How a LIMS Helps Labs With QA/QC

As modern labs manage more data than ever before, they need better solutions for Quality Assurance and Quality Control.

Trying to manage QA and QC manually through spreadsheets or written documents quickly becomes inefficient as your lab grows. Fortunately, with cloud-based software platforms like a LIMS, your lab can automate tasks and manage data efficiently to streamline workflows and reduce errors. 

Read on as we show how a LIMS can help your lab with QA/QC.

What is a LIMS

A LIMS (laboratory information management system) is a software platform designed to manage and track samples, data, and workflows and integrate other software and instruments. 

By streamlining laboratory operations, LIMS platforms increase efficiency so labs can grow. A LIMS can be used in many industries, including:

  • Agriculture
  • Food and beverage
  • Environmental
  • Manufacturing
  • Diagnostic
  • Material sciences

Anytime regulations, data complexity, and sample volume are concerns, a LIMS can help. As we’ll show you later on, this makes a LIMS an invaluable tool for managing and monitoring your lab’s data, samples, and processes.

Should Labs Use a LIMS, QMS, or Both?

Many labs opt for a QMS (Quality Management System) for help with compliance.

This is a logical choice as a QMS (like a LIMS) is a software platform that helps labs organize and standardize processes, procedures, and policies. 

So which is better for managing QA/QC?

A LIMS and QMS should be thought of as “parts of the whole” rather than a replacement for each other. 

A QMS serves a narrower set of use cases than a LIMS. 

In terms of QA/QC, A QMS can help with:

  • Document control
  • Calibrating instruments
  • Tracking processes and modifications
  • Helping labs meet regulatory requirements (such as ISO 17025)
  • Ensuring labs follow Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)

A LIMS can improve upon a QMS through inventory management and workflow automation features to reduce errors and keep track of samples in your testing process. Because of this, we recommend choosing both a LIMS and a QMS; however, the right LIMS (like QBench LIMS which has a built-in QMS) can provide everything you need in one platform. 

Read on to see how a LIMS can help your lab with QA/QC.

How a LIMS Helps With QA/QC

A QMS isn’t the only software product that can help with QA, a LIMS can help your lab in the following ways:

  • Ensures data integrity and traceability
  • Real-time monitoring of KPIs
  • Standardization and compliance
  • Error reduction
  • Document control
  • Lab equipment monitoring and checks
  • Audit readiness
  • Implementing corrective actions
  • Managing inventory

Data Integrity and Traceability

The key benefit of a LIMS over manual efforts like spreadsheets is to accurately record data and ensure all data is traceable. 

This includes tracking the lifecycle of samples and usage records within the platform. Every piece of data linked to a sample is logged along with user details and timestamps, providing an audit trail that helps your lab maintain high standards of data integrity and compliance purposes. A LIMS provides several key benefits including:

  • Improved accuracy by eliminating manual transcription errors
  • Easier access to historical data for trend analysis and continuous improvement efforts
  • Audit trails that support regulatory compliance and internal QMS audits
  • Better overall consistency across the entire laboratory environment
  • Traceability of control samples to validate test results

Real-Time Monitoring of KPIs

A LIMS provides a bird's-eye view of your lab’s KPIs to make better decisions and stay on top of your lab’s performance. With a LIMS you can track metrics like turnaround time, instrument utilization rates, and error rates with ease. This helps you make better decisions and spot areas for improvement.

Standardization and Compliance

Trying to manage consistent processes manually across locations can be a logistical nightmare for labs. Fortunately, with a LIMS, it’s a cinch. A LIMS can help you enforce standard operating procedures (SOPs), ensuring that all tests and procedures are performed consistently and in compliance with your industry’s standards and regulatory requirements. 

Error Reduction

A LIMS can help reduce errors through proper inventory and test management. By eliminating the use of expired lots, tracking changes, and flagging results you can reduce errors in your testing process.

Thanks to workflow automation tools you can also reduce manual data entry to limit errors by lab staff and mistakes in your data. A LIMS helps you automate data capture and integrate instruments and software to reduce the risk of human error in data entry. Check out our guide to what you can automate with a LIMS for more inspiration.

Document Control

A LIMS gives you a centralized store of key documents for your lab. This includes SOPs, test methods, and calibration records. This ensures that only the most current and approved documents are accessible, and helps to avoid discrepancies and outdated practices. This can be critical for meeting certain compliance standards as well.

Lab Equipment Monitoring and Checks

A LIMS can be critical in ensuring quality control by monitoring and calibrating the equipment in your lab. This ensures that all equipment is properly maintained and calibrated according to established protocols, improving reliability and accuracy in test results. 

Audit Readiness

Trying to prepare for an audit? A LIMS can be essential here too. The robust tracking and logging capabilities of a LIMS make it easier for laboratories to be audit-ready at all times. With LIMS, generating reports that show adherence to QA protocols and regulatory compliance is straightforward and can be done quickly to help your lab prep for an audit.

Implement Corrective Actions

In addition to helping your lab identify problems as they arrive, a LIMS also aids in the development and execution of corrective actions. By providing a centralized platform for tracking corrective actions progress and outcomes, LIMS streamlines communication between team members and ensures that all necessary steps are taken to resolve identified issues.

Managing Inventory for Improved Traceability

A good LIMS will provide many features for inventory management. Not only do these give you an overview of the materials present in your lab, but they can also help you with:

  • Tracking which lots are used as control samples
  • Knowing lots are about to expire
  • Improving data traceability for inventory used in tests

Thanks to the inventory management features in a LIMS, you can ensure that your lab is properly tracking reference material used for tests.

How Will Your Lab Manage QA/QC? Make the Right Choice With QBench LIMS

QMS or LIMS for QA/QC?

Why not both in one platform? QBench has a QMS tightly integrated directly with its LIMS to manage lab data and monitor quality. 

QBench’s LIMS + QMS gives you:

  • An all-in-one system that saves time and money. An all-in-one LIMS + QMS means that you only have one piece of software to implement for your lab and one subscription to pay. This can be a significant time and money saver for any lab looking to scale and improve its operations.
  • Tightly integrated QMS + LIMS. Purchasing a LIMS and separate QMS means you’ll need to make the extra effort to integrate the two. Not only can purchasing two software platforms be costly, but integrating them also carries an additional fee. As your lab processes change, you will also need to update these integrations. With QBench, this happens automatically, as we provide QMS features inside of and tightly integrated with our LIMS.
  • Move faster and get more done. Spend less time implementing and managing two platforms and more time getting work done with QBench LIMS + QMS. With only one software platform to manage, implementation goes much faster. QBench also boasts a highly configurable and flexible LIMS to adapt to your processes as they change – no custom code or additional integrations required.
  • Manage inventory with ease: With QBench LIMS you can track reagents, consumable lots, and inventory use throughout the sample testing process as well as generate barcodes for quick and accurate data input. This gives you a bird’s-eye view of your lab’s inventory and helps you improve your quality control. 

If your lab is looking for a LIMS, QMS, or somewhere in between the two, then we recommend scheduling a demo of QBench’s LIMS + QMS for a walkthrough of the platform.