Sustainability Through Lab Optimisation

The average lab consumes more energy per square meter than many hospitals or other commercial buildings—the US EPA estimates that a 30% reduction in lab energy use in the United States translates to removing 1.3 million cars from highways per year. Now, imagine what that would mean for labs around the world.

Scientific labs are experiencing an increasing demand for greater efficiency and productivity and, at the same time, a strong desire to maximise sustainability from the organisation-wide level to daily operations. Combining new data intelligence technologies and better industry insight guidance allows for advancing lab operational efficiency through better asset utilisation and increased sustainability in the digital lab era.


Lab managers want sustainability and optimisation

The central premise for discussing sustainability and optimisation together is that a more efficient lab is a more sustainable one. Most lab managers are mindful of both sustainability and optimisation needs. A global survey of lab managers highlighted a strong desire to meet sustainability goals and remain conscious of sustainability in their daily operations.

Key takeaways from the survey included:

  • 68% of labs surveyed acknowledged that they require further work to improve sustainability.
  • The most common sustainability expectations from instrument vendors are to reduce emissions and energy consumption. 68% of the respondents expected instrument vendors to help them reduce emissions, while 58% expected a reduction in energy.
  • Increased efficiency and optimisation are also factors, with the most critical concern being speed as demand for higher sample throughput increases dramatically. The importance that lab leaders place on improving speed, optimisation, and efficiency was also highlighted in a pharmaceutical lab leaders survey.
  • Of those surveyed, 83% believed their workflows needed optimisation, and 63% would welcome innovations to increase efficiency.


Advanced asset control, digital analytics, and expert guidance

The opportunity for lab optimisation improvement is profound. On average, lab instruments are running only 35% of the time, and only 4% of labs employ data intelligence to ascertain fleet utilisation.

James Connelly, chief executive officer of My Green Lab agrees, “Lab equipment makes up a significant portion of the total plug load in any lab and can lead to high energy consumption. Optimisation of lab equipment through solutions such as asset performance management can dramatically lower the overall energy consumption and be a significant step toward achieving lab sustainability.”

A holistic method of assuring lab-wide optimisation and efficiency is required to address this gap effectively. A combination of advanced asset control, digital analytics, and expert guidance allows greater visibility and utilisation of all lab assets. Maximising the availability and utilisation of all assets will reduce a lab’s carbon footprint and enable more science to be done. Increasing operational efficiency and productivity positively impacts lab sustainability. Reducing energy consumption through increased efficiency is a win-win, especially for the environment.

Data intelligence systems with real-time sensing technology and interconnectivity provide better visibility into lab operations and help drive decisions. Gaining clarity on asset utilisation enables more informed decision-making that advances lab operations to new levels of efficiency and productivity—while increasing sustainability at the same time. Measuring asset utilisation opens the door to appropriate fleet right-sizing and technology refresh, resulting in higher throughput, less power consumption, a smaller workflow footprint, and redeployment of under-used or redundant instruments.


Connected labs reduce waste and increase productivity

Labs that are connected benefit from multiple efficiencies that bolster sustainability. Technologies such as smart alerts foster a proactive approach to instrument monitoring. Rather than reacting to an instrument breakdown, an interconnected lab with smart alert software will prevent it from happening in the first place. Interconnectivity also enables the ability to make data-driven decisions.

Interconnective technology can also increase instrument utilisation because it calculates how much science any particular instrument performs per square meter. Sustainability isn’t limited to the traditional ‘green’ metrics of waste and water— it is equally achieved through technology.

For example, having visibility of all instruments at once to produce an overall lab footprint from which adjustments can be made to make the lab more effective and efficient. Or not having to waste time performing duplicate runs because the smart alert system fires when the first doesn’t go through.


Go greener with asset monitoring

The process of lab optimisation involves integrating utilisation data with instrument service histories and end-of-guaranteed support to measure the instrument’s health. Understanding instrument utilisation and health can determine the optimal footprint and workflow composition.

A central operations strategy provides lab managers with profound insight into asset composition and health and the means to make data-driven decisions and optimise lab operations. The subsequent improvement of lab-wide efficiency not only increases the productivity of the laboratory as a whole but also lab sustainability by doing more science with less energy and resources. A win for both science and the environment.


This article is modified from content originally published by Agilent