LII:The Laboratories of Our Lives: Labs, Labs Everywhere!/Labs by industry: Part 3

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We continue to look at 20 broad industry categories and the laboratories associated with them. For each you'll find a brief description with common services and how the lab type affects the average person. As discussed previously, using our client type + function model we dig into examples found in the private, government, and academic sectors and then outline function through activities, sciences, test types, equipment, and unique attributes.

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5. Labs by industry: Part 3

Geology and mining

Mining near the city of Tomsk in Russia.jpg

Geology and mining laboratories are responsible for analyzing rocks, minerals, and metals; monitoring and reporting on the status of mining operation effects on the environment; and teaching and promoting research of geological and mining science and engineering concepts. These labs are involved at most stages of geological and mining operations, from exploration and production to remediation. These labs are found in the private, government, and academic sectors and provide many different services, including (but not limited to)[1][2][3]:

  • chemical analysis
  • physical testing
  • earth magnetism measurement
  • petrological imaging
  • soil suitability and fertility
  • environmental analysis and remediation
  • drill core analysis
  • purity testing

How do geology and mining laboratories intersect the average person's life on a daily basis? Tracking down how these labs intersect our lives is comparatively a bit more difficult than the industries we've looked at previously. From an environmental standpoint, when regulated, contamination testing is important to the ecosystems in and around a mining site. The oxidation of sulfide minerals and the corresponding acidification of the environment is well known in the mining community, requiring tested and standardized methods to limit the effects.[4] Secondarily, research coming out of geology and mining labs is helping to make current and future mining activities safer for humans and guiding the implementation of early-warning systems for earthquakes.[5] Without these laboratories in place, there's a higher likelihood humans and animals alike would face a higher risk of poisoning or death.

Client types

Private - These labs focus on providing third-party analysis and consultation services to industry and government, including explorations services, environmental chemistry, and purity testing.

Examples include:

Government - Many governments around the world have geology and mining departments, divisions, etc. responsible for contamination testing, water quality monitoring, and applied research. They also occasionally offer their services to outside parties and agencies.

Examples include:

Academic - Like other industries, academic labs in geology and mining programs contribute diverse research programs to society while teaching the next generation of geologists, engineers, and miners.

Examples include:

Functions

What are the most common functions? analytical, research/design, QA/QC, and teaching

What materials, technologies, and/or aspects are being analyzed, researched, and quality controlled? alloys, base and minor metals, minerals, precious metals, sediment, soil, water

What sciences are being applied in these labs? chemistry, environmental science, geology, geotechnical engineering, metallurgy, mineralogy, mining engineering, petrology, seismology

What are some examples of test types and equipment?

Common test types include:

Absorption, Age determination, Angle of repose, Atterberg limits, Bioaccumulation, Carbon-hydrogen ratio, Characterization, Compression, Compaction, Consolidation, Density, Durability, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Grain and particle size, Grindability, Hydraulic conductivity, Identification, Inclusion, Isotope analysis, Macroetch, Metallurgical analysis, Mobility, Moisture, Nuclear density, Organic carbon, Oxidation reduction potential, Passivation, Permeability, pH, Proficiency, Radioactivity, Radiochemical, Refractive index, Seismic, Shear, Stability, Stress corrosion cracking, Ultraviolet

Industry-related lab equipment may include:

autoclave, balance, calorimeter, chromatographic, compressive strength tester, furnace, jaw crusher, magnetic separator, microscope, mill (various), pH meter, photoelectric flame photometer, reflectance/gloss meter, roll crusher, sieve shaker, spectrophotometer, titrator, thermogravimetric analyzer, viscometer

What else, if anything, is unique about the labs in the clinical research industry? While many geology laboratories are indoors, outdoor labs — i.e., field studies — are an important part of the industry. Those that are indoors tend to stand out; take for instance the approximately 20 luminescence geological dating laboratories in the U.S., responsible for dating geological substances.[6] Also note there is often industry crossover with the petrochemical industry, which depends on sound geological science for much of its operations.

