Life sciences companies must comprehensively document their daily work in almost all company processes. Although IT solutions such as laboratory information management systems and electronic laboratory journals have long been an integral part of everyday laboratory work, the modern working world is constantly changing and so constantly requires improvements. The Konstanz-based biotech company Trenzyme GmbH has recently implemented a new software platform which enables it to automatically generate project reports, have a better overview of substance management and even do away with handwritten laboratory journals. This novel software will be increasingly used in the life sciences industry.
The majority of IT tools available to life sciences companies, even though they are now indispensable, do not carry out all the tasks required by the life sciences industry. And this significantly slows down business processes. Dr. Christoph Glanemann from Trenzyme GmbH explains why: “We used to use Excel, Word, PowerPoint and image files to store our data, and the Windows file management system to organize our files and allocate them to projects.” Laboratory data could not be stored in a central repository, which made it difficult for multiple users to access and share files.
Trenzyme eventually felt it had to improve the effective management of documents and so the company implemented Limsophy RALIMS, a new technology that combines the advantages of electronic laboratory journals (ELN) and LIMS (laboratory information management system), thus supporting a modern laboratory’s operations in that it overcomes the pitfalls of dispersed data management. “Our version of RALIMS was specifically adapted to our requirements; for example the substance management module includes a flow chart for representation,” said Christoph Glanemann, going on to add “this helps us to effectively follow the history of substances such as plasmids, bacterial strains or cell lines more quickly and with no gaps.”
Greater transparency of processes
In addition to the aforementioned, the new system, which was developed by the Swiss company AAC Infotray AG, allows the generation of “semi-automatic” project reports. While it was previously necessary to manually compile data stored in different file folders and represent them in a Word document, Limsophy RALIMS generates a versatile report which automatically comprises all relevant data of a given project as well as some fixed text modules. If necessary, users can manually include additional comments.
”One of the system’s modules enables laboratory staff to collect experimental data from a specific project,” reported Oliver Gruber, Marketing & Sales Manager of AAC Infotray. This comes with a high degree of flexibility at the same time as having a defined vocabulary. “We are now able to store our data in a central repository and all users can decentrally access the data from anywhere in the company,” said Christoph Glanemann. This is hugely advantageous for project management activities, for example: a project manager now has central access to customer orders and can control the planning and execution of a project with a single software tool. “Individual project members not only have access to the experiments that need to be carried out and documented, but can also record the time it takes to do this,” said Christoph Glanemann. Any authorized user, not only the project manager, can, if required, obtain information about the state of a project and the costs accrued up to a certain date.
Will handwritten laboratory journals soon be a thing of the past?
Another important advantage of Limsophy RALIMS is the huge amount of time that can be saved in the preparation of laboratory reports. The software automatically lists all substances and methods used, thus freeing up lab personnel to gather together the required information from individual lab journals. “We were looking for a system that enabled us to replace the classical handwritten laboratory journals with a computer-assisted solution. Although handwritten lab journals have the advantage that changes can easily be added to existing notes, they also tempt people to avoid defined procedures,” explained Oliver Gruber from AAC Infotray AG. “In addition, not everybody’s handwriting is equally easy to decipher and the way things are documented also depends very much on the investigator. Furthermore, information about the experiments in a single project is usually dispersed in different laboratory journals in different departments. It goes without saying that it takes a long time to get all the information together,” said Glanemann. The implementation of Limsophy RALIMS now gives Trenzyme access to centrally stored laboratory, project management and administration data and a greater freedom of choice. Trenzyme staff can chose whether they want to have the documented results presented as texts, tables or diagrams.
The time taken to implement the software is worth the effort
The implementation of the new technology at Trenzyme GmbH required a lot of resources. “I spent the first three months after purchasing the software implementing it in our company. Now this system takes up considerably less of my time; around 10 to 20 per cent of my time as a whole I would say,” commented Dr. Christoph Glanemann who recommends other colleagues to proceed in small steps.“We divided the implementation process into many small steps in order to make the process easier. Over time, we have thus been able to include many different independent processes into the management system.
By starting off small, for example by integrating the substance management module first, our staff soon acquired initial practical experience in handling the new software,” said Glanemann explaining that this experience could then be built on when other modules were implemented. “We soon realized that the highly structured and gapless documentation was a tremendous help in our daily routines and enabled us to comply with the strictest quality standards like those required by our quality management system.”
Dr. Christoph Glanemann
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