Understand What To Look For In Lab Management Software for Equipment

Lab management software comes in many different forms, each with its own unique specialty and focus. However, an area often overlooked by many of these solutions is in the effective management of laboratory equipment, tools, and assets.

Without a clear way to effectively address equipment maintenance and calibration data storage, labs are left to manage their essential instruments on their own. While this is not an inherently difficult task, it does require meticulous monitoring and tasks prone to human error, such as manual data entry and records management via spreadsheets or paper.

It’s no secret these tasks are tedious, time consuming, and generally low-priority for most lab managers. As such, they are often overlooked when urgent assay requests or production demands require attention. However, If left unchecked for too long, the health and reliability of a lab’s critical assets are put at risk.

“Laboratory equipment is truly the backbone of any laboratory. Scientists simply cannot create quality data, validate research findings, or meet their customers’ needs without instrumentation, measuring devices, and other essential lab tools.” says Greg Freitag, Director, Sales Operations.

“They are the workhorses lab teams rely on to generate results and validate the efficacy of their work. Ensuring their reliability to insulate against risks to the science or the customer should always be a top priority for any well managed laboratory facility.”

A way for labs to better manage the health and wellbeing of their equipment is through software. Using equipment maintenance software, labs can effortlessly manage the health and maintenance of critical instruments and assets. This article will help you understand what to look for in lab asset management software.

Importance of Lab Equipment Maintenance

Equipment maintenance is not just about prolonging the life of the equipment; it’s about ensuring your lab operations are reliable and the data your team produces is trustworthy.

Lab Management Software

Ensure Accurate, High-Quality Results

In a laboratory setting, accuracy – and being able to prove said accuracy – is paramount. Well-maintained equipment stands as the guardian of this accuracy, ensuring every test, every measurement, and every analysis is as accurate and reliable as possible.

When your equipment isn’t kept in good condition, or you cannot prove it’s in good condition and up to standard, problems can develop. The reliability and validity of every result generated with poorly maintained tools can be called into question, eroding the trust you’ve built with your clients and colleagues.

Avoid the Cost of Equipment Downtime

Every minute a piece of equipment is down, it’s not just a delay; it’s a direct hit to the lab’s productivity and bottom line. Common examples of how laboratory equipment outages negatively impact laboratory workflows include:

  • Manufacturers: Interrupts quality control testing needed to release products and delays product shipping schedules.
  • Medical Laboratory: Reduce sample throughput and delay patients and physicians from getting timely access to health related lab results.
  • Environmental Monitoring Facilities: Risk missing customer deadlines and sample integrity.

To prevent unplanned equipment outages, good equipment maintenance measures should be implemented and strictly adhered to.

Compliance Considerations

For lab managers, ensuring your lab complies with regulatory standards isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Numerous standards require equipment used to generate data to meet certain standards and conditions. If these tools are found to be non-compliant, the data they helped to generate could potentially be deemed invalid and ultimately, discarded.

Examples of standards with equipment specifications labs may to adhere to include:

  • ISO 17025
  • ISO 8655:2022
  • IEC 61010
  • Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)

Safety in the Lab Environment

Safety is non-negotiable in the workplace, and laboratory settings have unique safety risks. Properly maintained equipment can minimize these risks, ensuring that lab personnel can focus on their work without fearing equipment-related accidents. Fortify your organization’s EH&S program with software tools that ensure asset-related incidents are non-existent.

Challenges Faced by Facilities Without Dedicated Asset Lab Software

Without dedicated software to help manage your equipment’s maintenance, calibration, and long-term health, it’s simply not as easy to stay on top of these crucial tasks. Let’s delve into some of the most pressing issues lab managers often face when managing asset health without the right tools at their disposal.

Lab Management Software

1. Manual Data Management and Tracking

While tried and true methods (Excel spreadsheets, paper records) of tracking equipment can be just as effective as software-based solutions, they require a considerable amount of time and resources – time and resources that most labs simply don’t have.