Informatics in the geology and mining industry

The most obvious place where informatics intersects geology and mining operations and labs can be seen in the geographic information system (GIS), a data management tool for capturing, storing, analyzing, and visualizing spatial or geographic data. While used in other industries such as power and utility, agriculture, and logistics, the GIS serves as a valuable tool for mineral exploration, production scheduling, and mine remediation. Informatics methods are being applied to mines in other ways as well, including using remote-operated drone data to map and characterize voids in underground mines.[7] Companies like Thermo Fisher offer laboratory information management systems (LIMS) to the industry, allowing their associated laboratories to more efficiently analyze mineral, water, and other samples in an automated or on-demand fashion.[8] And international conferences such as the International Multidisciplinary Scientific GeoConference SGEM bring together researchers and practitioners to discuss many aspects of the industry, including applications of informatics such as data modeling, remote sensing, database development, and geo-visualization of temporal data.[9]

LIMSwiki resources

Further reading



Law enforcement and forensics

Day 253 - West Midlands Police - Forensic Science Lab (7969822920).jpg

The forensic laboratory is responsible for aiding in crime investigations, helping investigators identify remains, place an alleged killer at a particular crime scene, or identify and characterize crime scene evidence. They also serve as training grounds for future forensic scientists. Less occasionally, forensic laboratories operate as private, third-party contract labs that work with government investigators or private industry to analyze DNA, fire debris, paint, etc. These labs provide many different services, including (but not limited to)[10][11][12]:

  • DNA analysis
  • fire debris analysis
  • metallurgical analysis
  • vehicle fluid analysis
  • trauma analysis
  • skeletal identification
  • body fluid identification
  • evidence screening
  • facial reconstruction
  • audio/image enhancement
  • carbon dating of remains

How do law enforcement and forensic laboratories intersect the average person's life on a daily basis? Your average person won't feel much impact from a forensic lab, at least in a direct sense. Indirectly, forensic labs help capture criminals, which in theory reduces the chances of a criminal running free to cross paths with you. Should you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of requiring the services of a forensic laboratory (whether to help solve a crime that has impacted you or help clear you of wrongdoing), you'll feel the impact more succinctly; this lab depends on tried and true techniques employed by knowledgeable laboratorians to solve crimes and give some measure of peace to those negatively affected by them. Without these labs, we'd arguably have more criminals get away with their crimes, leaving more cases unsolved.

Client types

Private - These labs are less common than government and academic labs, but where they do exist, they tend to take on contract analysis and consultation work for a variety of clients.

Examples include:

Government - Government forensic labs make up a significant chunk of the bunch, whether at the federal, state, or local level.

Examples include:

Academic - Academic forensic labs may be used by undergraduate students, but they are largely reserved for graduate level training of students. Some university forensic labs may also provide their facilities and services to government agencies and coroner's offices.

Examples include:

Functions

What are the most common functions? analytical, research, and teaching

What aspects and/or technologies are being analyzed, researched, and quality controlled? biological specimens, bullets and casings, computers, evidence, explosive devices, fingerprints, firearms, ink, insects, pollen and spores, remains

What sciences are being applied in these labs? biology, chemistry, cryptography, digital forensics, entomology, forensic anthropology, forensic engineering, forensic imaging, forensic odontology, medical science, molecular biology, physics, psychology, toxicology, veterinary forensics

What are some examples of test types and equipment?

Common test types include:

Age determination, Amino acid analysis, Biomolecular, Counterfeit detection, Cross-drive, DNA profiling, Failure, File carving, Fire debris, Forensic toxicology, Gunshot residue, Isotope analysis, Proficiency, Solubility

Industry-related lab equipment may include:

balance, binocular microscope, blood analyzer, burette, centrifuge, chemical storage cabinet, chromatographic, compound microscope, confocal microscope, cryostat, elecrophoresis equipment, evaporator, evidence drying cabinet, extractor, fingerprint development chamber, fluorescent plate reader, freezers and refrigerators, FTIR microscope, fume hood, fuming chamber, graphite furnace, hyperspectral imaging system, microplate handler, microscope, microtome, PCR system, refractometer, spectrometer, spectrophotometer, stereo microscope, viscometer

