Journey towards a paperless lab: a true story

paperless lab

The true story of 20 years’ paperless experience is what Simon Brem, Head Laboratory Systems & Standards and CGAM LIMS Project Lead at Carbogen Amcis, has shared with the Paperless Lab Academy® 2022  audience during the 9th European edition last April.

Carbogen Amcis has been very ambitious in the domain of lab digitalization for many years. In fact, their analytical laboratories in Switzerland have been operating almost completely paperless since 2002.

In 2021, Simon joined Carbogen Amcis to accelerate the laboratory digitalization of the company. Additionally, Simon is working on leveraging the business experts’ team to implement new corporate standards.

At Carbogen Amcis, they are currently working on a global rollout of a new LIMS system across the different analytical labs in the sites. Simon´s experiences in operational and strategic leadership roles in the pharmaceutical industry provide hands-on knowledge on business process design and governance, ERP/LIMS, and paperless lab initiatives as well as organizational change management and business transformation.

During his presentation, Simon took us through the main achievements of the laboratories while running paperless as well as the learnings along the current journey for project success.

Above all messages, the one we would consider key for anyone considering becoming paperless is about how they really made it possible. Who, what and how the company managed to digitize their analytical labs processes successfully and maintain them over 20 years.

Paperless Lab: Key Elements for Longevity

Even if relatively new to the company, Simon has immediately identified the main enablers that have sustained the initiative along all these years.

From one hand, the business enablers, hugely important to the effective functioning of an organisation because they nurture an innovative mind-set throughout the organization. Technologically acute, they instigate opportunities and share a long-term vision with their leaders who provide passionate and continuous management support. They also define clear business values for their team and customers.

At Carbogen, laboratory personnel are provided remote access through Citrix environment to be work location independent and external customer can have access to CoA, reports, and raw data for their products.

On the other hand, the technology enablers, which facilitate qualified and validated environment in what concerns hardware, software and processes. Additionally, they ease the multiples systems integrations and make sure to provide enough tool units to the final users. At this point, it is important to note that in order to support adequately the development, maintenance and evolution of the systems, long-term partnership with providers and developers is key to consistent and sustainable core functionality.

Paperless Lab: Changes, challenges, and obstacles along the journey

It is easy to understand that a 20-year journey has faced some issues regarding longevity of the systems initially implemented like legacy hardware, software obsolescence reaching their end of life and lacking technical support including concerns about OS security levels.

But not only, along such journey, the company has evolved and reviewed their business model. Fact is that the initial LIMS, for instance, was built for early-phase and development when nowadays the portfolio has shifted towards commercials. The industry has also evolved being more concerned and focused on data integrity, setting new expectations and forcing to review documentation and standards. The business requirements have also evolved requesting more.

The Alice Program

The company-wide ALICE program has been designed to adapt to the changes and evolution. It aims to rejuvenate and harmonize business critical key application such as LIMS and ERP system. As such Carbogen Amcis LIMS requirements have been reviewed and defined for actual and future needs.

The image below, extracted from Simon´s presentation, groups the primary requirements for the new LIMS under four key areas.

Carbogen 20 years paperless

Copyright© 2022 Carbogen Amcis

Paperless Lab: Lessons learn from such a journey

While some companies are enterprising the digitalization of their laboratory processes, rather than sticking to their initial success, Simon´s team and corporate managements, have kept an open eye on the needs to adjust to actual reality. Their technical expertise come from a long history which they should be proud of, yet they foster creativity and challenge the status quo. In the process, their humility brings them to seek for support knowing the new road might surely requires new skills and knowledge. Without forgetting that the success comes only from and with people engagement. So right change management plan, open communication and fostering team culture is part of the plan at Carbogen Amcis, which with no doubt will bring them right to their next Paperless 2.0 journey.

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