Unlocking the Potential of Automated Imaging Tools in Cell Culture and Assay Development

In the dynamic landscape of cell biology research, advancements in technology continually reshape our understanding of cellular processes and pave the way for innovative discoveries. Automated imaging tools stand at the forefront of this revolution, offering researchers valuable insights into improving routine cell culturing techniques and enhancing the effectiveness and reproducibility of downstream cell-based assays.

Automated imaging tools help researchers learn more about how to make cell culturing better and how to improve the accuracy and consistency of cell-based tests. Unlike traditional manual methods, which are prone to subjectivity and variability, automated imaging offers an objective, quantitative analysis of cellular parameters in real time.

This level of precision and consistency is essential for optimising cell culture conditions, evaluating the efficacy of experimental treatments, and ensuring the reproducibility of results across experiments. Additionally, high-content imaging capabilities enable researchers to multiplex their analyses, simultaneously probing multiple cellular features within the same sample. This holistic approach not only enhances the efficiency of assay development but also allows for a more comprehensive assessment of cellular responses to various stimuli.

Overall, automated imaging tools empower researchers to unravel the complexities of cellular processes with unprecedented accuracy and throughput, driving innovation and accelerating discoveries in cell biology.

 

Enhancing Cell Culturing Techniques with Automated Imaging

Cell culture lies at the heart of many biological studies, serving as a foundational technique for a myriad of applications, from basic research to drug discovery. However, traditional methods of assessing cell health and behaviour often rely on subjective observations and manual interventions, leading to variability and inefficiencies. Enter BioTek’s LionHeart FX, which can revolutionise cell culture workflows by providing real-time, quantitative data on cell morphology, viability, and proliferation. BioTek Lionheart FX allows you to capture, process, analyse, annotate images, and produce videos with ease. By automating image acquisition and analysis, researchers can gain deeper insights into cellular dynamics, optimise culture conditions, and ensure reproducibility across experiments.

Agilent BioTek Lionheart FX Automated Microscope

 

Empowering Assay Development

The effectiveness of cell-based assays hinges on the accuracy and reliability of the data obtained. BioTek’s Cytation emerges as a game-changer, offering high-content imaging capabilities that enable multiplexed analysis of cellular parameters in a single experiment. Digital microscopy and multimode detection deliver both phenotypic data and quantitative data from one instrument, maximising laboratory productivity. With its automated imaging and image analysis features, Cytation streamlines assay development accelerates screening processes and enhances the robustness of downstream assays, ultimately driving efficiency and productivity in research endeavours.

Agilent BioTek Cytation C10 Confocal Imaging Reader

 

Optimising Workflow Efficiency with Integrated Liquid Handling

Liquid handling is a critical aspect of cell culture and assay development, where precision and accuracy are paramount. Manual pipetting procedures not only pose a risk of human error but also limit throughput and scalability. In this regard, BioTek’s MultiFlo FX delivers unparalleled flexibility and efficiency by integrating automated liquid handling with imaging capabilities. Whether dispensing media, performing cell-based assays, or conducting plate washing steps, MultiFlo FX streamlines workflows, minimises hands-on time, and ensures consistent results, empowering researchers to focus on data analysis and interpretation.

Agilent BioTek MultiFlo FX Multimode Dispenser

 

Embracing the Future of Cell Biology with BioTek

In the rapidly evolving field of cell biology, leveraging state-of-the-art technology is essential for driving innovation and pushing the boundaries of scientific discovery.

 

BioTek’s Cell Analysis instruments represent a beacon of innovation, offering researchers a comprehensive suite of tools to elevate their research to new heights.

 

Smart Lab Design: Maximising Space and Efficiency

Thanks to film and television, everyone thinks labs are generous spaces filled to the brim with the latest equipment. In the reality of the world of scientific discovery, where breakthroughs are born from the confines of laboratories, the paradox of limited space presents a unique challenge. The quest for efficient and innovative smart lab designs becomes imperative, transforming constraints into opportunities for creativity and optimisation.

 

The significance of space optimisation in lab design

Lab spaces, often regarded as the epicentres of innovation, are not immune to the constraints of real estate. The importance of space optimisation in lab design cannot be overstated, especially when faced with the challenges of limited square footage. Efficient use of space directly impacts workflow, collaboration, and the overall productivity of the lab.

Even the science world isn’t immune to the fact that rising operational costs for businesses means lab space costs more and budgets might not allow for that extra room. New labs just starting out might have a small space to work with and grow from there but it gives them a chance as well to find an efficient layout for business growth.

