A close connection: integrating GLIMS 9 in its innovative, multi-floor robotic track system, Ketterthill improved productivity and speed, supporting opportunities for growth
To integrate GLIMS LIS with a new intelligent track system using CAR’s.
By eliminating middleware between GLIMS and its new track system, Ketterthill Laboratories has simplified both the user experience and IT.
Private laboratory group
Network of 100+ labs
For busy laboratory Ketterthill, building a new, 3-story site offers a wealth of growth potential. An innovative robotic track system has taken automated delivery of samples to new heights, across floors and domains. And integrated directly with this delivery system, GLIMS 9 LIS supports all logistic sample processes with a single interface that provides a clear overview of samples and results validation. “GLIMS is in control.”
For Ketterthill, a leader on the ambulatory medical biology market in Luxembourg, the limitations of its main site were hampering growth. By building new technical premises, the laboratory aimed to consolidate all of its existing services and to develop new services. From the start, the site, which opened its doors in April 2015, included an innovative, automated sample delivery system developed by GLP Systems and marketed by Sysmex Europe.
The robotic track system uses GLP’s intelligent CARs; unlike Ketterthill’s previous track system, the CARs can deliver samples to multiple floors of a building, offering advantages in speed, efficiency and productivity. To optimize the potential of this innovative system, Ketterthill approached its long-time laboratory information system (LIS) supplier MIPS to integrate its GLIMS LIS with the track system. The success of this project has given Ketterthill a sample management system that prepares, encodes, centrifuges, de-caps and delivers samples to various technical areas, while providing a single interface to trace the samples and validate and check results.
A client with clear expectations
The Ketterthill team had a very clear vision of what they wanted from the integration of the LIS and track system. “Based on our experience with the previous track system and many years using GLIMS, we put together specifications for both the track and the IT,” says Valérie Gigot, Pharmacist/Clinical Biologist. “We sent them to MIPS and GLP Systems/Sysmex, and then met with both companies to see how we could work together to achieve our goals.”
Among the biggest changes Valérie Gigot and Sylvain Stuhlfauth wanted was the elimination of middleware. “Our previous track did have middleware between GLIMS and the analysers,” explains Sylvain Stuhlfauth, IT Manager. While middleware has its supporters, the Ketterthill team were adamant that this was not the right solution for them.
“You would lose fluidity and ergonomics. Working with the system would be much more complicated, as the user would have to deal with multiple interfaces. For example, the user could access the list of exams to complete, files, any problems, etc. in one interface. But to confirm or validate results, they would have to go into another system with another interface, which might not be updated. They wouldn’t have a clear, complete overview and they would have to juggle multiple systems, which would not be ergonomic.”
GLIMS as lab master
From an IT-level as well, using middleware multiplied the actions and configurations necessary by two, three or even four times. “One system communicated with another, which communicated with another, and so on,” explains Sylvain. “For four different analysers, we had to configure four times.”
To simplify the flows, Ketterthill needed direct and close communication between the track and GLIMS. “GLIMS is the LIS, and it should be the ‘master’ of everything, but middleware prevents that direct control,” Sylvain continues.
Upgrading to GLIMS 9
It became quickly apparent to the team when discussing the specifications and expectations that the project had to include upgrading to the new GLIMS 9. This meant that the lab was both implementing the new track and the updated LIS at the same time – a formidable challenge.
“MIPS had experience working with tracks, but not this one, and not exactly in the way we wanted, making it a voyage of discovery for us all,” explains Sylvain. “We met several times with MIPS, including a meeting with all the developers so they could understand what was needed.”
At the same time, as an early adopter of GLIMS 9, Ketterthill was able to identify issues with the new version and communicate them to MIPS. “Of course when you have something new there will be bugs,” comments Sylvain. “But MIPS is highly reactive; they would respond quickly and fix things, sometimes in only two days.” Despite the challenges, Sylvain and Valérie note the increased power, ergonomics and rich functionality offered by GLIMS 9.
No test environment
Among the challenges facing the team was the lack of a test environment from GLP Systems. “With no simulator available, there was no way to check before starting the tests in the real environment whether something was working correctly,” comments Sylvain.
The team organised the project in several phases. First, the analyses and analysers, evaluation methods and procedures were created within GLIMS. In parallel, a specific analyser, called ‘GLP’, was also created within GLIMS, which concentrated all of the analysers into one. Once this was completed, the set-up was tested and production started.
“Our old track only handled serum samples, and that is where we started with the new system, specifically for clinical chemistry and immunology,” explains Sylvain. “That was the biggest domain, the nucleus of operations. About six months later, we added haematology. And finally, just recently, we completed the system with urine samples for microbiology.”
Implementing lab domains one by one enabled the joint team from Ketterthill, MIPS and GLP Systems to address challenges individually, he highlights. This approach was also easier for the users. “Each domain uses different sample tubes, so users could quickly see which tubes belonged on the track, and which were still being delivered manually.”
Good to go
“The timeframe for the integration of GLIMS was related to the installation of the track,” continues Valérie. “The track was installed in April 2015, and we immediately started testing. I had a plan, I knew what I needed to test, which situations. When I found that something didn’t work right, the software would be adapted by GLIMS or GLP Systems. We didn’t start the track system till we had what we wanted.”
“Valérie and I acted as the hub of the project between the three players, but MIPS and GLP Systems also communicated directly to ensure the integration,” adds Sylvain.
Challenges were addressed head on, Valérie Gigot and Sylvain Stuhlfauth explain. “To give one example, when a machine is disconnected, the routes for all tubes that are subsequently being placed on the track take that into account. But I absolutely wanted tubes that are already on the track to be automatically re-routed, otherwise it would be chaotic! This wasn’t foreseen, and I had to wait for this modification, but I did not want to start the system in production until this was solved,” describes Valérie.
Focus on added-value
About three months later, the track was able to go-live, bringing some important changes for technicians, clinical biologists and IT, describe Valérie Gigot and Sylvain Stuhlfauth. “For the technicians who work with the track system, automation reduces low-value tasks and gives them more time to focus on higher value-added responsibilities,” says Valerie. “For the clinical biologists, the advantages are in the increased ease of accessing information and traceability: we can follow the samples, see in GLIMS where a tube is, if it has arrived at its destination, gone through the machine. Plus we can see and validate the results, all in a single interface.”
Sylvain adds, “From the IT side, previously, when an analysis had to be transferred from one analyser to another, I had to stop production and spend an hour and a half on configuration. Now, I do it in GLIMS in two clicks, in two minutes. That’s a clear gain!”
“The project development with MIPS went very well: they were responsive, reactive and listened to our needs. We are pleased that we have an innovative track system, closely integrated with our GLIMS LIS, that meets our expectations and needs, and supports our company’s growth,” concludes Valérie.
- Offers rich functionality for all types of laboratory exams, including haematology, clinical biochemistry, infectious serology, microbiology, molecular biology, fertility and immunopathology.
- Integrates directly with the track system, eliminating the need for middleware.
- Supports full traceability of samples, as well as all lab processes, tracking of samples, order entry, validation, results follow-up, etc., all on a single interface.
- Allows easy and flexible parameterisation by profile, role or user.