QA/QC Insight: Integrating the lab with SAP®, Part 1

"QA/QC Insight" will be a blog series authored by Steve Bolton, Marketing Program Manager for the Ensemble for QA/QC informatics platform at PerkinElmer Informatics. Steve has over 20 years of experience in the field of laboratory informatics with a focus on applications for the QA/QC lab. During that time he has experienced the evolution and revolution of laboratory informatics from DOS prompt commands to web based, integrated systems and mobile apps.

Over the years I’ve seen organizations discover real value by providing close integration between their QA/QC laboratories and SAP® Quality Management (QM) software.

In almost all cases, integration between the lab and SAP opens up opportunities to:

·         Further leverage investment in SAP

·         Consolidate technologies and reduce IT costs by using SAP QM to replace LIMS

·         Ensure timely, accurate delivery of data into SAP QM in order to support decision making in the manufacturing process

However, there can often be a reluctance to start up a project like this as there can be real concerns around the complexity, cost and time involved. In the laboratory, there can be apprehensions about losing efficiency along with losing flexibility and control over their processes

In this two part series I’ll look at two approaches to SAP QM integration that address these concerns. I’ll start by considering a simple integration that connects instruments and data systems directly with SAP QM.

Simple, Direct Integration with SAP QM

At its most basic level, integration can simply be a matter of transferring results from instruments and data systems into SAP QM. The process should be as transparent as possible for lab technicians so that it doesn’t get in the way of their workflow and reduce their efficiency.

Ideally, the solution should also be a “universal connector” that can collect data from any type of instrument or data system. Having a single “connector” that can be configured to work with each instrument in the lab will help to reduce the time, effort and cost of implementation and maintenance.

With the right tool, even a simple, direct integration can be used to automate some routine, manual tasks in the laboratory.

·         Calculations that need to be performed before the data goes to SAP can be automated within the interface to ensure that they are done consistently and accurately every time.

·         Worklists can be collected from SAP and used to map test results from the instrument with samples as they are stored in SAP.

·         Limit checks can be performed to identify Out-of-Specification test results before reporting to SAP

A simple, direct interface with SAP can be a cost effective solution for automating the transfer of test results from laboratory instruments to SAP QM. Choosing a configurable solution with additional power for processing of data can eliminate the cost and effort required to implement laboratory specific calculations and processing in SAP®.

In Part 2 I will investigate how a fuller integration between SAP and the laboratory can open up opportunities to enhance laboratory processes by adding new levels of automation and control at the bench level.

OF INTEREST: Connector for SAP a simple direct interface between SAP and the laboratory.

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