What else, if anything, is unique about the labs in the law enforcement and forensics industry? Forensic science is significantly cross-discipline in nature, with anthropology, biology, chemistry, cryptography, entomology, medical science, toxicology, and a host of other disciplines getting involved with the analysis and characterization of a wide variety of evidence types. As such, gaps may exist in knowledge and know-how in some areas of analysis, requiring the recruitment of outside help for more esoteric analyses.[13]

Informatics in the law enforcement and forensics industry

A 2014 paper in the Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences highlighted "both the organisational challenges and the information system architecture" of forensic informatics software implemented in Queensland, "which established workflows tailored to the timely production of forensic intelligence to reduce, disrupt and prevent crime."[14] Indeed, that goal is similar to forensic laboratories around the world: how can data management systems and other informatics technology improve forensic intelligence?

  • Informatics can support forensic pathology and death investigations, which often involve a significant amount of textual and image data associated with both autopsy and scene of death.[15]
  • Informatics can better guide investigations into computer and network forensics, including data recovery, intrusion detection and analysis, and computer fraud.[16]

Offshoots of informatics application to forensic science also occur, as can be seen in the IEEE Intelligence and Security Informatics conference, which discusses the intersections of informatics, IT, medical and bioinformatics, forensic science, and many other fields with the goal of governments' "anticipation, prevention, preparedness and response to security events, in physical, cyber, enterprise, and societal spaces."[17]

LIMSwiki resources

Further reading



Life sciences and biotechnology

PAPRs in use 01.jpg

Life sciences is a broad category of scientific disciplines associated with the study of living organisms. Studies at the molecular level as well as the use of living systems and organisms to make products for human purposes (biotechnology) have expanded the concept of life sciences even further. Biological and health sciences are at the heart of life science and biotechnology laboratories, with a broad array of branches/disciplines falling under the umbrella. From the plant experiments and analyses at Space Florida's Space Sciences Lab[18] to the neurological and brain studies at the Neuroinformatics and Brain Connectivity Lab at Florida International University[19], just about anything to do with living organisms and their components is being analyzed, researched, and synthesized in a life science and biotechnology lab. These laboratories are often research-focused, intent on making discoveries to improve plant, animal, and human life. These labs are found in the private, government, and academic sectors and provide many different services, including (but not limited to):

  • researching neuropsychiatric disorders[18]
  • researching plant stress tolerances[19]
  • molecular imaging[20]
  • gene targeting[20]
  • gene base sequence analysis[20]
  • antibody analysis[20]
  • protein and peptide analysis[20]
  • DNA sequencing and fragment analysis[20]
  • biomarker discovery and validation[20]

How do life sciences and biotechnology laboratories intersect the average person's life on a daily basis? Have you received treatment for cancer? A life science lab was behind the development and/or improvement of that therapy. Have you ever eaten a soybean? The plant that grew it was likely improved in some way by the research at life science lab. From the new medicine you take for your medical condition to the new advances in genetics that allow you to detect disease earlier, don't forget your life has most likely been touched by a life science and biotechnology lab in some way.

Client types

Private - Some private labs in the life sciences are foundations or institutes, others are companies.

Examples include:

Government - Government-based life science labs are often part of a branch, agency, etc. and have focused goals either as part of the branch/agency or as mandated research from higher up in the government.

Examples include:

Academic - These labs are typically graduate-level and act as hotbeds for researchers of all types.

Examples include:

Functions

What are the most common functions? analytical, research/design, QA/QC, and teaching

What materials, technologies, and/or aspects are being analyzed, researched, and quality controlled? biological specimens, cancers, DNA, genes, organs and systems, plant materials, proteins

What sciences are being applied in these labs? anatomy, bioinformatics, biology, botany, cardiology, genetics, genomics, hematology, kinesiology, medical imaging, microbiology, molecular biology, nephrology, neurology, oncology, pathology, physiology, proteomics, pulmonology, toxicology, and many more

What are some examples of test types and equipment?