Maximising limited lab space

Having less space doesn’t have to be a big hurdle for a lab to overcome. With thoughtful planning and strategic design, it’s possible to make the most out of every available square meter. Here are some practical ideas to address the challenge:

1. Modular furniture: Opt for modular and flexible furniture that can be easily rearranged to accommodate changing research needs. This adaptability ensures that the lab layout can evolve without major renovations. Bench space that has wheels and clips means the configuration can be altered as the lab changes.

2. Vertical storage solutions: Utilise vertical space for storage. Shelving, cabinets, and other storage solutions that extend upward maximise storage capacity without encroaching on valuable floor space.

3. Shared workstations: Implement shared workstations and collaborative areas to reduce the need for individualised spaces. This fosters a sense of community and optimises the usage of available space.

4. Streamlined equipment selection: Choose compact and multi-functional equipment. Advances in technology have led to the development of instruments that offer robust performance while minimising the physical footprint.

Perfect examples of space-saving equipment include the Agilent Cary 630 FTIR Spectrometer, the world’s smallest FTIR, and the Agilent 5900 ICP-OES, which is the smallest ICP-OES on the market.

 

Innovative lab layouts and new instruments

Rather than viewing limited space as a hindrance, consider it an opportunity for innovation. Novel lab layouts that prioritise collaboration and flexibility can emerge from the constraints of space limitations.

Embrace open-concept designs, shared spaces, and fluid workstations that encourage dynamic interaction among researchers. Additionally, explore the latest advancements in analytical instruments designed specifically for compact labs. Instruments that integrate seamlessly, require minimal space and deliver optimal performance are key to navigating the challenges of limited lab space.

Space-saving solutions with Chemetrix

The quest for efficient lab design in small spaces is not just a practical necessity; it is an opportunity for creative solutions and innovative layouts. By adopting smart lab designs and leveraging space-saving instruments, laboratories can transcend the limitations of physical space, fostering an environment where groundbreaking discoveries thrive.

As laboratories embark on the journey to optimise their limited space, exploring space-saving analytical instruments becomes a critical step. Chemetrix offers a comprehensive portfolio of instruments designed to be user-friendly, integrate seamlessly with existing systems, and maximise efficiency within confined lab spaces. To unlock the potential of space-saving solutions tailored to your lab’s unique needs, contact Chemetrix today. Together, we can redefine the boundaries of innovation, even in a small space.

The AI Advantage in Revolutionising Lab Quality Control

Imagine a lab where precision meets efficiency, and every operation is optimised to perfection. In the intricate world of laboratory operations, a silent revolution is underway – the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to elevate the standards of quality control. A game-changer that holds the key to unlocking unparalleled advancements in scientific research and experimentation.

 

The crucial role of AI in lab quality control: Today and tomorrow

As laboratories grapple with increasing complexities in research and analysis, the importance of AI technology becomes increasingly apparent. AI is not just a futuristic concept; it is the present and the future of laboratory operations. Today, AI is being harnessed to enhance quality control practices by providing real-time monitoring, predictive analytics, and automated decision-making.

Looking ahead, AI is poised to become the cornerstone of innovation in labs, offering solutions to challenges that were once deemed insurmountable.

 

Benefits of using AI in lab quality control: Precision redefined

Real-Time Monitoring: AI systems can monitor and analyse data in real-time, providing an instantaneous and comprehensive view of lab processes. This facilitates early detection of anomalies and deviations, allowing for immediate corrective actions.

Predictive Analytics: By leveraging historical data, AI can predict potential issues before they occur. This proactive approach enables labs to implement preventive measures, minimising the risk of errors and ensuring consistent quality.

Automation of Routine Tasks: AI excels at automating repetitive and routine tasks, freeing up human resources for more complex and creative endeavours. This not only increases efficiency but also reduces the likelihood of human error in quality control processes.

Enhanced Data Analysis: The power of AI lies in its ability to analyse vast datasets quickly and accurately. This capability is invaluable in quality control, where precise analysis is paramount for ensuring the reliability of results.

 

Future-proofing lab operations with AI

As we embrace the current wave of AI applications in quality control, it’s crucial to consider how these technologies can future-proof lab operations and inspire innovation. Integrating AI-driven technologies like machine learning algorithms, robotic process automation, and advanced analytics positions laboratories at the forefront of scientific advancement. Imagine a future where AI not only optimises existing processes but also catalyses the development of novel methodologies and approaches, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in scientific research.

 

Explore AI for your lab

In the race toward scientific excellence, laboratories cannot afford to overlook the transformative potential of AI in quality control. The possibilities are vast, and the benefits are tangible. To unlock the full spectrum of AI-driven innovations, labs must explore and embrace these technologies actively. The lab of the future is not a distant vision; it is a reality that can be shaped today through the strategic integration of AI in quality control processes.

