Smart Lab of the Future Powered by IoT
The adoption of IoT technology is making an impact across numerous industries, including ScienceTech and Labtech.
The IoT lab is currently making a major technological disruption within the lab environment as it will eventually fully replace current laboratory systems and workflows that are already outdated and inefficient. Essentially, a smart lab is a concept where IoT technology is leveraged to maximize instrument utilization and improve the efficiency of lab scientists, thus creating room for further innovation.
Although the IoT lab is yet to reach its full potential since certain security pitfalls require solutions, traditional labs simply can’t ignore this trend. The IoT lab is certainly both the present and the future of LabTech and with the increasing number of equipment manufacturers implementing the IoT into their instruments, pivoting toward the smart lab is already the norm.
The Application of IoT in Laboratories
The smart lab based on the IoT is all about interconnectivity, interoperability, improved data collection and faster analysis that drives actionable insights. IoT-based lab devices are capable of gleaning data and providing high connectivity that enables numerous applications within the smart lab environment, including:
- Continuous monitoring of controlled laboratory environment, instruments, server rooms, reagent areas
- Automated inventory management
- Automated data collection and recording
- Streamlined workflows induced by highly connected laboratory devices
- Improved and predictive equipment maintenance
- Compliance with operational and regulatory guidelines
- Maximized utilization of lab equipment
- Optimized lab processes and decreased potential for human error
- Active monitoring of chemical/reagent inventories and automated reordering
- Safety tracking and remote communication with employees
- Monitoring sample temperatures, etc.
Now that you have an overview of the most relevant applications of this technology within the IoT lab, let’s go over some of them in little more detail.
1. Automated Data Recording, Improved Analyses & Smart Insights
Traditional labs are quite prone to human error due to the manual recording of data and suboptimal workflows. Much of the valuable lab information and know-how dissipate or get lost in an analog environment due to insufficient automation levels, creating workflow bottlenecks and increasing the possibility for human errors that can potentially ruin the entire project.
Within the smart lab, however, automated data recording processes allow researchers to have a clear overview of both granular data and the progress of entire projects. Through data collection via centralized repositories, the utility and effectiveness of your IoT lab increase significantly enabling scientist to improve the process of data analysis and, in so doing, gain tangible and advanced insights on the following:
- which instruments are fetching which results
- potential workflow bottlenecks
- potential issues with results (smart laboratory environment allows you to detect flawed data more easily, and therefore resolve these issues in a timely manner and retest quickly)
- waste and unnecessary costs minimization through the help of applications that can predict results and/or issues
- produce desired outcomes with minimal human interaction with the help of AI, Machine learning and IoT principles and applications performing the analytics
2. Automated Inventory Tracking
The lab workflow is often hindered by inventory issues. Insufficient or flawed supplies can obstruct experiments and result in repeated efforts that are never cost-effective, which is a burden that almost always falls onto the shoulders of the lab staff involved. Not to mention that keeping track of the inventory manually is an inefficient, tiresome and often error-packed process.
Internet of Things labs obviate these issues.
Smart lab environment provides an inventory overview and active supply tracking so the researchers get timely notifications when supplies are running low. They are also able to automate stock replenishment and keep digital records, thus enabling IoT labs to always have a bird’s eye view of their inventory.
3. Predictive Equipment Maintenance
Research labs involve numerous devices and equipment that requires regular maintenance and servicing. Manual maintenance is costly, suboptimal, and inefficient because not all pieces of equipment have the same wear-and-tear levels nor should they be maintained similarly and with the same attention to detail. Plus, a great deal of traditional lab maintenance relies on sheer luck and accidental noticing that a certain device is about to break down.
Smart labs enable staff to have valuable insight into the condition their equipment is in. They can more easily identify which devices are used most frequently and optimize maintenance and servicing so the entire process is cost-effective and the machines themselves are less likely to give out unexpectedly. IoT sensors allow you to continuously collect valuable data and help recognize data trends in terms of lab equipment performance and condition so you can have timely insight into which device is ripe for preemptive repair.
4. Optimized Equipment Utilization and Lab Management
The traditional lab environment, even with all the LabTech advancement and new techniques, is still bound to legacy lab management strategies that remain suboptimal in terms of efficiency. This allows for frequent misplacement of equipment pieces and their subpar utilization. This is somewhat expected as there’s only so far a single paradigm can advance, which is why the IoT lab brings a paradigm shift in terms of lab management and utilization.
A smart laboratory allows for a streamlined lab management environment where all equipment pieces are easily located, tracked and monitored, enabling better usage of all equipment pieces. This reduces waste, which in turn optimizes costs through improved equipment utilization.
5. IoT-based Smart Laboratory Fuels Scientific Development
When the interoperability and connectedness of IoT lab devices are facilitated the right way, this ecosystem provides real-time data analysis that enables deep insight necessary for long-term scientific success. This type of lab automation is already changing the way scientists conduct research, tackle process development and perform manufacturing, which means that IoT is directly transforming the LabTech and ScienceTech landscape as we know it (and as we speak).
With more efficient ways of gleaning data, the researchers can be notified about events in real-time, allowing them to perform a wider range of data analysis and reuse insights to bridge workflow gaps, predict future issues, and solve problems beyond the original intent. With the centralized interface and interconnected devices, as well as with the help of AI and ML technology, scientists are capable of externally controlling the entire laboratory ecosystem of devices and streamlining experiment procedures. This results in faster experiment execution and top-tier precision, allowing lab staff to predict experiment outcomes and develop experiment hypotheses.
Another way in which the IoT lab fuels scientific development is the minimization (or complete removal) of human intervention when it comes to basic laboratory tasks. Since almost all data is highly accessible and stored in the cloud, no scientific research is easily lost. This creates more room in the researcher’s timetable for innovation and improved methods of conducting experiments that will forever alter the LabTech and science landscape.
Create a Smart Lab with IoT Solutions
Choose the right digitalisation partner that will help you build a lab of the future and leverage deep insights and technical knowhow allowing you to pave the way to competitive advantage.
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