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The Benefits of Data-Driven Asset Management

Though costly upfront, smart asset management will save big in the long run

Holden Galusha

Holden Galusha is the associate editor for Lab Manager. He was a freelance contributing writer for Lab Manager before being invited to join the team full-time. Previously, he was the...

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Thanks to the advent of Internet of Things, intelligent asset management is easier to achieve than ever. With data-driven asset management, lab managers are poised to streamline operations, make smarter purchasing decisions, and deliver to key stakeholders with confidence. While implementing a smart asset management system may require a significant investment in time and effort, the system can deliver an excellent long-term return on investment. Among the numerous benefits that intelligent asset management offers, here are some of the most significant:

Key benefits

Sustainability

With environmentalism a growing movement in the scientific community, many manufacturers are seeking ways to reduce their energy consumption, such as sensors that can track instrument usage. These data can then be used to optimize lab processes so less energy is consumed or it can inform purchasing decisions for new equipment that may be more power-efficient.

Scheduling

Another component of a data-driven asset management strategy is scheduling. By tracking usage, lab managers can implement equipment schedules that ensure every researcher gets sufficient time with each instrument for their experiments. This prevents conflicts that may arise when two researchers need the same instrument at the same time, saving time and frustration.

Additionally, instrument scheduling is helpful in troubleshooting and investigations. Lab managers can see who used the instrument, and for what, at any point. Having this data can take some of the guesswork out of troubleshooting and ensure that the right persons are held responsible in investigations.

Finally, scheduling software can reduce safety and security issues with access control features, which limit who can reserve what. For instance, they could prevent a bad actor from swiping confidential information off a workstation in the lab, or a novice scientist from reserving a piece of equipment that they may not be fully trained in operating.

Informed decision-making

Data-supported decisions enable lab managers to have confidence in their decision-making process. Collecting as much information as possible about lab assets can help managers be decisive, making smarter decisions in less time than decisions based on conjecture. For instance, utilization data allows lab mangers to prioritize service contracts and adjust preventative maintenance schedules.

In other cases, information from service and repair logs can guide lab managers in deciding when to replace an instrument. If those logs are being updated more frequently, chances are the asset in question doesn’t have much life left in it. By finding these types of trends, the lab manager can start working on finding a replacement unit before the current unit dies, which helps to minimize any potential downtime.

Digital and automated tracking

Rather than relying on people to record information manually, which is prone to error, digital asset management is much more trustworthy. These platforms can also automate data collection and relay it to a LIMS or dashboard, where the data can be pulled into reports and charts for real-time monitoring. Automation to this degree can be a significant timesaver.

Additionally, using digital storage simplifies regulatory compliance. For instance, some platforms ensure compliance with the FDA’s 21 CFR Part 11 requirement. This is accomplished by including features such as access control, activity logging to produce audit trails, network encryption, and more.

Protects relationships with stakeholders

Automatic asset data collection and monitoring is helpful in preserving sensitive samples. Modern ULT freezers, for example, have comprehensive temperature logs that can be relayed to data hubs automatically. This volume and resolution of data allows lab managers to have total confidence in the viability of the stored samples. Without this confidence, and the data to back it, managers could not deliver to stakeholders as effectively.

Saves time

Instrument monitoring can save time by reducing wasted experiments. If an experiment requires a tight temperature range, then slipping outside that range by even a single degree will invalidate the entire experiment and it will have to be performed again. With real-time asset monitoring, however, the temperature issue would be caught and corrected before the experiment was performed, thus saving the time, supplies, and money associated with performing the experiment.

Saves costs

Ultimately, all the above benefits have one thing in common: they save money. Efforts to use less energy naturally lower electricity costs, instrument scheduling reduces time wasted from double-bookings, and budgets are optimized when decisions are backed with data. 

Furthermore, protecting relationships with stakeholders ensures that clients aren’t lost, and revenue doesn’t shrink. Finally, as the adage goes, time is money. Saving time by reducing wasted experiments is saving money.

Rolling out a data-driven platform for asset management will require considerable time and energy upfront. Maintaining the system will be an ongoing task as well. Nonetheless, if the data is used effectively, smart asset management solutions will pay for themselves in little time and continually offer insight into how a lab manager can improve operations.