What is a Digital Lab?
A digital lab is a laboratory that has digitalized virtually all of its operations including supply chains, lab systems, personnel, and instruments. The laboratory, therefore, becomes more automated and smart. The streamlined operations make the lab more efficient while lab data is managed by an information management system.
Laboratory Digitalisation Benefits
Compared to legacy laboratories, digital laboratories are smart and highly efficient. Firstly, repetitively-mundane tasks, such as sample preparations, are highly automated hence making these experiments highly reproducible and less error-prone. Secondly, instruments, personnel, and independent lab systems are connected to the Internet of Things. Therefore, protocols for experiments can be closely monitored in real-time ensuring compliance with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). More so, monitoring of consumables means they can be resupplied before they are depleted. Machines' data is also shared seamlessly across the network hence boosting collaboration efforts.
In such a laboratory, also codenamed Lab 4.0, end-to-end workflows require very minimal human input. Such workflows are, therefore, highly streamlined, refined, and precise. The experiments' documentation/reports can be automatically generated, from data, by the laboratory information system. Furthermore, the parameters for the instruments can be easily adjusted, either automatically or with human input, hence enabling higher levels of performance.
The biggest advantage of a digitalized laboratory is the significance played by the data that is generated from the automated operations. Advanced analytics, such as those of AI and machine learning algorithms, can reveal unforeseen insights in the big data and can subsequently enable the laboratory to further improve its operations and workflow, boost personnel’s decision-making process, reduce instruments' downtime, and boosts personnel’s safety.
Since virtually all aspects of the digital lab are automated and autonomously monitored, digital log events can be scrutinized during auditing to scrutinize lab compliance with laboratory protocols and standards. Monitoring of the digital lab operations can also be conducted remotely hence such labs can withstand disruptions of the human workforce. Digital laboratories also boost collaboration between labs across the globe due to the accessibility and shareability of standardized data.