Additionally, having to navigate through stacks of paper records or rely on spreadsheets is not only cumbersome but also prone to errors.

The limitations of such methods are evident: misplaced logs, misrecorded data, and the sheer time it takes to manually enter and retrieve information. This not only hampers productivity but also introduces the potential for inaccuracies that can compromise the integrity of lab results.

2. Inconsistent Maintenance Schedules

Without automated reminders or a centralized system, crucial equipment calibrations can easily be overlooked. This reactive approach, where issues are addressed only when they become glaringly evident, can lead to prolonged equipment downtime.

Moreover, inconsistent maintenance can reduce the lifespan of valuable lab instruments, leading to higher replacement and emergency unplanned service call costs in the long run.

3. Compliance and Audit Vulnerabilities

In an industry where compliance is paramount, the lack of digital traceability can be a significant vulnerability during audits. Manually maintained records might not provide the comprehensive history or proof of equipment maintenance and calibration that regulatory bodies demand.

Additionally, audit timelines can be 30-50% longer for organizations lacking a centralized system of record. This not only risks potential penalties but also jeopardizes the lab’s reputation in the scientific community.

What is Lab Management Software For Equipment?

Lab management software is a digital solution that helps laboratories monitor and manage the health of their critical assets such as analytical instruments, pipettes, analytical devices, and other essential laboratory equipment.

Unlike other laboratory software where sample and generated result data is the focus, asset lab management solutions store information pertinent to managing and maintaining laboratory equipment, including preventative maintenance records & equipment calibration data.

It’s important to note that these solutions have nothing to do with managing sample or assay data; they focus solely on asset health. Asset lab management software allows you to:

  • Keep track of all essential lab assets (equipment) & their current health status
  • Easily manage your network of external service vendors
  • Store equipment manuals and internal SOPs in one, centralized location
  • Access data about any asset from anywhere, at any time
  • Plan service and maintenance tasks
  • And more

7 Key Features to Look for in Lab Management Software for Equipment and Critical Assets

You know the value of adding asset management software to your lab management toolkit. But how do you determine which lab management software truly meets your equipment maintenance and calibration needs? Here are some key features to consider:

1. Automated Maintenance and Calibration Reminders

Staying on top of equipment maintenance schedules can be a daunting task and you need a solution that can keep you in-check when you’re busy with other priorities. If you choose one with customizable alerts, you’ll never miss an upcoming maintenance or calibration check.

With automated alerts, if an asset falls out of compliance range, you’ll instantly know and be able to pull it out of service for remediation before any of your results data can be compromised.

Plus, with the ability to set recurring schedules, you can ensure that periodic tasks are automatically queued up, ensuring everyone on your team is aware and schedules time for those tasks.

2. Digital Record-Keeping Capability

The days of sifting through binders to find a calibration check sheet, or discarding data because it was entered with the wrong pen color, can finally be in your rearview mirror if you implement the right software.

Any software you choose should seamlessly store your equipment data in a digital database and allow you to easily and instantly access:

  • Equipment calibration check data
  • Asset calibration certificates
  • Operation manuals and manufacturer specifications
  • Usage history of each asset
  • Service records and historical data
  • Location of the equipment
  • Status and annual maintenance plans
  • Vendor and service provider information

3. Integration Capabilities with Other Lab Systems

Your lab likely uses multiple software solutions. The last thing you need is another standalone system that doesn’t communicate well with other systems. To avoid this scenario, look for software that offers seamless connectivity with other platforms, such as Qualer’s CMMS with open-API capabilities. 

Open-API access can further facilitate data exchange across your lab’s tech stack, ensuring a cohesive digital ecosystem that streamlines workflows across all labs in your facility.

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4. User-Friendly Interface for Easy Adoption

We’ve all grappled with complex software that feels more like a hindrance than a help. A truly effective lab management software boasts an intuitive design that even the least tech-savvy team member can navigate with ease.

The lesson here is to choose software that is easy to use, easy to learn, and has a support team available to help whenever you need guidance or support.