Common test types include:

Absorption, Adhesion, Age determination, Aging, Amino acid analysis, Antimicrobial, Antigen, Biomolecular, C- and N-terminal, Carcinogenicity, Circular dichroism, Colorimetric, Compression, Cytology, De novo protein, Degradation, Detection, Developmental and reproductive toxicology, Dietary exposure, Disulfide bridge, DNA hybridization, Electrophoresis, Genotype, Identification, Isotope analysis, Macro- and microstructure, Microfluidics, Minimum bactericidal concentration, Minimum inhibitory concentration, Molecular weight, Pathogenicity, Peptide mapping, Post-translational modification, Proficiency, Protein analysis, Protein characterization, Terrestrial toxicology

Industry-related lab equipment may include:

balance, bioreactor, biosafety cabinet, cell counter, centrifuge, DNA sequencer, dry bath, electrophoresis equipment, Erlenmeyer flask, flow cytometer, freezer, fume hood, gel documentation system, immunoassay system, incubator, laminar flow cabinet, microplate equipment, mixer/shaker, molecular imager, osmometer, PCR workstation, pipettor, protein sequencer, reagents, spectrometer, spectrophotometer, thermal cycler

What else, if anything, is unique about the labs in the life sciences and biotechnology industry? Many laboratories in the life sciences and biotechnology sector are funded by significant external investments, grants, and initial public offerings (IPOs). For example, the National Institutes of Health awarded 7,328 grants worth a total of $3.3 billion to California life science labs in 2014.[21] Others turn to private charitable foundations or even biotech and pharmaceutical companies to help fund research efforts.[22]

Informatics in the life sciences and biotechnology industry

Referred to as bioinformatics or life science informatics, the application of information management and other software systems to the life sciences has become increasingly necessary as data-intensive automated instruments and methods drive today's lab research and experimentation. Tools that can analyze cells, molecules, and even atoms are helping researchers solve challenges of disease diagnosis and therapy production, giving patients better quality of life as a result. Informatics software helps integrate these various instruments and drive new discoveries through the mining, analysis, visualization, and simulation of the disparate data. Journals such as Bioinformatics, Cancer Informatics, and Frontiers in Neuroinformatics, as well as conferences such as the Rocky Mountain Bioinformatics Conference[23] and the IEEE International Conference on Bioinformatics and Biomedicine[24], help drive further innovation in how informatics can benefit the life sciences. Examples of life science laboratory advancements include the development of computer algorithms to answer biological questions, the improvement of next-generation sequencing (NGS) data management, and the development of tools to help us better understand the epidemiology of complex diseases.[25]

LIMSwiki resources

Life sciences

Bioinformatics

Further reading



Logistics

Laboratories related to the logistics industry serve several different functions. Academic research laboratories are key to the analysis and development of transportation systems and safety, traffic models, geographic information systems, freight logistics systems, supply chains, and transit systems. Secondarily, private logistics labs may provide third-party analytical services on cargo to verify authenticity and assist in custody transfers. These labs are found in the private and academic sectors, and occasionally in government, providing many different services, including (but not limited to):

  • analysis of cargo for custody transfer[26]
  • analysis of cargo for dispute resolution[26]
  • detection of radiation[27]
  • detection of explosives and evaluation of detection tools[28]
  • development and improvement of material flow management components[29][30]
  • development and improvement of transportation and routing policies[29][30]
  • modeling and analysis of traffic and driving behavior[29][30]
  • analysis of logistics data[29][30]

How do logistics laboratories intersect the average person's life on a daily basis? Research-based logistics labs produce laboratorians who, for example, may be knowledgeable in the ways of traffic flow and civil engineering. Those individuals may go on to learn more and provide contributions to the transportation department of a city, state, or even federal entity, finding ways to improve your daily commute to work. Those same laboratorians may also have background and experience with electric and self-driving vehicles, contributing their expertise to the growing infrastructure required to run self-driving vehicles effectively, again improving your commute. Secondarily, logistics laboratories may reduce the changes of dangerous materials such as malicious radioactive materials and explosive devices making their way into the country via port, which is beneficial to dock workers and end users of products.