With more laboratories embarking on the journey toward AI-driven quality control, the call to action is clear – explore the possibilities, discover the potential, and redefine the future of your lab.

 

To take the first step towards integrating AI into your quality control processes, engage with leading experts and solution providers. The evolution of laboratory operations awaits, and AI is the key to unlocking unparalleled advancements in quality control and scientific discovery.

 

Strategic Decision-Making: Balancing Innovation, Budget, and Technology in Scientific Research

Did you know that even in the world of cutting-edge scientific research, principal scientists grapple with a delicate dance between budget constraints, selecting the right tools, and keeping abreast of technological advancements? It’s an intricate tapestry of decisions that define the success of laboratories and the critical role principal scientists play in this high-stakes balancing act.

In the ever-evolving landscape of scientific discovery, the interplay between budget considerations, the selection of the right tools, and staying ahead in technological advancements is more complex than meets the eye. The choices made in this delicate dance have far-reaching implications, influencing the pace of innovation and the ultimate success of research endeavours.

 

Why Balancing Budget and Technology Matters for Labs

Effective budget planning is paramount for maintaining financial stability, allocating resources wisely, and ensuring the sustainability of research programs. In the world of laboratories, where breakthroughs and advancements are the currency of success, discussions around balancing budgets and technology choices are not just financial exercises but strategic imperatives. Simultaneously, the choice of technology and tools can make or break the success of experiments, affecting the quality and reliability of results.

The principal scientist’s dilemma lies at the crucial nexus of these considerations, shaping the trajectory of scientific progress within a laboratory.

 

Considerations for Success

Budget Planning: Principal scientists must master the art of budget planning, understanding the financial constraints of the laboratory while aligning resources with overarching research goals. Strategic budget management involves forecasting, risk assessment, and transparent communication to secure funding for critical initiatives.

Tool Selection: The right tools are the backbone of successful scientific breakthroughs. Factors such as scalability, versatility, and long-term viability when selecting tools must be considered. The goal is to invest in instruments that meet current needs and adapt to the evolving demands of research.

Staying Ahead in Technology: In a world where technological advancements are rapid, it’s vital to keep laboratories at the forefront of innovation. Regular assessments of emerging technologies, collaboration with industry leaders, and fostering a culture of adaptability are essential for staying ahead in the dynamic realm of scientific research.

 

Inspiration for Laboratory Optimisation

Imagine the transformative potential when laboratories optimise their budget, tools, and technology choices. Principal scientists can inspire a culture of innovation by championing a holistic approach that embraces efficiency and excellence. Encourage your team to reevaluate the choices made in the lab, fostering an environment where every decision aligns with the overarching mission of scientific advancement.

 

Partnering with Chemetrix for Optimal Solutions

As principal scientists navigate the intricate landscape of budget constraints and technological choices, partnering with industry leaders becomes paramount. Chemetrix stands as a beacon of innovation, offering solutions that seamlessly integrate budgetary considerations with cutting-edge technology. This isn’t just a challenge; it’s an opportunity to redefine the landscape of scientific research.

Reducing the Environmental Impact of Laboratories: A Call to Sustainable Action

Did you know that laboratories, the epicentres of scientific discovery, also leave an indelible footprint on the environment, contributing significantly to waste and energy consumption? It’s time we scrutinise the environmental impact of labs and explore actionable steps toward a more sustainable future.

In the pursuit of scientific breakthroughs, laboratories often overlook their environmental impact, but the repercussions are significant. As we grapple with climate change and environmental degradation, the imperative to reduce the ecological footprint of labs becomes ever more critical. Sustainable practices in laboratories not only contribute to global environmental conservation but also foster a culture of responsibility and forward-thinking innovation within the scientific community.

 

Why it matters: The environmental imperative for labs

The environmental impact of laboratories is substantial, from energy-intensive equipment to disposable plastics and hazardous waste. A survey by Agilent revealed that nearly 80% of labs surveyed recognise the importance of sustainability but only 44% have established formal sustainability initiatives. The urgency to address this dissonance lies in the fact that labs are significant contributors to pollution, resource depletion, and carbon emissions. By adopting eco-friendly practices, labs can mitigate their environmental impact and lead the charge toward a more sustainable scientific future.