5. Mobile Access for On-The-Go Recording and Monitoring

Laboratories are hubs of activity for technicians, researchers, and operations people. Needing to be tethered to a desktop to enter data is limiting. Fortunately, modern technology with iOT capabilities allows laboratories to capture data from multiple locations.

To give yourself unparalleled flexibility in managing your equipment’s maintenance program, opt for software with a responsive design that’s functional on smartphones and tablets.

It should be cloud-based and allow for real-time updates, that way you can always capture important equipment data directly into its database, even when it’s in a different location (such as a satellite lab or off-site facility).

6. Reporting and Analytics for Performance Insights

It’s not always easy to create a clear, cohesive picture of the health and status of laboratory equipment with most software solutions used in laboratory settings. Many lab managers end up tracking pieces of an assets history and maintenance program in different locations and formats.

This can easily lead to inefficient asset management and potentially risk the health of significant capital investments. With asset management software, laboratories can keep all pieces of data surrounding an asset in one, centralized, easily accessible database.

The right software can give you an instant bird’s eye view of an asset’s current status, history, usage details, maintenance needs, and even expected date of replacement. This level of reporting detail allows you to proactively address potential issues, implement effective preventive maintenance solutions, and extend the lifespan of your equipment assets.

7. A Support Team You Can Rely On

Even the best software can present challenges. That’s why it’s crucial to have a 24/7 support team at your beck and call. Whether it’s a technical glitch or a query about a feature, you need to know experts are available and ready to assist.

Education and training must be part of the onboarding process for any digital solution you introduce to your lab. This is important to help users adopt the new system and to understand its full potential.

Benefits of Implementing Lab Asset Management Software

As discussed above, how well a lab maintains and manages their equipment assets plays a key role in their overall operational success, and this is where a CMMS for asset management can help. Let’s take a look at how software that helps streamline and simplify asset management processes can be beneficial to a lab and its team.

Enhance Accuracy and Confidence of Outgoing Lab Data

Protecting the integrity and validity of data is paramount to any laboratory operation and assets can impact data results greatly. As we’ve established, it can be the linchpin of any lab operation.

With dedicated software, the meticulous task of managing the maintenance and calibration programs of your operation-critical equipment becomes streamlined. This helps to keep each asset running as it should – within its defined specifications and tolerances.

A happy result of this is if any results are generated with help from your equipment, you can quickly identify an asset’s health and performance from when the data was generated and rule out equipment malfunction as a possible source of error.

In essence, having dedicated equipment maintenance software is a helpful layer to safeguard the trustworthiness of your lab’s outputs and retain ongoing trust with your clients.

Time and Resource Efficiency

Time is a precious commodity in every laboratory. Finding new ways to increase productivity is always a good thing. While investing in new assets is one way to increase capacity, it’s a very expensive route that also increases labor, reagents, and utility costs. 

Another option is to maximize the resources and assets already available to you and your team.

This is where asset management software can really help.

Lab management software acts as a catalyst, automating many of the time-consuming and routine tasks and frees up time for your team to focus on revenue generating tasks.

Lab Asset Management Software

Seamless Asset Compliance Management

Navigating regulatory standards and ensuring compliance can be daunting, especially if a lab’s equipment and relevant data isn’t in a continuous audit-ready status.

With digital traceability and automated record-keeping, lab management software becomes a lab manager’s ally to make meeting and maintaining compliance easier and more visible.

Proactive Equipment Health Monitoring

The health of your lab equipment shouldn’t be an afterthought. Assets are often considerable investments, taking a proactive maintenance approach will help ensure you don’t have to replace your assets before their lifespan is up.

With real-time monitoring and alerts, lab management software shifts the paradigm from reactive to proactive maintenance. This not only extends the lifespan of your equipment but also ensures minimal downtime, keeping your lab operations smooth and uninterrupted.