Client types

Private - Private logistics labs tend to provide analytical testing services of cargo, facilitating custody transfers and providing expertise in legal disputes.

Examples include:

Government - Governments occasionally engage in research into and investigation of logistics issues of a region or country.

Examples include:

Academic - Universities provide laboratory resources to undergraduates and graduates keen to learn more about logistics issues and apply research to real-life problems.

Examples include:

Functions

What are the most common functions? analytical, research/design, QA/QC, and teaching

What materials, technologies, and/or aspects are being analyzed, researched, and quality controlled? coal and coke, concentrates, fertilizers, food stuffs, land transportation, marine transportation, mass transit systems, petrochemicals, policy and governance, supply chains, traffic, user/driving behavior, vegetable oils, waste water

What sciences are being applied in these labs? data science, economics, engineering, logistics, management, mathematics, physics, process optimization, risk management, social science, statistics

What are some examples of test types and equipment?

Common test types include:

Absorption, Accelerated stress testing, Cargo inspection and sampling, Climatics, Contamination, Corrosion, Counterfeit detection, Damage tolerance, Dimensional, Drop, Durability, Edge crush, Electromagnetic compatibility, Emissions, Flammability, Flash point, Freight flow, Immersion, Impact, Incline impact, Integrity, Last-mile distribution, Leak, Metallurgical analysis, Permeability, Phytosanitary, Proficiency, Radioactivity, Reliability, Safety, Shear, Shock, Stress corrosion cracking, Tear, Tensile, Thermal, Traffic modeling and analysis, Ultraviolet, Vibration, Weathering

Industry-related lab equipment may include:

autoclave, balance, biohazard container, biosafety cabinet, centrifuge, chromatographic, colorimeter, computer workstations, desiccator, dry bath, fume hood, geographic information system, homogenizer, hotplate, incubator, magnetic stirrer, microcentrifuge tube, microplate reader, microscope, multi-well plate, orbital shaker, personal protective equipment, pH meter, pipettor, powered air purifying respirators, refractometer, simulation software, spectrophotometer, statistics software, syringes, test tube and rack, thermometer, water bath

What else, if anything, is unique about the labs in the clinical research industry? A majority of logistics laboratories are dry labs, meaning they're not analyzing "wet" biological samples, applying reagents, etc. Instead they often heavily rely on software systems to conduct their research and educate new students. However, wet labs do exist in the logistics industry, usually for product and commodity testing of shipments — often petrochemicals — for custody transfer and dispute resolution.[26]

Informatics in the logistics industry

Though slightly dated at this point, an excerpt from the foreword to Luo's Service Science and Logistics Informatics seems relevant here[31]:

As [the] world economy gets increasingly integrated, logistics and supply chain management, through the use of advanced information and service technologies, become critically important. This requirement entails tight alignment of business strategy and judicious use of advanced information technologies. It also necessitates infrastructures for streamlining front-end and back-end management and business processes, and resolution of emerging global integration and interoperability issues.

In supply chain management, prompt reaction to short-term, often abrupt changes in supply networks is critical to the quality of service and sustainability of a logistics business. Informatics is being applied in the lab to analyze these changes, integrating information from numerous sources, and provide valuable information towards favorably altering material flow and production. This can be done real-time, or theoretical work can be performed with simulation software.[32] In cargo testing, information management software such as Camin Cargo Control's NetSynergy[33] improve logistics labs' ability to improve compliance control and the analysis process itself. These improvements and others are further perpetuated by standards groups such as the IEEE SMC Technical Committee on Logistics Informatics and Industrial Security Systems[34] and the tangentially related International Conference on Logistics, Informatics and Service Sciences.[35]

LIMSwiki resources

  • None

Further reading



Manufacturing and R&D

A manufacturing and R&D laboratory is what it sounds like: a lab associated with the manufacturing process as well as the research and development (R&D) activities that come before it. These labs can be found as part of the company structure, inside a manufacturing facility or separate from one. They may also appear as independent, third-party businesses that contract their services and expertise out to manufacturers and inventors who don't have their own laboratory resources or design knowledge.

