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 (LIMS) is the foundation of everything else. The development of our Laboratory Automation Platform has roots in our experience using various LIMS solutions. It includes modules that are commonly found in laboratory information management systems.
All the software packages listed below include laboratory management features such as sample tracking. That’s what these systems are all about. Most of them also include tools to help lab managers and laboratory personnel streamline relations with vendors of reagents and supplies.
Over the last decade, there has been a convergence between LIMS applications and Electronic Laboratory Notebooks. LIMS vendors have added ELN features to their laboratory information management product while ELN vendors have made it easier to add links to LIMS records lab notebook entries.
It is a common misconception that lab information management LIMS systems are data management solutions. It may be more accurate to see them as one component of a data management system. They serve a very specific purpose but they need to communicate with other data services to maximize the value of the data they keep.
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.
Once an organization has adopted a LIMS, it can be very difficult to transition to a new LIMS system despite the shortcomings of the current system. We recommend a progressive deployment rather than converting the whole company at once. In our experience, a project-based deployment allows the team to assess a system in realistic conditions. It minimizes risk and maximizes the return on investment.
There is no a single best LIMS software package. Each team has to evaluate what laboratory management system is best suited to meet its needs. Special aspects of lab operation like animal colony management are best handled by specialized applications. Here is a list of options worth considering.
Commercial LIMS Systems
- eLABInventory is a product developed by Bio-ITech BV. eLABInventory has a web-based interface. It 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.
- CoreLIMS is a product of Core Informatics, a division of ThermoFisher since 2017. It has a modern architecture that takes advantage of scalable cloud technologies. They 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.
- 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.
- 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, bills itself as a comprehensive LIMS solution replete with complete lifecycle management. It 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Simple LIMS Software: A very inexpensive LIMS product for Windows users. This desktop application runs on an Access database.
- Autoscribe Informatics Matrix Gemini is a LIMS. that helps laboratories manage large volumes of data to strict standards, while at the same time improving efficiencies, automation and turnaround times. One of the main features of Autoscribe’s LIMS software is a set of configuration tools designed to efficiently create optimized, yet highly adaptable, workflows.
- LabWare has been one of the LIMS market pioneers. Today they provide both a desktop and cloud version of their LIMS.
Free LIMS Solutions
There are a few open sources and free LIMS options worth considering for research groups on a budget. Research groups with solid IT supports may find open source LIMS solutions particularly attractive.
- 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 biology in mind.
- Quartzy is a completely free solution to handle a very specific aspect of laboratory management: the procurement of supplies. It does not include other LIMS features like sample management.