Real-World Examples of How Lab Management Software for Asset Maintenance is Used

Understanding the potential of a software solution is one thing, but it doesn’t always outline how laboratories use them to make their day-to-day lab life better. Let’s explore some real-world scenarios that showcase exactly how equipment asset management software fits into laboratory operations.

Ensuring Compliance in Biotech Startups

Biotech startups are young labs; they have the unique potential to create a solid asset maintenance foundation using the latest tech innovations. This isn’t just to ensure smooth operations, though. Healthcare startups are under intense scrutiny due to recent fraud events. A greater level of transparency is needed to keep biotech startups in business.

With regulatory bodies keeping a close watch, maintaining a comprehensive record of every piece of equipment becomes vital. CMMS solutions shine in this aspect, offering a centralized digital repository for equipment manuals, calibration certificates, and maintenance logs.

This approach not only ensures a smooth audit process when needed, but also showcases a startup’s commitment to upholding the highest standards. And with the added advantage of visual insights, lab managers can easily present their compliance status.

Diagram 1: Compliance Process for a Biotech Startups Equipment

Lab Management Software

Start Your Lab Off On the Right Foot with Qualer

Start-ups can save thousands through the Qualership program.

Streamline Calibration in Pharmaceutical Labs

Pharmaceutical labs are known for precision, accuracy, and strict attention to detail at every step of an assay procedure. This includes knowing the errors, tolerance limits, and specifications of every tool and asset used to generate data.

Key assets used to deliver results in a pharmaceutical lab require periodic calibration, regular calibration checks and maintenance service. In a high-volume pharmaceutical manufacturing facility, manual tracking of these tools quickly becomes a daunting task. Software that considers these unique needs can make keeping assets readily available and reliable easier with:

  • Automated Reminders: CMMS sends timely notifications, ensuring no instrument misses its calibration date.
  • Digital Logs: Every calibration activity is digitally recorded, eliminating paper trails.
  • Compliance Adherence Tracking: Ensures every instrument calibration certificate and calibration check data is properly logged and available to stakeholders.
  • Increase Efficiency: Reduces downtime by monitoring assets and supports strong preventative maintenance protocols.

Manage Asset Lifecycle in Research Institutions

University research labs have a diverse range of instruments. Some are used daily, such as pipettes, while others serve specific research projects. With such varied usage, predicting the lifespan of each equipment piece becomes crucial. CMMS comes into play here, offering insights into equipment usage patterns and wear and tear.

With a comprehensive maintenance history at their fingertips, lab managers can make informed decisions about equipment replacements. This proactive approach ensures that researchers never face unexpected equipment downtimes, ensuring the continuity of their projects.

Lastly, adhering to maintenance and asset investment budgets becomes more manageable, which is always a prime concern in any research project. With clear insights into equipment health and projected lifespans, lab managers can allocate funds for future equipment needs and extend the lifespan of current assets.

How to Choose the Right Lab Equipment Management Software For Your Needs

Purchasing decisions for a lab are never easy; they require careful consideration and research. Asset management software is no exception. There are numerous options available and not everyone is right for an organization’s needs.

When you’re ready to bring asset management software onboard, be sure to consider the following questions before investing in a provider.

  • What are your specific equipment maintenance needs? How many of your assets heavily impact your facility’s data and results? Do they meet compliance requirements and are they checked for calibration accuracy at regular intervals? What ongoing maintenance issues exist that impact productivity and data integrity?
Lab Equipment Management Software
  • What software features does your facility require? Would a system that alerted you when an instrument was due for service or, when it performed out of its tolerance limits be of use to you?Do you need a cloud-based option that doesn’t require hardware investments and can be accessed from any location? How about one that helps you manage all service vendors in one convenient interface?
  • What security features does a software provider offer? Keeping laboratory data protected is of critical importance to all labs, especially in light of recent cyber attacks targeting medical lab facilities.Before choosing a software partner, be sure they can keep your critical data safe from hackers and your environment compliant with security requirements.
  • What is a provider’s reputation? Do they have reviews and testimonials that impress you? A provider of lab management software for equipment maintenance should be viewed as a partner you’ll work with for years to come. Be sure the one you choose meets the following criteria:
    • Communicates easily with you and your team
    • Is available to provide education, training, and on-going support
    • Is obsessed with meeting their clients’ needs
    • Is willing to provide innovative ideas and solutions based on your lab’s unique needs
  • What is the pricing model of the software you’re considering? Software as a service (SaaS) solutions can also vary in terms of their pricing. Common pricing models for SaaS products can be:
    • Pay-as-you-go
    • Monthly subscription
    • Usage based pricing
    • Tiered pricing
    • Feature-based pricing
    • And more