 

Tips for reducing lab environmental impact: A roadmap to sustainability

  • Energy efficiency: Invest in energy-efficient lab equipment, such as fume hoods, freezers, and autoclaves. Regular maintenance and calibration can further optimise energy usage.
  • Waste reduction: Minimise single-use plastics by opting for reusable alternatives. Implement waste segregation practices and explore recycling programs for items like pipette tip boxes and sample vials.
  • Green procurement: Choose suppliers and products with eco-friendly certifications. Consider the life cycle of consumables and equipment, prioritising those with minimal environmental impact.
  • Water conservation: Implement water-saving measures, such as using water-efficient autoclaves and incorporating responsible water-use practices in experiments.
  • Sustainable lab practices: Foster a culture of sustainability within the lab. Encourage staff to turn off equipment when not in use, adopt electronic documentation systems, and participate in eco-friendly initiatives.
  • Decreasing Helium usage: There is an increased shortage in the supply of helium, which is causing a shift to using hydrogen for GCMS instead. Agilent is realising new upgrades on various instruments to allow GCMS to run on hydrogen safely.

Agilent is also focusing on decreasing argon consumption in their Agilent 4210 MP-AES by using nitrogen as an alternative. The Agilent 5800 ICP-OES also utilises the least amount of argon.

Did you know that utilising more efficient UHPLC methods can decrease waste generation by 5 times or more on average? It can also increase lab productivity substantially.

Explore our range of Agilent 1290 HPLC systems with a variety of different detectors and MassSpecs to suit your lab’s needs.

Explore our products

Sustainability has always been a crucial factor for Agilent Technologies. The below article shares how they are leading the way in sustainable supply chains and instrument production from a holistic approach.

Read the article here

 

Reflecting on your lab’s impact

Imagine the collective impact of every lab committed to sustainable practices. By reflecting on your lab’s environmental impact, you not only contribute to a healthier planet but also set an example for the broader scientific community.

The responsibility to reduce the environmental impact of laboratories rests not just on researchers and lab managers but on the entire scientific community. By adopting sustainable practices, labs can align their efforts with global initiatives for environmental conservation and contribute meaningfully to a healthier planet. Consider the legacy your lab leaves behind – one that goes beyond scientific discoveries to embrace a commitment to environmental stewardship.

 

Partnering with Chemetrix for a sustainable tomorrow

As we embark on the journey toward greener labs, it’s essential to collaborate with industry leaders committed to sustainable solutions. Chemetrix stands at the forefront of providing environmentally conscious options for analytical instruments and consumables. By partnering with Chemetrix, your lab can actively contribute to a sustainable tomorrow.

Reach out today to explore how together, we can redefine the future of scientific research with a shared commitment to environmental responsibility.

AI Technology and the Lab of the Future

In 2022, Agilent announced its acquisition of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technology developed by Virtual Control, an AI and machine learning software developer that creates innovative analysis solutions in lab testing. Agilent will integrate the software, known as ACIES, into its industry-leading gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GS/MS) platforms to improve the productivity, efficiency and accuracy of high-throughput labs the company serves around the world.

ACIES automates the labour-intensive task of gas chromatography/mass spectrometry data analysis improving efficiency in the laboratory workflow, from sampling to reporting. Agilent will integrate the technology into its MassHunter software package for LC/MS and GC/MS instruments.

 

Digital labs

This move by Agilent signals that the digital age is very much here for laboratories. Science has always driven the world forward and now it will do the same for laboratories.

The lab of the future is a concept built on the foundation of digitalised labs. It encompasses smart technological workflow systems that are connected and capable of collecting vast amounts of data via integrated automation.

A digitalised lab should be considered a more advanced lab as it has more access to data. With data being key to transforming science, increasing amounts of data generated in any lab, let alone a digitally connected lab, could be a game-changer – but only if it’s collected and synthesised into information and knowledge that is useful.

The digital environment (i.e., paperless work in an electronic format) capitalises on digitalisation. It incorporates all of the necessary instrumentation for complete data analysis and enables the full value of the data for decision-making. The ability to monitor operations and provide more sophisticated insights is a core reason for introducing AI into the operational lab environment.

 

 

Transforming science

Artificial intelligence (AI) is often defined as the ability of a machine to learn how to solve cognitive challenges. However, in the context of scientific methodology and laboratory interconnectivity, AI is starting to be used for capturing data to model human observation and decision-making processes.

Taken forward, connecting all instruments in a lab via AI enables the opportunity for an even more astute understanding of the interactions between technology and also users, potentially providing an all-inclusive view of all laboratory operations.

Accessing this powerful source of information will become a necessary component of scientific productivity. This is an inevitable next step in creating lab management systems that are so efficient and provide knowledge that is so valuable that only AI will be able to produce them.

AI, coupled with universal sensing capabilities to detect and monitor a range of variables, e.g., an instrument’s power draw, enables companies to realise certain operational and financial benefits to their business and plan for the future. Through high-quality and readily available insights, AI enables the simultaneous monitoring of all equipment usage in the lab and holistic capacity tracking.

