Seamless integration and interoperability for effective Lab Automation: Latest on SiLA


Paperless Lab Academy® recently sat with Daniel Juchli, CTO of Wega Informatiks and discussed the relevance of the recent SiLA2 release for the Lab Informatics users.

Lab Automation - Which problems do you see laboratories facing every day?

Currently, laboratories struggle with a lack of integration and communication between different systems like LIMS systems, balances instruments, etc.  Also, data handling for strategic utilization can be a time-consuming manual task.

Let´s imagine that  you have a LIMS and would like to send samples to a chromatography data system or that you have a high-throughput platform from which you´d like to instruct your liquid handler or that you have an ELN and would rather prefer to have it  connected to your  balances, then you should be able to use the same communication technology in any of those situations

Which are the objectives of the SiLA initiative in lab automation?

SiLA’s mission is to establish international standards that create open connectivity in lab automation. SiLA’s vision is to create interoperability, flexibility and resource optimization for laboratory instrument integration and software services. It is based on standardized communication protocols and content specifications.

Which is the solution that SiLA2 propose to the laboratories for their lab automation processes 

SiLA started in the high-throughput automation world with numerous monolithic systems and many different devices to integrate into a master workflow.  SiLA has now made the transformation to become much broader, covering typical instrument integration scenarios that you see in the analytical lab and in the process lab.

The updated version SiLA2 has been developed using open communication protocols that are well established and defines a thin domain-specific layer on top of these. It´s based on common concepts, vocabulary and taxonomy to ease accessibility. In short, SiLA2 promotes open standards to allow flexible and rapid system integration and exchange of intelligent systems, in a cost-effective way.

 How does SiLA support the data workflow?

The main advantage is how SiLA enables the integration with so many different devices into the same master workflow. It’s not only about interoperability between instruments but it’s also about services whether at instrument, LIMS or ELN level.  SiLA enables these systems to interact with each other, finding and discovering their capabilities and basically finding out how communication can take place. It’s kind of a common language!

So, what´s new with SiLA2 in the lab automation environment?

SiLA2 is becoming more and more focused on standard protocols or platforms to make it accessible and easy to use and implement.

What makes SiLA really unique about its capabilities & features is the ability to building a bridge between IT, technical profile and the life science world. It is like a glue or similar that translates between the two worlds.

If you´re in a regulated environment and need to interface instruments with a LIMS, you´ll have to document complex functional specifications to describe those interfaces in order to validate them afterward. The feature definition language that provides you SiLA is a standardized way facilitating technical specifications for the implementation and functional specification for validating those interfaces. Additionally, this is not specific to a given interface so the feature definitions can easily be reused.

 

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Daniel Juchli, Chief Technical Officer (CTO) at SiLA Consortium and Head of Lab & Research IT at wega Informatik AG, Switzerland.
Daniel’s background is based on a double qualification, as a chemist and IT professional. In both disciplines he brings in more than 20 years of professional experience. Daniel speaks the language of both scientists and IT professionals and thus translates between project team members. His life science knowledge enables him to bridge the gap between user needs and the technical capabilities of IT systems.
Daniel is an expert in leading laboratory automation and IT solutions in the life sciences environment, such as R & D laboratories or regulated QC laboratories.
Daniel joined SiLA in 2014 as a representative of SiLA’s supporting member wega Informatik. He has since been significantly involved in the development of SiLA 2.