The acquisition and choice of a LIMS regularly haunts discussions and is periodically debated when one works in a laboratory, but does the question also arise when one must manage the quality control of products without an internal laboratory?
This paradox actually hides two issues:
- The operational management of quality control.
- Access to a digitalized laboratory to manage analytical subcontracting.
We were recently in contact with a company working in the field of health ingredients. This structure of about ten people, certified FSSC 22000, offers a hundred references, mainly in trade. It has a small internal manufacturing activity and entrusts some of its products to manufacturers under its own brand. In the absence of an in-house control laboratory, analyses are entrusted to subcontracted laboratories. The QHSE manager is responsible for quality control and relations with these service providers.
To date, the company does not wish to invest in an internal control laboratory:
- The wide range of very different and sometimes volatile products often blocks the rationalization of internal controls: indeed, the analysis of certain substances and contaminants are specific to each reference. It is difficult to invest in analytical equipment, methods, consumables and recruitment, especially if this expertise is available externally.
- Little or no analysis during the manufacturing process of the products because validation and qualification processes of the raw materials allow a control in fine.
The sufficiently long shelf life allows for a later release after controls than in the ultra-fresh sector, for example, which allows for longer analysis times.
Subcontracting the analyses allows an absorption of the loads as close as possible to the activity.
However, the structure wishes to solve several problems:
- The control activity is spread over different monitoring, consultation and storage media.
- The activity lacks automation for the tasks inherent to the control analyses.
- The follow-up of external analyses and deadlines is difficult.
The activity does not capitalize sufficiently on all the data it processes and generates.
Overall, this structure wishes to simplify its control process, increase its level of performance and demonstrate its ability to effectively control its products.
To date, the proposed solutions such as EDM (Electronic Document Management) are too much positioned on the document life cycle and quality management but not enough on the operational part of control. As for most LIMS, they are far too powerful and used for the analytical processing of a sample in a laboratory (multi-resource allocation and workflows).
How to easily manage the control cycle, the follow-up of analyses while increasing its expertise potential with many external laboratories?
Towards a “digital laboratory”?
No, for the moment it is not yet a laboratory run by artificial intelligence and robots (although it may not be so far off…)
The principle is to be able to manage your specifications, automate your controls, your periodic plans and benefit from the expertise of many subcontractors that you federate in an application in SaaS mode. It is the ultimate laboratory for your needs today and those to come. The volume of service providers to manage is no longer an obstacle, it’s a gas pedal!
- Identify and register future partners.
Allocate each analysis to a specialist.
- Combine multiple labs for the same analysis, choose the expert on your matrix, compare your providers and labs with each other.
- Easily track all your analyses and manage your batches.
Build and leverage your analytical capital.
By easily managing a large panel of subcontractors, you can anticipate future needs and, above all, demonstrate now that your analyses are reliable, robust and impartial. Make your analytical results the strength of your products, a true predictive tool and a lever for improvement.
Finally, to this initial question: Do I need a LIMS to manage the outsourcing of my analyses? The answer is resonably: no. You would only be using a tiny fraction of what the power of a LIMS can offer! LIMS are resolutely oriented towards the organization of an internal laboratory. CIKlab, whose operating principle is quite similar to that of a LIMS is clearly open to the outside world. It allows you to design YOUR digital laboratory… it is the one you will build with specialists and which will change the daily life of your organization today!