Watch our webinar on Industrialising High-Throughput Glycoproteomics Using AI for Clinical Use

 

Staying competitive in a competitive world

Globally, scientific innovation is accelerating, so labs need to consider the technology investments required to become digitally enabled in order to keep up and stay competitive. We live in a data-driven world, so scientific laboratories must fundamentally transform how they create, manage, and effectively use all the data that is generated in their lab ecosystem. Achieving and sustaining a competitive edge in a world of constant change will require the continual transformation of lab operations and scientific data management. This will be the first and most important step toward becoming a truly digitalised lab.

 

Standardising honey fingerprinting methods

Although previous work has been done developing case studies for fingerprinting foodstuffs, including honey, the approaches among laboratories have been different regarding sample preparation and instrumental conditions. There are also differences in terms of data processing and analysis. As a result, two laboratories analysing the same sample may obtain slightly different results. Ideally, developing a standardised fingerprinting method that could be used across all LC/MS-based workflows, enabling the same testing technique to be used across multiple laboratories, would be optimal and where future work is aimed.

Read our article on Fingerprinting Honey to Ensure Purity

When addressing the issues of food safety, product quality, and authenticity, each may be governed by separate sets of regulations. For example, looking at the residues of contaminants in honey, such as pesticides, there may be differences globally. Countries may have their restrictions for the maximum limit for specific compounds. Contaminants are a part of the picture when considering fingerprinting for honey, but permitted levels may vary between countries.

Additionally, as samples come from the field to the lab for testing, there is potential interest in reversing this and bringing the lab out into the field instead. This interesting but not yet recognised capability would enable regulators and the global food industry to respond more quickly to honey contamination and food fraud.

Step into the future, elevate your business and talk to our team of experts about how you can improve the productivity, efficiency and accuracy of your lab.

Tips for Preserving Data Integrity

Credible lab results depend on the quality and reliability of your data, regardless of which industry or function your lab serves. The complexities of ensuring data integrity can be overwhelming, but we are here to assist you and optimise your lab’s performance.

The final phase of the analytical process is perhaps the most critical stage for assuring data integrity. This is where raw data, factors, and dilutions come together to create reportable values, and labs must consider and respond to the potential for improper manipulation — in all its various forms.

There are a few critical choices to be made around calculation and reporting that impact compliance, the trustworthiness of results, and even the reputation of the lab.

Watch our webinar on Addressing Data Integrity Gaps webinar

No lab wants to go through all the work of setting up methods, conducting analysis and gathering data only for it to be for nought or at risk because the data integrity system wasn’t up to par. Here is our advice for maximising lab efficiency and data integrity simultaneously:

 

Go paperless as far as possible

No matter where calculations happen, it must be possible to see the original data, calculation procedure (method), and outcome. In addition, there must be sufficient transparency to capture any changes to factors, values, or the calculation procedure for review. To meet these requirements, there are three primary options to consider:

A spreadsheet: This remains the least efficient, least compliant, and least effective option for data integrity. A spreadsheet typically has manual data entry and permits an analyst to recalculate results before printing and saving the desired result values for the permanent batch record. Why do so many labs continue to choose it? Not simply to support the paper industry but because it is familiar and comfortable. It is time to move on to better options.

A LIMS or ELN application: If configured correctly, many of these applications have audit trail capabilities, access controls to prevent unauthorised actions and versioning of calculations, the ability to perform calculations that are problematic for chromatography applications, and more. However, their ability to interface is a process strength and data integrity weakness. Data sent into LIMS or ELN can be manipulated externally and then sent to the LIMS or ELN for calculation.

A CDS application: The chromatography data system is often the best calculation location. It usually provides access control to prevent unauthorised changes, versioning of calculations, and audit trail reviews for changes in calculated values and the calculations themselves. In addition, the calculations are in the same system that holds the original (raw) data, so that review is usually within one system.

 

Cut reporting time without increasing data integrity risks

Focus on the highest risks and use a CDS application to accelerate the reporting process. Interestingly, the greatest data integrity risks are sometimes indicated by a lack of out-of-specification (OOS), out-of-trend (OOT), or out-of-expectation (OOE) results. In many cases, falsification activities are directed at making test results that would fail the specification into passing results through various forms of data manipulation. This makes it prudent to carefully review results near specification limits (say, within 5%) to verify that all changes and calculations are scientifically justified.

To accelerate your reporting process, don’t print all your data; print a summary. An exhaustive printout makes it harder for the second person to review. Instead, leave most data electronic, print the summary, and facilitate a quicker review process.

