If there was a time when the world got to see just how much scientific research can change the odds in our favor, it was during the COVID-19 pandemic.
True, it’s not over yet, but due to thorough research and dedicated scientists, we now have several vaccines and even some promising treatments to help us get to the other side.
Yet, none of this would’ve been possible without well-equipped laboratories that allowed scientists to do their work and provided them with the right tools.
Plus, due to the development of new technologies and smart devices, scientists can now rely more on their equipment and get faster, more accurate results.
To keep up with the competition and to speed up the innovation pace, the big names of the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries invest heavily in their laboratories.
Also, there is a strong orientation towards creating smart laboratories that will use IoT devices to shorten the time that’s usually wasted with inefficient communication between departments or even laboratories.
Yet, investors and developers must keep in mind that a laboratory is not just about the equipment. In order to create a truly smart laboratory, you have to create a comfortable environment for the people using it.
Also, in order to improve efficiency, a smart lab has to solve the current problems that hinder progress.
Issues That Need to Be Addressed
While each laboratory is unique, there are a couple of issues that tend to cause problems and hinder the flow of work.
#1: Human Error
Human error is a huge factor of concern because it can cause all sorts of mishaps and even influence results.
The human brain is not wired to be hyper-focused on details, which is why even the most disciplined of scientists is prone to mistakes. This is normal, but scientific research needs accurate and non-corrupt data to deliver high-quality results.
Luckily, this problem can be solved using an electronic lab notebook like Colabra system that keeps track of everyone’s tasks and encourages collaboration between peers. It’s also great for planning various experiments and projects, documentation, and even inventory management.
#2: Lack of Automation
It may seem hard to believe, but even the most high-tech labs can be lacking in automation (at the moment, at least). Luckily, due to the development of IoT devices, it will be easier to have pipettes working with centrifuges without needing the intervention of a lab technician.
Of course, a smart laboratory can also benefit from software automation, with background processes that take over routine tasks. Also, a software tool is a lot more accurate when analyzing data or checking for pattern disruptions.
#3: Data Loss or Sample Corruption
In today’s day and age, when Big Data is a thing, it’s easy to get lost in a mountain of data. What’s worse, entire research projects can fail because the data was not properly cleaned or sorted.
The problem with sample corruption or data loss is just as bad for business research and other areas, so it’s not specific to laboratories. However, when you are on an extremely tight deadline and the lives of millions of people depend on your results, this can be a major hindrance.
To avoid such a thing, it helps to have various backup systems. Also, scientists should work with automation tools that analyze and sort out data without losing track of even a single bit of information.
Overall, the development of proper smart laboratories is predicted to reduce time spent on a project and bring down costs. Of course, there’s the initial investment (which can be quite steep), but the return on investment is definitely worth it!