It's important to note that when looking at many of the other industry categories in this guide, prior and after, you should notice serious crossover with manufacturing and R&D. In fact, laboratories associated with the automotive, aerospace, and marine; food and beverage; and pharmaceutical industries are almost entirely affiliated with manufacturing and R&D activities. As such, you may notice some redundancy in the test types listed below and those listed in the previously mentioned industry sections. This section is focused on manufacturing and R&D in a more generic, all-encompassing way.

These labs are found heavily in the private sector. Some labs may also appear in the government as part of state-funded effort, and others show up in the academic departments of some universities as an extension of their graduate-level research programs. Manufacturing and R&D laboratories provide many different services, including (but not limited to)[36]:

  • development of advanced materials for manufacturing
  • reverse engineering of products
  • miniaturization of products
  • analysis of shelf life
  • quality control testing
  • biocompatibility testing
  • comparison testing
  • formulation of recipes
  • characterization of materials
  • review and evaluation of designs
  • innovation of manufacturing processes

How do manufacturing and R&D laboratories intersect the average person's life on a daily basis? Unless you live a life of simplicity, growing and making your own food and materials, free of the industrial world, you most likely already know your life is touched by manufacturing and R&D labs on a daily basis. The mobile phone you use, the vehicle you drive or ride in, the pre-packaged food you eat, and the pharmaceuticals you take largely exist because scientists in a laboratory — wet or dry — designed, tested, and quality controlled it. Without these labs, the industrial and technological world you know today would fall apart rapidly.

Client types

Private - Private manufacturing and R&D labs are a staple of the industry, putting people's ideas to work. From a company's internal labs to third-party contract labs, much of the research, development, and quality control activities in manufacturing runs through here.

Examples include:

Government - While not super common, government at times sets up and/or funds laboratories that are dedicated to advancing the field of manufacturing through new and improved fabrication and engineering techniques.

Examples include:

Academic - These laboratories are typically part of a graduate research program, training future engineers and laboratorians while spawning new ideas. As seen with the examples below, the focus on learning and researching manufacturing processes may specialize into specific industries such as food and beverage or nanotechnology.

Examples include:

Functions

What are the most common functions? analytical, research/design, QA/QC, and teaching

What materials, technologies, and/or aspects are being analyzed, researched, and quality controlled? The list is seemingly infinite, but a few examples include adhesives, battery electrolytes, ceramics, fiber composites, food preservatives, lubricants, metals, nutritional supplements, plant extracts, polymers, rocket engines, semiconductors, and valves.

What sciences are being applied in these labs? Again, the list is long, and the type of science used will depend on what is being developed. The most obvious scientific disciplines include all types and variations of biology, biomechanics, chemistry, engineering, food science, materials science, mathematics, molecular science, nanoscience, and physics.

What are some examples of test types and equipment?

Common test types include:

