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Proactive Lab Management with an Environmental Monitoring System

The data afforded by an EMS facilitates more effective lab management

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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Environmental monitoring systems (EMSs) are facility-wide information platforms that harvest data from a variety of sensors connected to lab equipment, infrastructure such as HVAC and energy, and other sources to provide a complete picture of the health of the facility. Rather than siloing data across multiple programs, EMSs pull all the information together in one place. With this volume of information readily available, lab managers are equipped to take a more proactive approach to running the lab. Here are five ways that lab managers can leverage an EMS to manage their lab more proactively:

Make data-driven, holistic decisions

An EMS provides an all-encompassing view of the lab at multiple resolutions, ranging from the level of the entire facility down to individual assets and equipment. There are comprehensive data points at every layer. With this volume and granularity of data, lab managers are empowered to make more informed decisions about lab processes. More informed decision-making equates to more effective decisions, which also increases the lab manager’s confidence in leading the lab.

Ensure staff safety

A good EMS will track much more than just the status of research equipment—they are directly wired to the facility’s infrastructure and physical status at any given time. For instance, the EMS continually monitors O2 levels, the presence of toxic or flammable chemicals, particulates, and more. With this information, embedded safety professionals can develop effective protocols and be alerted when dangerous conditions arise.

Maintain regulatory compliance

As mentioned, EMSs are data-dense, comprehensive systems. They simplify the process of collecting and compiling data as well as generating reports. This streamlined data handling makes it considerably easier to ensure that the lab is compliant with all relevant regulations—leaders, embedded safety professionals, and others have all the information on hand to ensure compliance. Furthermore, should an auditor request information, it should be easy and fast to deliver, which will serve to quicken the entire audit, keep lab operations on schedule, and protect project timelines.

Discover opportunities for optimization

With an EMS, you see each asset and system as it exists in relation to every other asset and system. This birds-eye view of the lab gives you the perspective needed to see bottlenecks, trace the root of inefficiencies and recurring problems, and formulate effective process changes that minimize unintended consequences.  

Anticipate issues with greater foresight

The data collected in an EMS allows you to identify trends, which can illuminate issues such as equipment that is on its way to failure. Armed with this data, you can see problems coming down the pipeline and address them preemptively, minimizing disruption while ensuring product quality.

EMSs are a boon to any lab. Besides the benefits of real-time status alerts and notifications, they enable lab managers to take a more proactive, data-driven approach to running the lab, minimizing unforeseen hurdles and last-minute delays.