Basic Parts of Laboratory Information System (LIMS)

The laboratory information management system is a software-based solution with features that support a modern laboratory’s operations. It is supplants the old way of conducting scientific research with sophisticated methods and practical conventions which are necessary for blending with modern needs. There are various basic parts of laboratory information system (LIMS) which on the other hand can be identified as the laboratory information management system, or laboratory management system. These different names representing the same functions are not really distinguishable, although many might be tempted to identify few insignificant differences.

This system is used majorly to encompass a number of different laboratory informatics components. The spread and depth of these components is highly dependent on the LIMS implementation itself. All LIMSs have a workflow component and some summary data management facilities but beyond that there are significant differences in functionality.

The LIMS functionality has spread even further beyond its original purpose of sample management. Assay data management, data mining, data analysis, and electronic laboratory notebook (ELN) integration have been added to many LIMS, enabling the realization of translational medicine completely within a single software solution.

Basic Parts of Laboratory Information System (LIMS)

The basic parts of laboratory information system (LIMS) or (LIS) are going to be highlighted here in this content for the benefit of knowledge and for you to better have the idea of what it is all about, including its essence and value.

1. Sample management

As part of the basic parts of laboratory information system (LIMS), the use of barcodes makes sample management more efficient. The core function of LIMS has traditionally been the management of samples. This typically is initiated when a sample is received in the laboratory, at which point the sample will be registered in the LIMS. Some LIMS will allow the customer to place an “order” for a sample directly to the LIMS at which point the sample is generated in an “unreceived” state. The processing could then include a step where the sample container is registered and sent to the customer for the sample to be taken and then returned to the lab. The registration process may involve accessioning the sample and producing barcodes to affix to the sample container.

Modern LIMS have implemented extensive configurability as each laboratory’s needs for tracking additional data points can vary widely. 

2. Instrument and Application Integration

Modern LIMS offer an increasing amount of integration with laboratory instruments and applications. A LIMS may create control files that are “fed” into the instrument and direct its operation on some physical item such as a sample tube or sample plate. The LIMS may then import instrument results files to extract data for quality control assessment of the operation on the sample. Access to the instrument data can sometimes be regulated based on chain of custody assignments or other security features if need be.

Modern LIMS products now also allow for the import and management of raw assay data results. Modern targeted assays such as qPCR and deep sequencing can produce tens of thousands of data points per sample. Furthermore, in the case of drug and diagnostic development as many as 12 or more assays may be run for each sample. In order to track this data, a LIMS solution needs to be adaptable to many different assay formats at both the data layer and import creation layer, while maintaining a high level of overall performance. Some LIMS products address this by simply attaching assay data as BLOBs to samples, but this limits the utility of that data in data mining and downstream analysis.

basic parts of laboratory information system (LIMS)

3. Electronic Data Exchange

The exponentially growing volume of data created in laboratories, coupled with increased business demands and focus on profitability, have pushed LIMS vendors to increase attention to how their LIMS handles electronic data exchanges. Attention must be paid to how an instrument’s input and output data is managed, how remote sample collection data is imported and exported, and how mobile technology integrates with the LIMS.

The successful transfer of data files in spreadsheets and other formats is a pivotal aspect of the modern LIMS. In fact, the transition “from proprietary databases to standardized database management systems such as MySQL” has arguably had one of the biggest impacts on how data is managed and exchanged in laboratories. In addition to mobile and database electronic data exchange, many LIMS support real-time data exchange with Electronic Health Records used in core hospital or clinic operations.

basic parts of laboratory information system (LIMS)

4. Storage Organization

This is responsible for tracking the sample throughout its lifecycle in the lab. The laboratory information management system deals with an individual sample from a particular box is stored in the sample vial or tube kept in.

Also, it keeps track of the drawer box and the drawer rack the sample is stored in together with the shelf of the rack and the room number. The storage hierarchy plays an important role in locating a particular sample easily, and it includes:

  • Sample
  • Position
  • Box
  • Drawer
  • Rack
  • Shelf
  • Freezer
  • Room

basic parts of laboratory information system (LIMS)

Functions of LIMS

  • The audit management fully tracks and maintains an audit trail
  • The barcode handling assigns one or more data points to a barcode format; read and extract information from a barcode
  • The chain of custody assigns roles and groups that dictate access to specific data records and who is managing them
  • Compliance follow regulatory standards that affect the laboratory
  • Customer relationship management handles the demographic information and communications for associated clients

basic parts of laboratory information system (LIMS)

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