Absorption, Accelerated stress testing, Accelerated weathering, Acceleration, Acoustical, Acute contact, Acute oral, Acute toxicity, Adhesion, Aging, Alcohol level, Allergy, Altitude, Antimicrobial, Artificial pollution, Ash, Bioavailability, Bioburden, Biocompatibility, Biodegradation, Biomechanical, Biosafety, Boiling - freezing - melting point, Calorimetry, Carcinogenicity, Case depth, Characterization, Chemical and materials compatibility, Chronic toxicity, Cleanliness, Climatics, Combustion, Compaction, Comparative Tracking Index, Comparison, Compliance/Conformance, Composition, Compression, Conductivity, Contact mechanics, Contamination, Corrosion, Cytotoxicity, Damage tolerance, Deformulation, Degradation, Design review and evaluation, Design verification testing, Detection, Dielectric withstand, Dimensional, Discoloration, Disintegration, Dissolution, Dissolved gas, Drop, Dynamics, Edge crush, Efficacy, Efficiency, Electromagnetic compatibility, Electromagnetic interference, Electrostatic discharge, Elongation, Emissions, Endotoxin, Endurance, Environmental fate, Environmental metabolism, Environmental stress-cracking resistance, Ergonomics, Etching, Expiration dating, Extractables and leachables, Failure, Fatigue, Fault simulation, Flammability, Flash point, Flavor, Fluid dynamics, Fluorescence, Formulation, Fragrance, Friction, Functional testing, Genotoxicity, Grain and particle size, Hazard analysis, Heat resistance, Human factors, Hydraulic, Identification, Immersion, Impact, Impurity, Incident analysis, Incline impact, Inclusion, Inflatability, Ingredient, Ingress, Inhalation, Integrity, Irritation, Iterative, Labeling, Leak, Lightning, Load, Lot release, Lubricity, Macroetch, Macro- and microstructure, Mechanical, Mechanical durability, Metallurgical analysis, Microfluidics, Minimum bactericidal concentration, Minimum inhibitory concentration, Mobility, Moisture, Molecular weight, Mutagenicity, Nanoparticulate, Neurotoxicity, Nutritional, Optical, Oxidation reduction potential, Oxidation stability, Passivation, Pathogen, Penetration, Performance, Permeability, pH, Pharmacokinetic, Photometric, Photostability, Phototoxicity, Plant metabolism, Plating and coating evaluations, Polarimetry, Power quality, Preservative challenge, Pressure, Process safety, Proficiency, Purity, Pyrogenicity, Qualification, Quality control, Radioactivity, Radiochemical, Reflectance, Refractive index, Reliability, Resistance - capacitance - inductance, Safety, Sanitation, Saponification value, Seismic, Sensory, Shear, Shelf life, Shock, Smoke point, Solar, Stability, Sterility, Stress corrosion cracking, Subchronic toxicity, Surface topography, Tear, Tensile, Thermal, Torque, Total viable count, Ultraviolet, Usability, Validation, Velocity and flow, Verification, Vibration, Visibility, Viscosity, Voltage, Weathering, Water activity

Industry-related lab equipment may include:

Like materials tested and sciences applied, the lab equipment of a manufacturing and R&D lab will vary based upon what is being designed, tested, and quality controlled. Food R&D is going to depend on a somewhat different set of laboratory tools than say a lab developing a jet engine, pharmaceutical, or mobile phone.

What else, if anything, is unique about the labs in the manufacturing and R&D industry? When it comes to labs that are prevalent but behind the scenes, manufacturing and R&D laboratories stand out. It's easy to take for granted the products we use in our lives; most of the time they taste good, function as expected, or cause the desired effect. That's not to say that shoddy laboratory processes, equipment, and raw materials don't produce bad tasting, non-functional, poorly advertised products because they do; the lab is only part of the equation. But in our industrialized, technological world, we shouldn't forget just how ubiquitous these sorts of labs are. In U.S. colleges and universities alone, 211.8 million net assignable square feet of research space were set aside in 2013 for laboratories, panels, and test rooms to conduct research in all types of sciences, clinical and R&D.[37] Now think about how many private businesses are doing the same thing? Put together, the National Science Board estimated that U.S. R&D activities totaled $456.1 billion in 2013.[37]

Informatics in the manufacturing and R&D industry

Energy optimization and modelling, waste optimization, and methodology improvement are all areas that informatics-friendly manufacturing and R&D labs are looking to improve.[38] Journals such as IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics[39] and conferences such as the International Conference on Industrial Informatics and Computer Systems[40] help expand those and other goals for R&D labs.

Additional ways informatics is impacting labs and the industry:

  • Additive manufacturing (AM) — the process of building up a component layer by layer with a powdered base material (which is relatively new itself) — is being improved through the application of informatics technologies towards the research, development, analysis, and improvement of AM components and tooling, driving down costs, improving part quality, and making processes more efficient.[41]
  • "There is direct need of assessment tools to monitor and estimate environmental impact generated by different types of manufacturing processes," state Zhao et al. Though still in its infancy, some R&D labs are beginning to create associations between their product designs and how they impact the environment.[42]

LIMSwiki resources

Further reading


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References

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Citation information for this chapter

Chapter: 5. Labs by industry: Part 3

Title: The Laboratories of Our Lives: Labs, Labs Everywhere!

Author for citation: Shawn E. Douglas

License for content: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Publication date: July 2017