Labs are turning to paperless tools as solutions to issues such as traceability, security, research, and elaboration of results. Hand-written notes are going virtual as laboratories focusing on research, analytical development, and analyses turn to Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELN) to safeguard digital continuity throughout the life cycles of projects and analyses.
How an Electronic Lab Notebook Works
The idea behind a lab notebook is relatively simple: Researchers, engineers, and technicians use it to record the details of their daily work. Traceability through ELNs makes finding prior research notes easier—a real boon when faced with proving priority when filing patents, for instance. Although written lab notebooks are still being used today, they present intrinsic disadvantages. Trying to find a precise analysis performed for a certain study completed several years back can quickly turn into a long, tedious process. Working in teams or handing over studies pose other drawbacks when using paper.
ELNs are not only an effective solution to these inconveniences, they offer a wide range of advantages that increase productivity for labs and free up more time for scientists to concentrate on more valuable activities. Overall, ELNs maximize the use of technical assets in laboratories.
By Incorporating ELNs, Labs Can Reap the Benefits of Their Undertakings in a Structured Manner
Foremost, labs can make the most of ELNs by structuring the organization’s activities in one database that can be accessed by anyone with user rights. This is a great way to leverage all the advantages computers offer by incorporating advanced research tools and exploiting work that has already been carried out. ELNs also ensure data integrity through advanced traceability tools, which automatically log actions that have been performed and the results that have been obtained. Moreover, the research validation processes for milestones can be adapted.
ELNs Are Also Powerful Data Entry Tools
A few excellent advantages when using ELNs include the powerful autocomplete function for results, which helps limit errors, and the ability to receive data automatically from measuring instruments. Technicians can easily set up their ELNs on tablets at their lab benches, adding a practical side to the tool. In addition to potent management of processes and results, ELNs can also store any other useful data needed for research or other applications.
Users are free to add any information, comments, observations, or conclusions they deem important about the items in the database, such as samples, products, and raw materials. When it comes to products, they can optimize recipes through assistance with formulas, diagram their work using molecular design, or even manage stock with automatic alerts when a remaining quantity exceeds the safety threshold. All the information in the database can be retrieved as an automatically generated report using independent and upgradeable templates that help eliminate double entries.
All Lab Activities Can Go Digital Using ELNs
The best news about ELNs is that everything the lab does can go paperless. Fully integrated Gantt-type modules allow control of resource scheduling. Detailed monitoring gives managers a quick, clear idea of what staff are working and how much time they are spending on tasks, a skills matrix provides a list of current authorizations, and a global view determines machine readiness by showing maintenance schedules for measuring devices or their metrological validation. Even more, integration of how much time staff spends on projects or research—and all the subsequent automatic reporting. Indicators can finally be generated for defined periods so that data can be fully optimized. To top it all off, using the basic functions and all of the side management features, labs can thoroughly guarantee compliance with standards, show proof of this compliance, and comfortably meet the requirements of audit trails.
The TEEXMA® ELN tool gives technicians the power to detail all of the steps in their experiments—from initial ideas to conclusions.
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