LII:LIMS Selection Guide for Manufacturing Quality Control/Closing remarks
6. Closing remarks
The breadth of manufacturing-related industries can at times be breathtaking. From materials, metals, and machinery to food, textiles, and chemicals, most of modern society finds an intersection with their current life and a manufacturer. The Teflon on your frying pan, the steel in your car, and the Rayon in your clothing are all products of manufacturing, and many a laboratory back those manufacturers' efforts. This wasn't always the case, however, as history has shown. It wasn't until the mid- to late nineteenth century that manufacturing moved beyond the humble solo or cooperative laboratory making a handful of chemicals or pharmaceuticals (as with the apothecary of yore). The rise of the industrial research lab in the twentieth century saw manufacturing industries take off pre- and post-war, with labs acting as companions helping to ensure higher-quality recipes, as well as safer, more reliable, higher-quality products. Today, we see labs helping manufacturers achieve these goals through their roles in research and development (R&D), pre-manufacturing and manufacturing, and post-manufacturing regulatory and security operations. All of these roles inevitably highlight the demand for improved safety and quality in manufacturing facilities.
Of course, safety and quality aren't stand-alone concepts that function in a vacuum. Demand for safety and quality influence the creation and use of standards, as do regulations that demand manufacturers focus more on that safety and quality in their workflows and outputs. Peering into the world of manufacturing standards and regulations, we find a complicated and extensive collection of recommendations and rules almost always driven by some knowledgeable consensus body both national and international. Given the numerous manufacturing-related industries, standards and regulations are numerous and often unique to the industry. This requires significant data, information, and workflow management to both ensure quality and meet regulatory guidelines. Here enters various laboratory and business informatics solutions to help give manufacturers more control over their operations, make new insights, and be as competitive as possible in an increasingly competitive manufacturing environment.
Choosing an informatics solution like a laboratory information management system (LIMS) is no simple task, however. There are numerous considerations to make not only of the greater manufacturing industries but also the developers of applications for such industries. Increasingly important are interfaces among systems such as LIMS, manufacturing execution systems (MES), enterprise resource planning systems (ERP), product life cycle management systems (PLM), measurement instruments, and more. Some vendors even offer specialized platforms like "materials informatics platforms" and "applied sciences platforms" for manufacturers, mudding the waters further. Taking into account the wide variance in software approaches to manufacturer challenges, it's no simple task to ensure your manufacturing-related lab has what it needs to best succeed.
This guide has sought to help such labs better decide on their LIMS or other informatics solution. Aside from addressing all the above, this guide has also provided practical advice towards LIMS acquisition while highlighting the features broadly required by manufacturing-based labs to better do their work. Considerations concering cybersecurity, implementation, maintenance and warranty, and more have been addressed. Additional resources for finding LIMS vendors and consultants have been provided, as have sources of conferences and trade shows in various manufacturing-related industries. Additionally LIMSpec, a specification for manufacturing-related labs, is also addressed, both in passing and, at the end, in full form. Of course, a LIMS specification isn't complete without some dialogue about how best to put it to use, and Chapter 5 has addressed that. Happy LIMS hunting and acquisition!
Citation information for this chapter
Chapter: 6. Closing remarks
Title: LIMS Selection Guide for Manufacturing Quality Control
Edition: First Edition
Author for citation: Shawn E. Douglas
License for content: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International
Publication date: May 2023