Interview conducted by Courtney Garner, MAMar 27 2020
In this interview, AZoM spoke to Robert Voelkner, VP of Sales and Marketing at LabVantage at Pittcon 2020 about the applications of LabVantage's laboratory information management systems (LIMS).
Could you give us an overview of LabVantage and the work you do?
LabVantage is a leader in providing laboratory information management systems, and electronic laboratory notebooks, to a very broad range of industries and laboratory types. And we've been doing this now for over 30 years. We have close to 1,500 customers that we deliver solutions to with our platform, LabVantage LIMS.
What industry areas does LabVantage serve?
We work with industries such as food and beverage, oil and gas, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and biobanks. We do a lot of work in the pharmaceutical industry and have actually built project accelerators. These are pre-packaged solutions that are geared towards specific laboratory industries and types. One of them is called LabVantage Pharma for the pharma industry. Providing such a pre-validated and a pre-configured solution for the pharmaceutical industry is unique to LabVantage, no other vendor has done that.
We cater to a number of types of laboratories from biorepository specimen management banks, to clinical and diagnostic labs, to general research and manfacturing laboratories, and we have a solution for all of them. We also have an oil and gas accelerator as well, for refining manufacturing and chemical manufacturing.
Please could you tell us about the new LabVantage 8.4 LIMS you are exhibiting at Pittcon 2020? What are the features and benefits?
Each year we try and come out with a new release that evolves and expands the capabilities of the product. We've added some new functionality to the platform, to be able to address certain customer needs based on their feedback. We also add new modules onto the system to be able to address key needs in the labs that are under-served. And one of those modules is something called the Work Assignment and Planning module, which is brand new for the 8.4 release.
Image Credit: LabVantage
What makes LabVantage's LIMS different to other platforms?
LabVantage's LIMS technology is unique. LabVantage is one of the only vendors that supplies and provides access to the system through a browser. So there is no client to install on your desktop, or your tablet or your workstation. As long as you have a browser, you have access to the system because it is fully browser based.
We fully support portable computing technologies. LabVantage has also fully embraced cloud technology as well for hosting of the system. Either through a perpetual license model or Software as a Service (SaaS) model, the servers can be in-house or operating via the cloud if necessary.
Image Credit: LabVantage
How does the new product help industries to comply with regulations?
Each of the industries we work with has a different regulation that they need to comply with. Over sixty percent of LabVantage's user base is regulated by a government agency. The most stringent regulations tend to be in the pharmaceutical, and food and beverage industry, due to a variety of food safety acts. The FDA and other agencies have been very proactive in publishing new standards for data integrity and compliance. LabVantage's LIMS has security controls, audit trails, version controlling and data integrity capabilities, to make sure that they are fully compliant.
Image Credit: LabVantage
LabVantage usually reacts to new guidance before it becomes regulation. We get a lot of feedback from our pharma and life science customers to let us know what they need ahead of time, in order to make sure they're compliant with new guidance, and we help them to deliver this. One example is ensuring data integrity. A guidance that came from the FDA made some new indications of compliance that were necessary for computer systems like ours. We enhanced our product to be able to adhere to those regulations when they came out. Some of the updates include auditing temporary memory. Temporary memory is entering results that haven't been committed to the database yet. We are able to manage and audit temporary memory in order to ensure we are compliant before information is even committed to the database.
In other market areas that LabVantage serves, such as the oil and gas industry, although they're not regulated to the same rigor as food and beverage, they still want to adhere to good laboratory practices. These capabilities are built into the system already, which allows them to do so.
What's next for LabVantage?
We meet the needs of our large and varied customer base every year. So one of our focuses is giving them the opportunity to voice their needs, concerns, or desires.
We are also going to be focusing on developing a new solution for scientific data management. All of the raw data that instruments are generating typically stays on the PC that generated them. Our new solution for scientific data management will collate that data into a database, protect the data and index it to make it accessible.
For the healthcare industry, we are also working on the LabVantage Medical Suite, which is a laboratory information system for patient testing labs within hospitals. This is a newer market for us, but we created a new patient-centric front end of our LIMS platform and we've already deployed to about 50 hospitals. We believe that the automation of patient testing can lead to faster, more accurate results, and lower operating costs.
Another potential future direction for us is in the area of analytics and artificial intelligence to enable informed decisions and predictive analytics.
About Robert Voelkner
Prior to joining LabVantage in 2009, Mr. Voelkner was Americas Sales Manager for the LIMS division of Applied Biosystems. Previously, he spent seven years in a number of sales leadership positions at Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Informatics and Services division. He started his career at Beckman Coulter, Inc. as a senior software developer working on LIMS and chromatography data systems, progressing to Director of Global Sales and Marketing of its Laboratory Automation Operations division.
He is a graduate of the University of Scranton with a bachelor’s degree in computer science.
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