Interfacing LIMS to Other Commercially Available Software Packages

By Robert Benz, Sales & Marketing Director, Khemia Software Inc.

A LIMS by its name is a laboratory information management system. LIMS over the years have increased in their breadth of coverage, however, at no point is a LIMS a full accounting package or geographic information system (GIS) nor does a true LIMS replace a customized enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. A LIMS though may be very effectively interfaced with other software platforms to provide a business entity the full breadth of information and ability it requires.

We often get asked, particularly from clients who run an internal support laboratory, about additional functionality that goes far outside of the LIMS. As opposed to expanding and customizing the LIMS to areas outside of the laboratory, we discuss the ability to adjoin the LIMS with existing applications already on hand. We often explain that while we may not be the best at accounting, their existing accounting software already in place is ideal; we instead demonstrate how to push the needed data into their accounting package as needed. In internal laboratories in a production environment, often conversations on how their fully customized SAP system ( need not be messed with come into play, but how to simply push the needed data to the LIMS and how to extract the needed data out takes center stage.

Similar examples can be seen within engineering companies that have a laboratory attached. As opposed to recreating a wheel, we commonly work with outside software packages for the field data and graphical reporting like ( from which we pull/push data to/from as it flows through the laboratory. This approach best allows each platform to do what is designed to do best.

In the end, a good LIMS is written by programmers and chemists/biologists who understand specific laboratory environments, similar to the way programmers and accountants work on accounting software, programmers and geographers work on GIS, etc. There is no substitute to having professionals within the industry write a specific software platform in conjunction with good programmers for that industry. With that in mind, there is no better way of handling operations than adjoining the programs to let each take care of what it does best.

For more information contact:
Robert Benz,, 843-810-2075

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Benefits of a LIMS implementer’s firsthand laboratory knowledge

By Robert Benz, Sales & Marketing Director, Khemia Software Inc.

No LIMS, no matter how great it may be, is one hundred percent beneficial without proper implementation and training. Modern day LIMS are too complex with too many functions to truly just figure out on your own. However, many times, a LIMS implementation has failed simply because the implementer understood the computer system but fail to comprehend the laboratory itself or vice versa.

For LIMS companies, one of the hardest positions to fill is that of a good implementer. It is no easy task. For starters, a good implementer must have a full understanding of the LIMS and its functionality. The trick is in finding a person who has done this for a while, yet at the same time, fully understanding the laboratory’s needs. To pretend a programmer knows chemistry methodology would be the same as pretending that a chemist is the best programmer; very rarely the case. And, to truly understand a laboratory from start to finish, one must spend some number of years working within laboratory environment. There is no substitute and no book that you can read to replace firsthand laboratory experience. I myself spent years in the laboratory and can vouch for this. The laboratory staff always quickly learns if the implementer has had true laboratory experience or not.

Implementation and training are the key steps to successfully using the right LIMS once selected. Having an implementer who has sincerely been in your shoes with a new LIMS, who understands the analytical methods you are running, who understands the quality control and validation methods you are using and who has been through the audits which you will be undergoing is something you cannot replace. At Khemia Software, we have been especially lucky. Our lead implementer of over nine years now had over 14 years’ experience in the laboratory ranging from a bench chemist to running GCMS to QA/QC to being in charge of audits and accreditations. As is the case in many areas of life, there truly is no better background than true experience.

For more information contact:
Robert Benz,, 843-810-2075

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A Configurable, Off-the-Shelf LIMS in a University Setting

Universities offer many professional companies a wonderful developmental ground on which to not only sale and teach, but to build and rethink. This can be particularly true while working with a LIMS in the university laboratory setting.

Within many sectors of the market, a configurable, off-the-shelf (COTS) LIMS has become the standard selection by many laboratories; particularly environmental based laboratories, whether municipal, state or commercial. Today, configurability of COTS LIMS far surpasses those of even five years ago, allowing any laboratory to put is “own” stamp on the use and structure. However, many questions can arise when it comes to dealing with smaller scale laboratories at universities or non-profits associated with university research. A list of common questions and problems are found below:

“I have a limited budget.”
“I need a research based LIMS. A COTS will not work.”
“I need to have ELNs.”
“My research assistants are always changing. How can I deal with this?”
“I work with various groups in several different laboratories within one/several universities.”
“I need what you offer, but just a bit different!”

“I have a limited budget.” First, any professional LIMS company understands that with the rare exception of a large, specific grant, they will have to work with the university on pricing, payment schedule, and often dealing with RFPs. The public sector dealings with universities are not unlike any other public sector dealings.

“I need a research based LIMS. A COTS will not work.” The question of whether a COTS LIMS will fit depends completely on the university laboratory and application. In some cases, a true, research-based LIMS is the only LIMS that meets specific needs. Quite often though, a COTS LIMS, given the many options available within the LIMS, works perfectly. While evaluating LIMS, look carefully at the options available in a COTS LIMS before dismissing them. In terms of pricing, they can be vastly less expensive. Often times during a demo, our technical support personnel can give an easy workaround to a problem that was thought to be a showstopper. Asking questions is vital.

“I need to have ELNs.” Mention of electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs) come up time and time again. In the end, the laboratory needs to decide what functionality it truly wants in an ELN. More often than not, a simple Excel sheet and notepad are all that are desired. In many cases, including Khemia’s, almost any ELN capable of running Microsoft office is capable of running the front end of the LIMS.

“My research assistants are always changing. How can I deal with this?” Staff turnover, especially in the case of a university, can be tough. In many university laboratories, a student may work for only a semester or only in Fall and Summer semesters, but not for Spring, etc. To address this, one must figure out which type of LIMS user is necessary. There are a number of ways LIMS are sold in regards to users, however, two are most common. One is named users, where each user is specifically named and takes up a license. The second method is concurrent users, where a laboratory is given a set number of licenses that may be logged on at once. This, for example, can allow a laboratory to give 25 people permission to access the LIMS, with only five users logged on at a time. The choice of user method comes down to a matter of price and practicality.

“I work with various groups in several different laboratories within one/several universities.” Multiple sites accessing one LIMS instance is something LIMS companies have become well versed in. There are essentially three options: 1) all sites use the same LIMS database, 2) one LIMS instance with multiple laboratory IDs, or 3) multiple installations of the LIMS. This is something best discussed with a specific LIMS vendor to fully understand their offerings and price structure, as well as discussed carefully with the university IT department. What an IT department will allow often plays a trump card in what can be done.

“I need what you offer, but just a bit different!” This is one of the reasons I most enjoy working with universities, they offer many great ideas; both upfront and as time goes on. At Khemia, our LIMS is constantly becoming more well-rounded based on feedback from universities and the non-profits working with them. Within the commercial or municipal market, we know and understand the request for modification, as we have worked with many laboratories in the same sector. However, university request often fall outside of the already known. Just be aware that when purchasing a COTS LIMS, request for new features, if agreed upon, often take some time. Make sure the base product fits and then see if changes can be made to make it fit better.

At least 50% of the time, from my experience, a COTS LIMS can fit into a university setting. Upon occasion, a concession has to be made or a workaround used, but this is often well worth the price difference compared to a truly customized LIMS solution. Plus, a COTS LIMS is generally a well vetted product with those attached in technical support very well versed in laboratory practices. Upon occasion, making a methodology fit the LIMS make the methodology better and more defensible.

Khemia Software is happy to work with any university to see if our LIMS can fit your laboratory. Any questions or comments may be addressed to Robert Benz (, Director of Sales & Marketing at Khemia Software (

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