Incorporating Machine-to-Machine Communication to achieve Lab 4.0

Quality management processes are known for implying a lot of time. In order to make the most of laboratory technicians' time and optimize their tasks, LIMS is the laboratory software that allows communication among devices and optimizes and enhances internal workflows.

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LIMS software's role for an upgraded communication between “machines” for a Lab 4.0 will be analyzed in this article. The case of [FP]-LIMS, the LIMS system solution developed by the German company Fink & Partner GmbH will be considered.

M2M stands for Machine-to-Machine and is the basis for the concept “Internet of Things” (IoT). Machine-to-Machine means data and information exchange between networked devices without any manual assistance or human interaction. It is crucial to clarify what M2M communication means explicitly and how it can be distinguished from the Internet of Things.

What is M2M Communication?

M2M communication is a part of the fundamental roots of the manufacturing industry. RFID, sensors, and autonomous computing software developed to support the network device to interpret data and make decisions are all vital components of M2M systems.

What Distinguishes M2M and IoT?

The fact that M2M systems are often isolated and independent network instruments is the fundamental difference between M2M and IoT. At the same time, IoT devices are IP-based and have the purpose of sending data that has been gathered from connected devices to digitalized platforms, middleware, or gateways.

Data that is gathered from M2M-devices is made to manage applications and influences the way in which companies operate. On the other hand, data from IoT-devices influences end-users and is created to improve business performance over multiple groups.

What is the Role of LIMS Software?

LIMS stands for “laboratory information management system” and concerns laboratory software designed to allow communication between measurement instruments in the lab environment for high-tech workflows.

The examples below will be analyzed to demonstrate how [FP]-LIMS enables M2M communication explicitly, which in this case is called “bidirectional communication”. A lab technician performs optical emission spectrometry analysis and imports measurement data from his OES spectrometer.

Yet, the lab technician has different test orders and samples from other measurement techniques, for example, XRF and hardness tests. The lab technician needs to import the data from those analyses in order to have a global overview of the different test orders.

Next, the results from the devices for OES and XRF analyses and hardness tests are to be considered. Firstly, the lab technician collects all of the data from the measurement instruments, and thanks to [FP]-LIMS he can separate and send the pieces back to the devices and automize the analyses. Secondly, the collected data are stored into [FP]-LIMS, which communicates with the ERP system a disposal decision according to pre-configured rules.

However, you can access the stored data through [FP]-LIMS anytime it is required. So, [FP]-LIMS can also be considered as the bridge to upper-level systems for data integrity.

The upcoming standard of robotics is a further example of defining M2M communication. For example, OES automated robots are de facto a vital piece of the automatization-chain. OES robots substitute people and can supply the measurement device with the samples every day, all day long with no break.

This all belongs to the concept of bidirectional communication: import, analyze, store, merge, etc. data from different measurement techniques, instruments, and manufacturers and make them interact with each other without human physical interaction.

To summarize, it has been demonstrated that [FP]-LIMS is the key to communication between machines (M2M) as it can gather measurement data from the most various lab devices and can make them interact with each other automatically, without any human interaction.

This information has been sourced, reviewed, and adapted from materials provided by Fink & Partner GmbH.

For more information on this source, please visit Fink & Partner GmbH.

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