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What is Lab 4.0?

The Lab 4.0 as the digital future of the laboratory. In medicine, too, we keep reading about new technical developments and digitalization interventions in various professions. So, in analogy to Industry 4.0, Lab 4.0 is now also on the cutting edge of its development and will represent the reality of lab workers in the future.

Activities that were previously performed manually are to be digitized. Data should be managed better, communication should succeed faster, work processes should be automated and time should be saved.

But how exactly can all this work? What is this Lab 4.0 all about? In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about Lab 4.0.

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What is Lab 4.0?

The term “Lab 4.0” is based on “Industry 4.0,” which refers to digitization in industry. The number four here stands for the fourth revolution, which is characterized by:

  • self-control
  • self-optimization

The goal of this revolution? Fully networked production. Your remedy? Digitization. In many parts of our everyday lives, digitization has already moved us forward. It connects people worldwide, provides cross-border communication, news dissemination, entertainment, time saving and much more. These functions will now also be used in laboratories.

Complete networking, digitization and the automation of processes in laboratories are the goal of the fourth revolution. Digitization thus represents the foundation of the Lab 4.0.

Advantages of digital transmission

The fourth revolution has its origins in an essential problem of laboratories: the inadequate, faulty and inconsistent equipment of laboratories. Laboratories cover a wide range of tasks: they are the place for experiments of various kinds, process and quality controls, tests, measurements, calibrations and many other activities.

Advantages of digital transmission

Whether it is a chemistry, biology, physics or cosmetics lab, each lab has a variety of equipment to serve the different areas of work. These devices are essential and indispensable for the work of laboratory staff. However, in the past, this equipment has frequently shown significant deficiencies that affect the work.

Up to now, the equipment of laboratories has often been a heterogeneous landscape of devices from different manufacturers. In addition, electronic systems have been insufficient to support the work of staff, so that the collection and contextualization of generated data has been very complex, error-prone, and time-consuming.

Due to the lack of essential equipment, many activities had to be performed manually until now, which led to a high susceptibility to errors in the managed data.

Networking between all devices: the laboratory information system

To be able to implement Lab 4.0, all devices must therefore be digitized. This means that they must be digitally networked with each other to enable smooth data exchange. In addition, systems that are worked with in a lab from now on must have interfaces with the equipment to ensure seamless communication.

An essential system that represents an important component in Laboratories 4.0 is the laboratory information system – or LIMS for short.

What is a laboratory information system?

Laboratory information system is the generic term for all EDP applications – EDP stands for electronic data processing. LIMS are generally used in sample-oriented laboratories. Here they serve the …

  • … Data processing
  • … Provision of information
  • … Creation of access to the database
  • … Documentation of laboratory activities
  • … Device control
  • … Analysis of scientific experiments
  • … Storage and creation of a register of the collected data

Laboratory information systems are modular in structure, which means that you have various functions (modules) available with a LIMS, which you can add or remove as required. In addition, there are interdisciplinary and specific modules, such as sample tracking, master data management and documentation of master data changes. Thus, laboratory information systems can be individually adapted to different laboratories and precisely matched to the respective task areas.

The core task is the management of laboratory orders, which the LIMS processes in the laboratory and then transmits the results of the orders to other medical facilities, such as doctors’ offices. Laboratories are connected to other medical facilities in both directions by a laboratory information system, which significantly improves communication and makes it possible to communicate without hurdles even over long distances.

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How does digitization work in the lab?

How is the digitization of a laboratory now successfully implemented? In addition to the laboratory information system, there are initially other important components that help to ensure that Laboratory 4.0 can function properly. These include samples, laboratory equipment, operating stations and machines or production facilities.

  • Samples: The samples in Lab 4.0 are to be identified by machine and thus unmistakably assigned/coupled to the existing digital data. This is made possible, for example, by barcodes or RFID tags.
  • Laboratory equipment: Laboratory equipment must be networked so that all collected data can be viewed directly via the laboratory information system.
  • Operating stations: Operator stations are used where the electronic transmission of data is not yet possible.
  • Machines or production facilities: Last but not least, machines and production facilities can be used to digitally transfer data from external sources to the laboratory.

It is also important to note that although the laboratory information system is considered the central laboratory software, it must also be connected to other systems, such as those already in use in the laboratory. The connection enables the exchange of digital data between different systems, which is of utmost importance for various work processes.

The digitization of the laboratory brings many advantages. For example, thanks to the connection to the laboratory equipment, the LIMS can make predictions regarding failures or sample qualities. All in all, work steps are linked much more seamlessly, time is saved considerably and error rates can be minimized.

In summary

The Lab 4.0 represents a revolution of the conventional laboratory based on digitalization. To seamlessly connect workflows, facilitate communication, manage data in a secure and organized manner, and automate work steps, all laboratory equipment is digitally connected.

The use of central laboratory software enables the clear and structured storage and management of data as well as the control of laboratory equipment. Working time that was previously spent on manual tasks is saved and the workflow is much more pleasant and targeted.

The transformation of the conventional laboratory into a Laboratory 4.0 can be successfully achieved by networking all laboratory devices and systems – centrally the LIMS.

To the Lab 4.0 with Probatix

We at Probatix are geared towards bringing your laboratory to the next level and enriching it with our software in the long term. You can easily connect Probatix to existing systems – easily and flexibly. As the front end of your laboratory, Probatix supports and facilitates your everyday work in all areas and turns you into a laboratory 4.0!

Any questions?

Do you have any questions? Then simply contact us via our contact form.

We are looking forward to meeting you!

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