Selecting the best LIMS software
The choice of a LIMS software solution is a critical element of a laboratory automation strategy. The Laboratory Information Management System is the foundation of everything else. Through our LIMS services, we help laboratories evaluate their needs, compare LIMS options, deploy the LIMS they have selected, and support their team in their daily use of this critical system. GenoFAB clients can also choose to use the eLabJournal LIMS hosted on the GenoFAB private cloud to obtain cost savings on the offering.
Your lab deserves a LIMS system that empowers your research – not one that hampers it. Get in touch with us today for expert guidance in the selection of the best LIMS software solution for your lab.
Choosing a laboratory information management system (LIMS) is a critical and difficult decision for a research team. That’s because LIMS are hard to properly evaluate before they’re used in the lab setting; only after they’ve been implemented can their efficacy be confirmed fully. And today, more than ever, there are many options to choose from. Committing to the wrong one can be an expensive mistake that will get in the way of research instead of enabling it.
Some of these systems include both a LIMS and Electronic Laboratory Notebook module. Here we are only looking at their LIMS features such as sample tracking, sample labelling, and inventory management. Our survey does not cover specialized LIMS. In particular, we’ll focus on LIMS for research and exclude LIMS designed to handle clinical data.
With these factors in mind, it’s important to do your LIMS research before you trust a LIMS to manage your research. Here are 11 of 2019’s leading LIMS software to consider as you make your decision:
eLABInventory is a product developed by Bio-ITech BV, a software company from the Netherlands. Bio-ITech has been part of Eppendorf since 2017. eLABInventory is part of eLABJournal, an integrated system that includes both a LIMS and an Electronic Laboratory Notebook system.
The software has a browser-based interface making its deployment easier because it does not require any software installation on the client computer. The company provides different hosting solutions; the public cloud solution is the most affordable. It is suitable for small academic labs and startups with limited needs. The Private Cloud option is best suited for more advanced users, larger groups, and other organizations that need to host larger amounts of data or need to customize their installation. Finally, an on-premise installation option is available to larger organizations seeking to integrate the software in their enterprise system.
GenoFAB is able to host its clients’ data on its private cloud installation of eLABJournal.
CoreLIMS is a product of Core Informatics, a division of ThermoFisher since 2017. Of course, everyone in our industry is a client of ThermoFisher Scientific, a supplier of scientific products and services; the company is big, with revenues of more than $24 billion and approximately 70,000 employees globally. Accordingly, it’s no surprise that they’re a major player in the laboratory information management space.
Over the years they had developed their own portfolio of LIMS solutions tailored to different industries and use cases, such as Watson and SampleManager. This multiplicity of products in the same space is somewhat confusing – it seems that the legacy LIMS products will progressively be retired to be replaced with products from the Core Informatics division.
In any case, CoreLIMS has a long list of features that includes inventory and storage management, project management, electronic document management, laboratory automation and integration, and more.
It also has a modern architecture that fully takes advantage of scalable cloud technologies. It relies on an underlying software layer called Platform for Science that supports several complementary products. One of the benefits of this architecture is that it’s possible to allow third party developers to develop specialized applications that complement the LIMS core functionality. To our knowledge, Core Informatics is the only LIMS provider that has succeeded at developing a vibrant app marketplace.
While Core Informatics does not publicize its prices, our research indicates that this system is probably better suited for larger research organizations that need Enterprise-grade capabilities.
LabCollector is software developed by AgileBio, a French software company. When it was released in 2002, LabCollector was probably the first LIMS to offer both a browser-based interface and a price accessible to small organizations.
One of the strengths of the company has been their excellent support of sample tracking and labelling technology. Anyone interested in deploying a barcoding solution can learn a lot from AgileBio, who maintains a sister website dedicated to biobanking accessories.
The primary deployment option for LabCollector is the onsite installation. The company provides installers for various platforms that facilitate deployment. They are also offering private cloud solutions that may be attractive to end-users with limited IT resources. The company has been talking about a public cloud service for several years now, but that service has never been released.
Over the last 10 years, the application’s overall design started showing its age. The vendor released a number of plugins and addons with sometimes overlapping features that, at times, created confusion, and the software’s configuration options were often too limiting. The pricing structure has become increasingly obscure, making it difficult to budget the LIMS expenses. Finally, the technical support often proves substandard for a mission-critical software.
BioVIA, the life science subsidiary of Dassault Systems, provides a LIMS solution that is composed of different modules corresponding to sample management, inventory management, and instrument management.
BioVIA LIMS claims to be execution-centric rather than sample-centric. This solution appears to better geared toward the biomanufacturing industry rather than preclinical research.
STARLIMS (a product of Abbott Informatics), on the other hand, bills itself as a comprehensive LIMS solution replete with complete lifecycle management.
STARLIMS promises to do it all, “from sample intake to delivery of accurate results, [to] driving smarter decision making for your business and customers throughout the entire process.” They also offer logistics management – product inventory, storage capacity, and more.
Finally, STARLIMS is built to be highly-configurable and integrable, offering potential for automated data management and logistics in tandem with other lab systems.
The bottom line: this is a robust, high-end solution that can be tailored to a variety of needs. In order to capitalize on its full value, configuration is needed.
LabVantage is another comprehensive software offering. They claim the mantle of “the most modern LIMS platform available,” which, while admittedly a little vague, is backed up with tight integration between their electronic lab notebook (ELN) offering, their lab execution system (LES), and the LIMS solution.
The offering is specifically geared toward making the work of lab managers easier, with features including work assignment and research planning functionality.
The solution also includes automated issue tracking, bulk data upload, and data management capabilities.
The bottom line: this is a cutting-edge solution for labs where workflow management and resource tracking are critical.
Examplar Research LIMS is a product of Sapio Sciences. The company provides different flavors of this product for various industries, such as research, sequencing, histopathology. Little information is available on the vendor website regarding the product architecture, deployment options, and features.
Quartzy is a completely free solution to handle a very specific aspect of laboratory management: the procurement of supplies. This system does not include many of the other features (like sample tracking) that commonly define LIMS software.
That said, Quartzy is a startup that’s growing fast (and they already claim to be the #1 choice for labs around the world). Backed by high-profile funds like SV Angel and Y Combinator, this solution packs some power and may see extended feature sets soon.
As opposed to providing a SaaS offering, Quartzy encourages purchases from inside its platform and collects money only via those transactions. In other words, to sign-up and get started, it’s free.
The software also promises to handle lab operations and communications, although so far its capabilities there are somewhat limited.
The bottom line: this is an intriguing choice for labs slowed down by supply purchasing difficulties.
Open source options
There are a few open sources LIMS option worth considering for research groups that have the IT resources necessary to deploy these systems:
- BikaLIMS: This open source project led by a team out of South Africa has been active since 2002. This platform can be customized for different industries. Our research indicates that it may be suited for production labs rather than for research labs.
- Aquarium LIMS : This LIMS is under active development by the Klavins lab at the University of Washington. It’s a process-centric software that has been successfully deployed by a number a synthetic biology labs.
- LeafLIMS is another process-centric LIMS designed with synthetic