How Does a Laboratory Automation Needs Assessment Benefit Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) Implementation and Operation?

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Many laboratories may have the expertise to translate manual processes and laboratory automation requirements into a detailed specification document for all of the system requirements, features and functions of a LIMS. However, that may not be the best utilization of their resources. In addition, this can be labor intensive and the laboratory personnel may be too close to the project and may not be objective or may not be familiar with some of benefits of new tools and technology available. An expert Needs Assessment can provide a strong foundation and a powerful road map to the successful implementation of a LIMS and can also save the laboratory significant resources. This document can provide the laboratory team with a comprehensive document that can be used to prioritize automation enhancements, provide automation recommendations and allow all internal and external (vendor) team members to have a common blueprint.

Background

The Gwinnett County Department of Public Utilities operates and maintains a central laboratory for analyzing water, wastewater, and environmental samples. On a daily basis, Gwinnett Water Resources Laboratory (WRL) conducts chemical analyses and biological testing to ensure regulatory compliance, such as the Clean Water Act (specifically, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)) and Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The WRL staff includes analysts, field personnel (including the Industrial Pretreatment Program), management, and computer support for a total of 25 employees. The WRL processes approximately 20,000 samples and performs 57,000 analyses per year. The WRL is currently accredited by The American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) to the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025:1999, 'General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories'. Many of these requirements are the same as those required by National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Conference (NELAC).

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