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Next Generation LIMS

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Abstract:

Through the course of the last several years, the utilization of Laboratory Information Management Systems in public water and wastewater laboratories has become common-place; either a utility has a LIMS, is in the process of procuring a LIMS, or at minimum is considering an implementation. These scenarios do not however completely address the market place. In fact, many utilities have been operating with a LIMS for a number of years. Rather developed internally or procured from a vendor, in an effort to continually improve, these utilities are now set to proceed with a LIMS replacement project.

What should such utilities expect during this next generation effort? Surely they learned many valuable lessons from the first go-round, but questions still abound: How has the market changed? What solution providers are strongest in the market? How might this new system work with our existing IT infrastructure? What will happen to my data? And generally, what has happened in the industry that I should be aware of? All of these with the overriding concern of improving the efficiency of the laboratory and meeting customer needs throughout.

This paper attempts to address a number of factors to consider when evaluating the next generation LIMS for a water or wastewater laboratory. Additionally, efficiencies and costbenefit analyses to be gained from such efforts will be presented. Among the topics for discussion:



Web Based. A number of LIMS are now being provided through Application Service Providers (ASP's); vendors that host the database and application with connectivity provided through your web browser. While not prolific in the water and wastewater industry, this option can present lower capital and total ownership costs particularly for small to mid-size municipal laboratories. Additionally, opportunities exist for components or elements of the system to be web-enabled (e.g., reporting).


Company Consolidation. Last years Pit-Con was home to a number of announcements regarding consolidation in the LIMS industry. The water and wastewater markets were specifically affected as two of the leading vendors were assimilated into larger or competing firms. The net effect on the industry will mean less competition but potentially improved service.


System Integration. Initial LIMS implementations focused solely on usage by and for the laboratory. While certainly correct as a first goal, today's LIMS implementations offer the ability to extend benefits far beyond the laboratory to internal and external stakeholders as well as consolidating data from other systems (e.g., SCADA, Operations, etc.).


The above topics and more, including platform considerations, stakeholder acceptance, beneficial business process change, and expectation management will be presented with realworld examples of successful and not-so-successful outcomes.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864702784164217

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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