Digital automation in the food production industry leads to smoother workflows, stronger compliance, and improvements in data accuracy across the board. Preventing contamination and ensuring a hygienic work environment can be made easier when these tools are designed specifically for close monitoring at every stage of the production process – from receipt of raw ingredients, through production to packaging and distribution.
Thermo Scientific SampleManager LIMS software is a cutting-edge solution, created to streamline and harmonise high-quality processing and laboratory testing. From a technical standpoint, this software provides current information and updates, communicating between sites to flag potential issues as soon as they arise.
“What we’ve got now is online production updates that aren’t just local. When I first started in this industry, if there was ever an issue like a contaminated batch, you couldn’t see what was happening between sites until you got an email or a phone call,” says Jeff Collins, Product Expert at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “By that time, it was too late. Whereas nowadays, SampleManager LIMS raises immediate warnings for all stakeholders.”
Traceability is a major priority for any food production or testing site, as contamination can move quickly and often lead to crisis when left unchecked. LIMS can be configured to flag and trace any potential issues immediately, making it easier to pinpoint food safety concerns and quickly recall affected product.
“So if there is an issue on site, you know about it pretty much straight away and you can trace it back through the entire system to find out where the fault is. You can then find out what else has been made with that material and take it from there.”
SampleManager LIMS is designed for a range of testing and production environments, with a focus on accessibility and straightforward operation. As Jeff explains, it’s important for the software to be user intuitive.
“One of the main design aspects of SampleManager LIMS is visibility. When all of these results are firing off in the live system, you can see it all graphically and it is colour coded. You can see a map of your laboratory with all the control points as dots. If the dot is green, that is good, if it is red that means something needs attention.” This enables a clear, actionable review by exception approach.
SampleManager LIMS sets itself apart in the data management space by ensuring that industry-specific needs are met in the software design. Where similar solutions will require significant implementation time to set-up and customise, SampleManager LIMS incorporates a food and beverage testing solution, which is a set of pre-configured features and capabilities created specifically for food and beverage testing laboratories. Implementation time is significantly reduced, enabling the laboratory to see value from their investment sooner.
Efficiency also proves to be a key benefit when it comes to mitigating risk based on data. By automating these processes, staff are able to focus on production and output, allowing the software to monitor critical information reliably. Advanced control over instrument calibration and maintenance enables time-saving processes for set-up and communications.
“SampleManager software can send an e-mail notification and receive results directly from the instrument when a run has finished. This obviously increases efficiency, but it also minimises things like transcription errors. It can record the process data which can then be saved or used to generate certificates of analysis. So you’ve got complete information and traceability.”
LIMS has the capability to reduce costs by automating manual procedures, while also ensuring more accurate results. The software is particularly helpful for setting up standardised workflows. For example, once a sample is locked, it can be allocated to necessary tests immediately. Those results can then be sent directly to the instrument before it receives the physical sample. Any of these results can also be automatically used to generate certificates, which can then be delivered to stakeholders or kept on file.
For the food and beverage industry, meeting regulatory standards such as ISO and HACCP is a primary concern. Analysing hazards, being able to action a response through LIMS and logging the data can significantly aid in streamlining compliance. SampleManager software can easily enable assessment of critical control points, down to the most basic level of material safety. Using sample points like CCP and filtering by different limits, it’s easy to get an overview of the situation at a glance.
Thermo Fisher continues to develop technology to integrate SampleManager software into the food quality testing workflow in innovative ways. Alongside this, enabling customers to attract and retain scientific talent is a major priority, says Nicola Gardner, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Thermo Fisher Scientific.
“We want to remove manual processes so that scientists aren’t bogged down by the day-to-day running of the laboratory. Our software is looking to allow more time for value-add tasks, rather than leave scientists lingering on paperwork and documentation.”
A recent development in accessing the LIMS boasts extended reality connectivity, allowing scientists to interact with SampleManager software hands-free via a Microsoft HoloLens headset. By introducing exciting advancements in laboratory operations, Thermo Fisher is actively working towards enabling foot testing labs of the future.