent quality, less waste – clear overviews, and automatic non-conformity notifications ensure excellence. Maintaining a high level of quality prevents waste. Fewer defective products, less time needed to perform operational activities, no more wasted materials, etc. …which brings us to the next advantage.
- A paperless laboratory – the ‘take the measurement, write it down’ procedure doesn’t make sense when dealing with hundreds of products and frequent quality checks. Neither does retrieving data from thick folders stored in alphabetized order. And, if you still think that scribbling on paper is much easier than going digital, you clearly need to experience just how user-friendly a LIMS can be.
- Diminished risk of human mistakes – ‘We are all human, and we all make mistakes’, very true. With automation, however, many of these (costly) mistakes can be prevented. Think about it, why compare measurements with specifications on separate sheets manually when you could use a system that’s fast and error-proof?
- Traceability and easy monitoring – whether you need to access historical data, track changes, or pinpoint deviations, you’ll have an audit trail for everything. While the ‘a’ word may cause stress for some organizations, this is simply not the case with a LIMS that enables you to have well-recorded data, up-to-date processes, and people working in synch.
- Streamlined communication and processes – a simple example of how you can do this is by setting up workflows that enable you to automatically inform your organization and trigger follow-up processes. From shop floor to boardroom, you can link data together and make it accessible at any time and on any device.
- Enhanced regulatory compliance – next to keeping you in the know, a smart platform can manage analyses results, as well as all process models, procedures, and forms that conform to regulatory standards such as ISO 9001.
- Allows focus on improvement – although all manufacturers seek improvement, being too busy with routine tasks doesn’t allow much time for this. By implementing a system that enables you to react fast and not overlook anything, you’ll stay informed and free up time to focus on improvement.
AlisQI LIMS or how to achieve the change for the better
Remember the laboratory team leader at the beginning of this article? She needed to wade through Excel tabs to perform all checks and analyses. That was before the team at Royal VIV Buisman, a leading manufacturer in the food sector stumbled upon the clever LIMS software from AlisQI.
Appreciating AlisQI’s focus on manufacturing as well as the fact that it was designed to fit companies of all sizes, the food manufacturer decided to implement the system and streamline their quality control. Marcel De Buijzer, Production Director at Royal VIV Buisman talks about some of the changes they’ve noticed since.
“The products have not improved through AlisQI”, says De Buijzer, “but the processes certainly have. If a raw material or end product falls outside the specifications, the system automatically gives you an alert. You react faster and sharper, and nothing can be overlooked”.
When looking for a LIMS to boost efficiency in their lab, De Buijzer explains that they wanted a system that safeguards quality and processes while keeping things manageable. In contrast to the times when they relied on Excel, “we have all the control charts, analyses results, or statistics at the press of a single button. And not just for ourselves, we can now also generate reports on the delivered quality for our clients and suppliers much faster. We have increasingly accurate information regarding the precise steering of the processes.”
Next to saving time and boosting overall quality, De Buijzer mentions some additional benefits. As a cloud-based quality management system, AlisQI can be used in multiple locations “The results of checks on the line are immediately visible and usable in the lab or in the sales office. All information is linked and is available to everyone”.
A pragmatic manufacturer, who decided against a traditional LIMS because it was too extensive, Royal VIV Buisman was also happy with the savings on costs “For roughly one-tenth of the price of a traditional LIMS, the entire implementation process was completed.”
As highlighted above, a Laboratory Information Management System can be beneficial for many reasons. The AlisQI LIMS for manufacturing can boost efficiency in your laboratory and saves you the burden of manual work. And, if you’re still worried about costs, implementing a LIMS is an investment. But isn’t investing in quality one of the best investments that you can make?
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