In September 2012, the Institute for Laboratory Automation and Lab Manager— as part of the Lab Automation University program— will offer a series of webinars under the heading “Lab Automation Is Inevitable: Are You Ready?” The title emphasizes the direction in which technology is moving and the need for lab management to become involved in the planning required to take full advantage of these inevitable changes.
The collection of technologies that fall under the heading of “lab automation” affects every aspect of your lab’s operations: instrumentation, sample preparation, data analysis, data organization, and tools to help manage the lab’s work. If we think of them as options that we can select, we’ll miss some significant points:
- Lab data is being generated in digital form, in a variety of formats, and stored in multiple databases. Lab managers need to actively oversee these systems or risk losing control of the results their labs have worked to produce. Take a look around your lab. How many instrument data systems are there, and how many sources put data in digital form?
- The evolution of laboratory equipment is shifting toward computercontrolled systems, including instruments, electronic lab notebooks, and LIMS—all of which contain your lab’s intellectual property.
- Improvements in lab productivity and effectiveness and in testing, research, and clinical environments will be more heavily impacted by information technology than by any other technological development.
For those of you who have come from the sciences into management positions, it can be difficult to get your head around this rapid development of lab technology. But the technology MUST be understood and managed if you are going to effectively use the tools available and get the most value from every dollar of your budget.
There is a need to shift from a mind-set of discrete incremental improvements in capability to one of well-managed technology that avoids unnecessary expenditures. The goal is to develop the ability to devise a plan for technology use that guides purchases and implementations that work together.
The webinar series will cover:
- What lab automation is—and it is NOT just a collection of technologies
- The structure of the field and why it is important to you
- Classes of implementation
- Skills managers and lab staff need in order to plan and manage systems—skills that have changed significantly
- Options for improving productivity
- Management’s role in lab automation
- Issues such as system integration and paperless work environments
- Considerations in making purchases
- An overview of the technologies and product classes available
Put it all together and you have the knowledge needed to address a major change in the development of laboratory work, one that will inevitably change the nature of that work and the way people carry it out.
For more information, visit Lab Automation University On-line at http:// www.institutelabauto.org/LAUOnLine/index.html
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