Laboratories should explore what pricing model is best for their long-term objectives and budget before as part of choosing the right software for their operation.

What support and education does the software provider offer? Is training, education, and ongoing support part of a provider’s services? CMMSes are powerful solutions; to properly operate one and leverage the full extent of its capabilities, you need a provider who can show you the way.

Lab Equipment Management

How Qualer’s Lab Equipment Management Software is Shaping the Future of Asset Control

Track All Assets in One Centralized Place

Stop chasing records, manuals, and calibration certificates with a solution that has them neatly stored in one, easily accessible location. Qualer’s cloud-based solution allows you to access asset records from anywhere, at anytime and seamlessly share that information with auditors, technicians, and other key stakeholders

Some examples (but not an exhaustive list) of what asset data you can manage in real-time with Qualer’s CMMS includes:

  • Purchase and acquisition information
  • Calibration check data and checklists
  • Maintenance schedule
  • Vendor and service provider information
  • User history
  • Location and status

Manage Vendors and Service Teams

Most labs work with multiple equipment vendors and service teams to maintain their critical tools and assets. Qualer’s software acknowledges the time and effort needed to properly manage asset vendors and makes this process easier for lab managers to oversee.

Our solution lets you store all vendor contracts and information as well as lets you quickly identify what vendors are associated with an asset. Each service vendor receives access to a portal, to make scheduling maintenance service and certificate delivery easier and less time consuming.

Improve Collaboration with Other Stakeholders

A centralized repository of asset data gives stakeholders across your organization a way to exchange and access information about lab equipment more efficiently and conveniently.

Qualer understands the performance and health of a lab’s equipment impacts multiple people within a facility. Our platform helps to give every person involved in an asset’s care and operation easy access to the data they need.

Secure the Integrity of Your Data

Qualer’s CMMS gives labs the power to set real-time alerts and be notified when mission-critical equipment isn’t functioning as it should – and may jeopardize the integrity of your team’s data. Teams can set defined limits regarding an asset and alert the correct person if those limits aren’t met.

Examples of how this feature can secure data include:

  • Environmental monitoring. If the temperature of a climate-controlled environment (fridge, freezer, storage area) shifts outside of required parameters, a team member can be notified immediately and take appropriate action.
  • Keep assets audit ready. Proper management of equipment assets gives labs the ability to keep their assets in an audit-ready state; Qualer’s solution makes that reality more easily achievable.
  • Seamless data capture. Instead of recording data on paper records and transferring that data to a digital database by hand, Qualer’s CMMS gives labs the ability to capture data digitally and reduce the chance of data entry errors from occurring.

Open-API Integrations

We know modern laboratories often work with multiple software solutions. We also know that it can be frustrating when these mission-critical platforms aren’t able to communicate with each other. That’s why we have made our CMMS with open-API capabilities that allow you to connect all mission-critical software solutions to our platform.

Get More From Your Laboratory Assets with Qualer

Keep your lab operating at top capacity and ensure your assets can keep pace without falling into disrepair with help from Qualer. Our CMMS is designed by people with experience in the laboratory industry that are familiar with what’s required to implement a comprehensive asset maintenance program.

We’re also fully committed to future-focused and customer-centric experience. Our goal is to help lab managers leverage the power of modern technology to generate high-quality data, maintain compliance with industry standards, and eliminate the manual elements of asset management.

Book a call today and find out how we can help.

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