What does LIMS mean?
LIMS is just an acronym for a Laboratory Information Management System.
What does it do?
Put simply, a good LIMS manages all aspects of a laboratory business. It integrates client information, sample logging, batching samples optimally to aid workflows, integration with laboratory instrumentation, quality control, data management and reporting, invoicing, and provides tools to monitor and optimise business performance. It also serves as a comprehensive database that can be mined for information, so that both APAL, and you, our clients, can continue to build understanding and add value to test data.
Why are we talking about it?
In 2016, APAL made the decision that its existing system did not provide the necessary tools to facilitate year-on-year business growth, or the flexibility to develop the innovative products or services we are striving for. To best achieve those strategic goals, we decided it was necessary to develop a customised replacement LIMS.
Together with our contracted IT developers, we have been working away in the background for the last year on development of this system. We are very excited to announce that initial implementation of this system took place on 28th September. Because of the complexity of this whole of business management system, introduction will be staged, progressively introducing layers of functionality in the weeks and months ahead.
What does it mean for me?
Your agent portal and our LIMS are now one integrated system. Logging in to your agent portal essentially allows you to enter a cloud based version of the APAL LIMS, providing you with access to the tools you need to do business with us.
What changes can I expect to see?
- Sample submission and Your Portal
Some of you have been receiving and utilising our barcoded sample bags for some time. Every sample will be assigned a unique barcode in LIMS. If you retain old sample bags without barcodes they can still be utilised for traditional paper based submission, but not when submitting via your portal.
Contact Cathy Griff and our helpful admin team if you need some new sample bags or kits, by telephoning (08) 8332 0199 or email email@example.com.
If you submit samples via post or courier with hardcopy submission paperwork, there will be no changes to your submission process.
If you have project work, continue to request a quotation.
If you have not previously had a portal, you will receive an email with your login details and a quotation. You can login via your unique portal and accept or reject your quotation. You can continue to email an excel file to admin to facilitate creation of your submission. To be able to create your own online submission in your portal, you will need barcodes to assign to your samples. Contact our Admin team after accepting your quote if you require barcoded bags (soil or plant tissue), or simply a roll of barcode stickers.
If you have a portal, you can login and create a request for a quotation by indicating the numbers of soil or plant samples, and the test sets or individual soil tests you may require. APAL will confirm and send a quotation through to you.
We strongly encourage all clients to utilise their electronic portal. If you are an existing portal user, your password will be unchanged. If you have not previously had a portal, as your first sample submission is created in LIMS, you will automatically be created a portal, and receive an email advice with your login details.
If you are a farmer submitting directly to APAL, a portal may not be created for you. If you would like further information or assistance, once again contact the Admin team.
- Submit and Review Online
You can create sample submissions (soil or plant only at this time) either by direct entry into LIMS, or by uploading a populated excel spreadsheet through the menu option Submit and Review Online. A copy of a procedure to assist you in these processes can be forwarded on request.
If you are creating submissions with large numbers of samples, use of a barcode scanner makes the task very quick. Talk to us for recommendations on barcode scanners.
You will see some differences to our previous system that should allow greater flexibility to assign precisely the test sets and extras to your samples that you require, without having to make text entries. We like to think we have made your submission process almost seamless.
You will continue to receive an email notification when samples have been batched (which normally occurs within hours of receipt at APAL), which projects the anticipated date of reporting.
- Submission Forms and Test Reports
If you have Agent Organisation Manager status in our LIMS, you will have some additional permissions. Uploading your organisation logo file in your portal allows you to generate submission forms and receive test reports that also incorporate your logo. Options will also exist to customise colours utilised in report displays to match your organisation logo colours. We are striving to deliver to you a report product that is uniquely identifiable for your organisation.
There will be improvements in the appearance and graphing functionality of soil reports and special new features as the implementation progresses.
Plant tissue test reports should immediately reflect this new professional appearance, and significantly, the “Target” concentration will be replaced by the “Normal Range”, which we believe will better inform your decisions around nutrient adequacy.
Plant reports, data or graphed, become available when the submission status changes to Reports Available. They will continue to be emailed to you, but can be recalled at any time via the Submit and Review Online option. Once soil reports have been automated, this facility will also be available for soil reports.
This system will provide us with the tools to improve our processes, to deliver industry-leading products and services that will make it easier for you to do business with us, and in turn will assist you to improve and grow your businesses.