The user who uses the LIMS in his laboratory focuses less on the technology than on the functionality. He is confronted with a software system that offers him an individual range of functions via selection menus, which he can use for his daily work. Essentially, the following basic modules can be found:
Order registration and sample registration
Specification of the test or examination scope
Support with sample distribution and processing
Results data recording (manual, electronic)
Release of examination results
Reporting and evaluation
Master data management
In addition, there is a wide range of other functions that are offered in the LIMS basic package or as an extension.
In most cases, the basic configuration of the LIMS is adapted to the individual characteristics of a laboratory in the course of a conception and implementation phase. Different procedures are used, which either provide for steps that build on each other or agile techniques that carry out iterative adjustments until the finished LIMS module is ready.
LIMS applications often develop further when used in the laboratory, up to highly specialised systems. If only the basic functions are used at the beginning, special evaluations, statistics, test equipment management or quality control charts are added later. In some cases, additional modules are also available, e.g. for document management, stability testing or quotation and invoice generation. Special laboratory IT solutions such as ELN, LES or SDMS can supplement LIMS applications or, in some cases, be operated autonomously.
The integration of peripherals, above all the connection of analytical devices for online acquisition of electronic measurement data, is an essential step towards increasing work efficiency and minimising errors. However, the heterogeneity of the device interfaces and the data formats create certain hurdles in the realisation of such device connections to LIMS. Therefore, there are intensive efforts to standardise communication protocols and transmission formats. Examples are communication standards such as SiLA or OPC UA as well as the XML-based data format AnIML for data exchange and storage.
Another high potential benefit lies in the electronic exchange of data with other IT systems in the company or also across the board. This includes, in particular, the integration of production planning and warehouse management systems, business management-oriented applications, but also of external systems, e.g. of the client or of public authorities. However, it often takes several years to completely realise such a highly integrated application landscape.