 

Review your management policies

Management can inadvertently create a climate where personnel are encouraged to manipulate test results. Mandates such as “zero deviations,” “no product failures,” and “meeting production targets” can encourage data manipulation. Throw in the possibility of a demotion or dismissal for failure to meet any of these mandates, and the environment is ripe for data manipulation.

The irony is that two losers are created: the patient who receives a sub-standard product, and the company that no longer knows its true capability or process trend—or worse, suffers reputational damage. This phenomenon is recognised by the Pharmaceutical Inspection Convention and Pharmaceutical Inspection Co-operation Scheme (PIC/S) data integrity guidance, warning that management should not institute metrics that cause changes in behaviour to the detriment of data integrity.

 

Learn more about the capabilities of OpenLab CDS

The newest release of OpenLab CDS software helps you strengthen data integrity while accelerating calculation and reporting processes. To cite just a few key features and capabilities:

The Custom Calculator tool: automatically computes unique values directly within the software, removing error-prone calculation steps and allowing you to meet compliance requirements faster and with less effort. Custom Calculator can also flag changes made after initial use of the calculation procedure — telling the reviewer that audit trails should be checked to assess the scientific merit of the change or changes. Download the Technical Overview

Automated reporting: with OpenLab CDS, analysts no longer have to enter data manually or print everything. If you analyse approximately 500 samples per month at 10 minutes per sample, including data review time, manual data entry takes about 1000 hours per year or about 25, 40-hour weeks—half of an analyst’s time. Using OpenLab CDS, reporting time can be reduced to 5 minutes per sample for time savings of 500 hours or 12.5 weeks per year.

Technical controls: within the audit trail give analysts the ability to highlight data changes and deletions to facilitate the review process, enable review by exception and create efficient search routines within an individual project or the whole database to identify data trends and inconsistencies. The application also documents that audit trail entries have been reviewed.

To learn more about OpenLab CDS for your lab and the preservation of your data integrity, learn more about the software on our Solutions page.

 

Enhancing Labs With Digitalisation

This article was originally published by Agilent

The topic of optimising laboratory efficiencies is at the forefront of discussions for many lab managers. With the support of new and improved smarter technologies, previous efficiency- and productivity-related challenges are beginning to dissipate as manual processes are starting to be replaced with automated and integrated applications, helping to pave the way towards a fully digitalised lab as part of the internet of things (IoT) movement.

According to the global advisory firm Gartner, a digitalised lab is one that is using digital technologies to change the way they operate their lab, optimise their business model, and ultimately provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities. In a nutshell, it is the process of moving to a digital business.

The results from a survey of pharma lab leaders support this observation. Responses highlighted the urgency to improve and update laboratory processes. Survey takers said that they:

  1. Wanted to achieve quicker results (55%)
  2. Saw a demand for superior quality (44%)
  3. Wanted to improve data integrity (43%)
  4. Found that their current workflow requires optimisation (83%)

Additional survey results showed that only 4% of lab managers are using utilisation data (a tool to understand how all instrumentation in labs is performing) for decision-making. More astonishingly, on average, some lab instruments were only being used 35% of the time.

 

Goodbye Laborious Systems, Hello Smart Technology

To combat some of the key challenges often faced with existing lab workflows, smart technology is increasingly at the core of change. By helping transform ordinary labs into smart technological labs, companies such as Chemetrix can provide better instrumentation and services to their customers without compromising the quality of results, cost-effectiveness, or laboratory space.

The lab of the future is a concept built on the foundation of digitalised labs. It encompasses smart technological workflow systems that are connected and capable of collecting vast amounts of data via integrated automation. At the Lab of the Future 2020 congress in Cambridge, UK, a keynote speaker at the event was quoted as saying “The lab of the future won’t be bound by walls,” suggesting that the digitalisation of labs will enable more fluidity and interconnectivity between assays and other procedures.

 

Transforming Science With Digitally Connected Labs

A digitalised lab should be considered a more advanced lab as it has more access to data. With data being key to transforming science, increasing amounts of data generated in any lab, let alone a digitally connected lab, could be a game-changer – but only if it’s collected and synthesized into information and knowledge that is useful.

The digital environment (i.e., paperless work in an electronic format) capitalizes on digitalisation. It incorporates all of the necessary instrumentation for complete data analysis, and enables the full value of the data for decision making.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is often defined as the ability of a machine to learn how to solve cognitive challenges. However, in the context of scientific methodology and laboratory interconnectivity, AI is starting to be used for capturing data to model human observation and decision-making processes. Taken forward, connecting all instruments in a lab via AI enables the opportunity for an even more astute understanding of the interactions between technology and also users, potentially providing an all-inclusive view of all laboratory operations.

