Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS)
Gecan is an Alberta-based asphalt design and testing facility. The company has undergone significant growth and change over the past few years, including a move from Calgary to Edmonton and the addition of an asphalt mix laboratory (they previously operated as just an asphalt binder laboratory). All of this rapid growth meant that existing laboratory administrative practices were no longer efficient. All lab entries had previously been stored in spreadsheets. This was a practical and simple way to keep records when the company was smaller, but had now become insufficient for the amount of information the staff were dealing with. On top of that, because the two labs are kept separate but sometimes perform corresponding work, there needed to be an easy way to communicate and store information between the two sides.
We created a custom laboratory management system for Gecan to store information. The testing system allows staff to log each lab entry online and add information at various stages as needed. This streamlines the collaborative process between the two labs – if the mix lab needs to send an asphalt sample to the binder lab for tests, they are not logging sample information and test results in two different areas. Instead, the sample will be assigned a number in the lab management system, and both sides will have access to it and will be able to update it. Entries can be tracked and related, making collaboration easy.
One of the biggest advantages to Gecan’s new laboratory management system is its capacity for reporting. Previously, all sample information was kept in separate spreadsheets, so there was no way for pieces of information to interact with each other. This made it impossible to provide analytics or provide activity and trend reports. Because information – including sample components, sample number, equipment used, tests administered, and test results – is now stored at every stage of the process, the system can provide a start-to-finish snapshot of the entire process and make comparisons. For example, the staff at Gecan can now pull detailed analytics on trends such as the types of test that are being performed, what the average turnaround time is for specific procedures, and who their most frequent customers are. This, along with their ability to now track their hours for each job, can help with the company’s research and development.
The final piece of the Gecan laboratory management system is a label printer used to print labels for lab samples. Previously, labels were written out by hand, opening up the possibility of error. The information for the labels is automatically pulled from the entry on the lab management system, so there is no risk for error.
The lab management system also has compatibility with the company’s accounting system. Previously, the accounting department would receive spreadsheets of all of the work that had been completed, and would have to transfer all of the information to their records. The lab management system is now linked to the accounting department, so all necessary information is automatically sent to account without having to transfer any of the information from one document to another. This not only streamlines the process and makes it faster and more efficient, but also greatly reduces the risk of error, which is especially important since the company has undergone so much growth in the past few years.
Gecan’s lab management system assists them in managing information now and will continue to do so as the company grows. Having a system custom designed to the way they work means that future growth will not cause administrative issues or jam workflow.