The Lab of the Future or a smart lab is becoming the norm. Those who are not adapting to this digital laboratory trend are likely to lose ground and struggle to keep up with competitors.
For example, it is estimated that scientists will spend at least 20% less time working in a lab during the next decade, providing them with more room for innovation. By 2025, the global IoT network is expected to reach 75 billion connected devices. With over 40% of those devices being deployed in the healthcare industry, the future of the IoT lab looks very bright.
However, there’s a slight caveat. Building a smart lab goes beyond mere physical migration to the latest technologies.
One must create a complex yet highly functional environment in which the devices, data, and lab scientists comprise an automated ecosystem that:
- allows seamless workflows
- enables actionable dataflow
- provides valuable insights on a more granular level
But before we delve into the best practices for developing the Lab of the Future, let’s quickly address why the legacy lab is ripe for an IoT-based paradigm shift.
Legacy Lab Systems as a Bottleneck
The progress of scientific research and development has been immense over the past decades. However, many obstacles are hindering the traditional lab workflow. These obstacles typically involve:
- lack of automation
- frequent human errors
- issues with compliance
- inefficient data analysis processes (due to manual tracking and recording of data)
- data loss or sample corruption
- overall lack of dynamic communication (between devices and researchers, as well as across devices themselves), etc.
The IoT lab solves all these bottlenecks.
Perhaps the largest leap is mirrored by the advanced data tracking and analysis enabled by the smart lab, resolving the problem with the manual recording of data — a method that is both extremely time-consuming and prone to human errors, which might lead to data loss.
After all, humans are indeed flawed beings, whether we want to admit it or not.
The lack of connectivity and automation often causes these issues. IoT-enabled digital systems based on sensors and automated devices, from pipettes to centrifuges, can solve that.
That said, here’s our take on best practices for building an IoT-based smart lab.
Understand Your Data
It is crucial that you get a clear picture of your laboratory processes. This will help you set clear goals before you decide to embark on your digitalization journey. Plus, this way you will have a more valuable insight into your data flows and workflows allowing you to optimize your processes.
Here are a few steps to take when analyzing your data:
- Make a laboratory processes map
- Decide which processes you want to map
- Consider the activities the processes consist of, what is their order and how they start and end
- Include your employees in this process to make it even more efficient (as end-users they will provide you with the most valuable insight into current workflows happening in their work routine)
Finally, once you have clearly outlined all of your bottlenecks, you can introduce either simple or more complex solutions that solve them.
There are bottlenecks and workflows you are not even aware of. And what if you were able to manage these pain-points much more easily?
The end-result — a more streamlined and efficient smart lab of the future.
Leverage Technologies Like IoT, AI, ML, & Robotics
Incorporating Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, the Internet of Things, App Interfaces, and Robotics into the lab environment allows for a smart lab that delivers desired outcomes with human interaction reduced to a minimum.
This can help you:
- Mitigate unplanned downtime — Smart analytics enables scientists and researchers to determine equipment failure trends and prevent downtime and optimize maintenance procedures (Predictive Maintenance), which minimizes costs and damages.
- Increase operational efficiency — AI technology can predict operating conditions, which helps you adjust parameters for desired outcomes in real time and boost operational efficiency.
- Improve research, projects, products, and services — Interconnectivity and highly coherent data analysis, along with the use of robotics and Natural Language Processing, can vastly improve lab-based projects and shorten their time frames.
Develop Innovation-Driven Digital Culture at Your Workplace
The implementation of AI and IoT tech is critical. But, this only makes sense in a well-developed digital culture with a digital-centric mindset to map across this innovative tech environment.
Only then will you be able to reach optimal levels of automation that can help you achieve your goals, both incrementally and in the long run.
When used in conjunction with IoT technology and implemented across your entire lab team, the digital mindset enables scientists to leverage automation solutions to their full extent.
Although composed of smart devices and software systems, smart laboratory infrastructure cannot analyze databases and coordinate workflows efficiently. As the ages-old mantra goes — a tool is only as good as its user. IoT labs require an avid approach to digitalization, with evolved digital culture as the fulcrum.
One cannot go without the other.
Choose the Right Digitalisation Partner
The right time for building “the lab of the future” is now.
This is not an easy task. But with an avid digitalization partner that will provide you guidance, the necessary infrastructure, and a custom-tailored innovative lab strategy for your unique needs – this project can be done quickly, cost-efficiently by the highest industry standards.
The right partner can help you build lab infrastructure that will enable you to:
- Monitor all aspects and stages of experiment and research, from start to finish, ensuring that team collaboration is streamlined via next-gen interdepartmental cooperation, with safe resource management.
- Achieve high flexibility, accuracy, and productivity in terms of processes, discovery, development, and research.
- Reach top-tier connectivity and accessibility through an IoT-enabled ecosystem with all your devices connected to the cloud or local server as a central system. This way, the researcher can control everything externally and access data from almost any location.
- Achieve all forms of lab automation – from laboratory equipment to material containers.
- Increase accuracy and efficiency of data collection and analysis through the ability to track and process data on a much more granular level.
- Transform your lab system by building upon existing features and environment creating custom, cost-effective, and reliable IoT solutions for an automated smart lab.
- Get extensive domain knowledge, from spectroscopy, spectrophotometry, and gas chromatography to physical and chemical parameters analysis. We provide expertise and domain knowledge that guarantees successful implementation and fast market launch.
Get Started With Your Lab of the Future
Powered by our experience and expertise, we provide advanced tech solutions that help businesses drive their digitalization journey.
Disruptive digital technologies are changing the LabTech landscape and enabling accelerated progress of science.
Ready to capture new value from digital?