By monitoring and identifying inefficiencies and making recommendations, AI goes beyond data interpretation to the level of suggestive intelligence, which could be used to more effectively manage lab operations, and ultimately accelerate research and discovery.

 

Ai Technology Will Augment Digitalisation Of The Lab

The ability to monitor operations and provide more sophisticated insights is a core reason for introducing AI into the operational lab environment. Accessing this powerful source of information will become a necessary component of scientific productivity. This is an inevitable next step in creating lab management systems that are so efficient and provide knowledge that is so valuable that only AI will be able to produce them.

AI, coupled with universal sensing capabilities to detect and monitor a range of variables, e.g., an instrument’s power draw, enables companies to realize certain operational and financial benefits to their business and plan for the future. Through high-quality and readily available insights, AI enables the simultaneous monitoring of all equipment usage in the lab and holistic capacity tracking.

 

Providing Digitalised Innovations To Address Customers’ Key Challenges

Chemetrix is proud to supply Agilent technologies and platforms that have pushed the boundaries in providing solutions that support the needs of its customers by enhancing the interconnectivity of its instrument products, services, and consumables through:

  • Integrated products and services that advance the digital lab
  • Faster, customer-preferred online interactions that improve the ease of doing business
  • Solutions that increase operational efficiencies

As an example, part of the Agilent CrossLab Group, the Digital Lab Program, is an ecosystem of products designed to complement one another by delivering enhanced digital capabilities to customer end-users, improving their laboratory experience. This initiative has brought certain technologies to life with industry-leading tools in data intelligence to enhance the scientific and economic outcomes of labs worldwide, such as:

  • Asset Monitoring – Agilent CrossLab Asset Monitoring combines advanced IoT sensor technology and data analytics to enable lab-wide visibility. It integrates sensor-based utilisation monitoring with business analytics, allowing you to capture lab-wide instrument utilisation data across all of your workflows, view analytics compiled in dashboards to drive insights for improvements and justify CapEx, OpEx, and productivity decisions using fact-based data.
  • Smart Alerts – Monitoring instrument health and providing email-based alerts, notifying lab operators when to consider replacing key consumables, when to perform preventive maintenance, and when an Agilent instrument stops running anywhere in the lab. Digital lab-wide connectivity lets users remotely monitor all of their Agilent instruments.
  • SLIMS – End-users can effectively track samples as they progress through the laboratory from sample receipt to automated result reporting. SLIMS combines the best of a laboratory information management system (LIMS) with an electronic laboratory notebook (ELN) to enable end-to-end solutions and manage the full content and context of your laboratory.
  • OpenLab Software/Cloud Storage – This has become a viable option for virtually every computing workload in the laboratory, from sample management to complex analytics to secure data storage.

 

Staying Competitive In A Competitive World

Globally, scientific innovation is accelerating, so labs need to consider the technology investments required to become digitally enabled in order to keep up and stay competitive. We live in a data-driven world, so scientific laboratories must fundamentally transform how they create, manage, and effectively use all the data that is generated in their lab ecosystem. Achieving and sustaining a competitive edge in a world of constant change will require the continual transformation of lab operations and scientific data management. This will be the first and most important step toward becoming a truly digitalised lab.

 

Nuclear Fusion: A Vision for Clean Energy

On 13 December 2022, the U.S. Secretary of Energy announced a major scientific breakthrough from a Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratory: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California has carried out the first nuclear fusion experiment to achieve a net energy gain in the context of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) project.

 

What is nuclear fusion?

Nuclear fusion is a reaction that powers our main source of light and energy: the sun, as well as other stars. In the reaction, two (or more) atomic nuclei – encompassing protons and neutrons – fuse to form larger nuclei while releasing energy. This energy release occurs because the total mass of the resulting nuclei is less than the mass of the original nuclei that were fused. The leftover mass becomes energy that can be used to run a turbine-electrical power generator.

 

Making a star on Earth to create energy

Research scientists are attempting to recreate nuclear fusion – the reaction in which stars of our universe are generated – on Earth because the reaction can create enormous amounts of energy.
For nuclear fusion to occur, stellar-like temperatures (i.e., 100 million+ degrees) must be achieved. This process forces the positively charged nuclei to form plasma within a contained vector, overcome their repulsion by moving independently at speeds of around 1,000 km/s, and fuse.

Theoretically, if the energy generated from lab-controlled nuclear fusion could be harnessed and effectively stored on a global scale, this technology could transform how we fuel our homes, businesses, and vehicle transportation. The reaction is so efficient that 1 kg of fusion fuel could provide the same amount of energy as 10 million kg of fossil fuel.

 

Urgent demand for clean energy

Since the 19th century, Earth’s temperature has increased by approximately 1.1 °C. The amount of carbon dioxide has risen by 50% because greenhouse gases have been released from fossil fuels burnt for energy.

Average temperature increases should not exceed 1.5 °C by the start of the 22nd century, scientists are warning. However, there is an urgent demand for clean energy implementation on a global scale, as a UN report from October 2022 predicts Earth’s temperature will rise by at least 2.4 °C by 2100.4

 

An emerging solution for clean energy

Research scientists in this field highlight the fact that nuclear fusion may be the solution for generating clean energy while mitigating the effects of global warming. The process does not rely on using energy sourced from fossil fuels and does not produce greenhouse gas pollutants or long-lived radioactive waste. Fusion reactor materials can also be recycled or re-used within 100 years.

In essence, nuclear fusion provides a vision toward clean and low-price energy that is within our grasp, and which one day may be able to support our daily lives, economies, and technological evolutions.

 

A milestone achievement at LLNL

On 5 December 2022, the LLNL team at its National Ignition Facility (NIF) conducted a nuclear fusion experiment that resulted in a milestone achievement to date: energy breakeven – meaning that the experiment produced more energy than required to initiate the process.
The breakthrough represents a historic moment; it comes at a much-needed time, as the world faces high and unstable energy prices and unprecedented effects of global warming due to continual, global fossil-fueled energy use.

NIF development and testing spans over 50 years, and the facility leads the international laser fusion scientific community where other experiments operate, such as the Japanese FIREX and SG-III in China.

 

Advancing the research field

Now that LLNL’s research team has successfully demonstrated net-energy gain from a nuclear fusion experiment, there are still some technical challenges to overcome, such as:

  1. Replicating the experiment – if the conditions of the reaction are not favourable, it halts
  2. Further optimisation of all reaction conditions while ensuring that all components are robust enough to withstand the extreme environment necessary for nuclear fusion to occur
  3. Yielding and extracting an even higher energy output from the nuclear fusion reaction

The next R&D phase at LLNL – as well as associated research labs – will most likely involve replication and method development to achieve higher energy gains, and make advancements toward longer-term commercial viability. When it comes to vacuum technology support, Agilent products and expertise will continue to play an important role in advancing this research field.

 

In the meantime, sustainable lab solutions

While work continues to produce clean energy, what we can do now is make better choices that are in line with sustainability goals. Partnered with My Green Lab, Agilent supports scientists in achieving their lab sustainability goals. Several Agilent instruments also carry My Green Lab certification.

The opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of labs through smarter purchases is tremendous. By procuring instruments and products that will reduce waste, reduce energy consumption, reduce solvent/consumable consumption, and last longer (reducing the need to buy and discard more instruments), laboratories can operate in a more environmentally sustainable way.

Speak to a consultant at Chemetrix to learn more about sustainable instruments with technology that can help your lab achieve its sustainability goals. View our products to learn more about technology that’ll save energy and other resources for a more efficient lab.

 

Chemetrix supports The Children’s Hospital Trust

According to Arrive Alive, 20 children are hospitalised due to trauma and bone injuries. In 2019, The Road Traffic Management Corporation also reported 45,000 children being hospitalised due to head, neck, and abdominal injuries. The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital treats many of these patients and Chemetrix is proud to support this organisation in its life-saving work.

On 23 September 2023, Chemetrix was able to make a donation to the Children’s Hospital Trust, with the support of our customers. These funds have been allocated to the Orthopaedic Unit Project at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. It will aid in the building of a new 30-bed Orthopaedic Unit to accommodate all ortho patients within one facility. The unit will give Orthopaedic patients a chance to regain their mobility and freedom of movement. Education and training for medical and para-medical services form part of these services.

The hospital remains the only specialised paediatric facility in the Western Cape, treating all little Orthopaedic patients. Through the new Orthopaedic Unit, patients will have access to the multidisciplinary team comprised of surgeons, physiotherapists, dieticians, and occupational therapists during one single visit – saving the parents both time and money.

Time was especially important for little Fayaad. He was hit by a motor vehicle while crossing the road with his father and it was a 13-minute drive from the scene of the accident to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. Within half an hour of arriving, Fayaad was examined. He was able to go home within the same day following X-rays and a cast being fitted on his injured leg. Orthopaedic clinics at the hospital will ensure he will regain optimal use of his leg as he continues to grow.

Above chronic and hereditary bone abnormality treatments, the hospital also cares for acute trauma injuries. The specialised services and multidisciplinary care are aimed at helping these little ones go on to live healthier and normalised lives. For now and in the future, Chemetrix hopes that its contribution to the Orthopaedic Unit will bring the joy of movement and smiles back to many children.