Arkansas Division of Environmental Quality Implements Confience’s TITAN® LIMS to Help Laboratory Achieve Long-Term Goals

Mission to increase lab productivity, reduce paper, and achieve NELAP compliance.

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Organization Profile

Products Used

The Arkansas Division of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) includes the Laboratory and Monitoring Services (LMS) section. LMS is comprised of an Air Chemistry Laboratory, Environmental Multimedia Laboratory and a Laboratory Accreditation Program. Each year, LMS analyzes thousands of air/soil/water samples to ensure the safety of its citizens, visitors and the environment in Arkansas. LMS maintains a state-of-the-art environmental laboratory in NorthLittle Rock, AR that serves both the Air Chemistry and Environmental Multimedia Laboratories.

The Air Chemistry staff includes three chemists and a laboratory supervisor. Air Chemistry monitors the existence of pollutants including lead, ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and Particulate Matter around the state to ensure air quality is within guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Environmental Multimedia Laboratory employs a staff of four chemists and a laboratory supervisor. The laboratory is responsible for analyzing water samples collected each month from over 200 sites around the state to monitor water quality standards that affect the environment. This data is also reported to the EPA. In addition, the laboratory analyzes samples from wastewater treatment plants to ensure they are meeting federal and state permit levels. Samples are also analyzed from ground water for aquifer protection and soil samples are also analyzed for the existence of hazardous materials in cleanup sites. 

Arkansas Division of Environmental Quality (ADEQ)

Their Challenge

ADEQ implemented a commercial LIMS in 2002 and then migrated to another LIMS in 2010 to manage the large amount of data generated throughout their laboratory operations. Over time, the laboratory staff determined that there were capabilities missing from this LIMS, such as:

· The LIMS was not able to track the results of standard quality control (QC) metrics needed to generate QC reports and control charts.

· The process of changing control limits was difficult.

· The review and approval process was very cumbersome and did not provide for a three-phase review/approve/validation process.

· Instruments were not interfaced with the LIMS so getting result data to the LIMS was manual, time consuming, and prone to transcription errors.

· The LIMS was not very flexible when the lab needed to generate a report. In many cases a report ended up being over 100 pages and it was difficult to create reports in a manageable format.

· The labs required more robust QA/QC capabilities that were easy to use. Users had to export data to Excel to create graphs and control charts.

· When new users were introduced to the LIMS, there was a longer than desired learning curve. In addition, users needed to leverage other tools for data that normally would be found in a LIMS.

· Because one of the long-term goals was to become a NELAP compliant laboratory, the need for comprehensive traceability was really something ADEQ wanted from their LIMS. Unfortunately, the ability of the LIMS to provide audit-ready traceability of samples from login to disposal was lacking and the lab knew it would be an obstacle to NELAP compliance.

· There were times when a chemist wanted to access a SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) document while working in the LIMS. Unfortunately, the LIMS was not designed to store and easily access external documents like SOPs.

Additionally, most users did not find the LIMS user-friendly. There was only one individual in the lab that knew the system well. Other users would constantly go to that individual for assistance and, as a result, overall productivity was impacted. ADEQ knew their current LIMS was lacking capabilities that would keep them from achieving many of their current and future objectives.

Confience’s TITAN® LIMS has opened up many areas of tracking, auditing and reporting for the laboratory. Performance metrics are produced easily and efficiently, and electronic files keep everything related to a sample in one place.
Lessie Redican, Technical Services Division Chief

Arkansas Division of Environmental Quality

Our Solution

Due to the limitations of their existing LIMS, ADEQ began evaluating alternative LIMS solutions, especially systems known to be strong solutions for the environmental market. In addition to listing the shortcomings in their current LIMS, the team spent time defining a list of additional requirements. These requirements would enable them to achieve future goals including becoming a NELAP compliant laboratory. Following guidelines required by the State of Arkansas, a comprehensive Request for Proposal (RFP) was developed and posted through their normal procurement process. Additional team members were brought in for a more formal evaluation process.

The ADEQ team discussed and graded the RFP responses and presentations. TITAN was seen as the best choice for ADEQ. The team was impressed with TITAN’s ability to address the laboratory’s functional LIMS requirements. ADEQ also looked at the strength of the LIMS vendors from a training and support standpoint and were clearly impressed with Confience’s capabilities in these areas.

TITAN would be central to helping ADEQ achieve many of their current and future goals, including:

· Reducing the amount of paper being generated in the lab. Paper is costly to maintain and means much of the data is being captured and used with manual processes  that are inefficient and prone to human error.

· ADEQ was impressed with TITAN’s interface design from an ease-of-use standpoint. A user-friendly system would ensure that laboratory staff could fully leverage TITAN’s powerful capabilities.

· Implementing TITAN was critical for adoption of a review/approve/validate process that would help boost lab productivity, standardize accepted lab procedures, and improve data quality.

· TITAN provides ADEQ with a level of powerful traceability and auditing. This gives ADEQ management the confidence that if any questions are raised about a specific  test performed in the past, TITAN will quickly provide a complete history of that test. Traceability in TITAN will also play a key role in helping the laboratory achieve and  maintain requirements for NELAP compliance.

· Using TITAN will provide inventory tracking of the lab’s chemical and reagent supplies and alert staff when inventory falls below pre-defined reorder levels,  enhancing lab efficiency. Inventory reporting will also provide a level of cost control that management has never experienced before.

· Implementing TITAN also includes the interfacing of ADEQ’s scientific instruments and installing bar code printer and hand scanner technology. This provides a complete laboratory automation solution that eliminates paper while increasing the productivity of the lab staff.

· Instruments interfaced with TITAN LIMS:

       ·  Agilent GC/MS Model7890A/2400 w/ Teledyne

       ·  Atomx Autosampler

      ·  Agilent ICP-OES 5100SVDV

      ·  GE Analytical, Sievers TOC5310 C

      ·  GE Analytical, Sievers TOCM5310 C

      ·  HACH Orion Conductivity MeterHQ 40d Multi

      ·  HACH Lachet Quik Chem 8500 Series 2

      ·  HF Scientific Turbidimeter Micro 100

      ·  Sartorius Analytical Balance MSA 124S-100DI

      ·  Shimadzu GC-2010 Plus AE -DRO

      ·  Hydra AF Mercury Analyzer

      ·  Hydra C Mercury Analyzer

      ·  Shimadzu GC -2010 Plus AE – PCB

      ·  Thermo Dionex IC-2100

      ·  Thermo ICP-MSX-Series 2

      ·  Thermo OrionVersaStar pH meter

      ·  Varion GC/MS Model 3890/4000

      ·  Westco Discrete Analyzer Smart Chem

Confience’s Professional Services Team also contributed two key deliverables as part of the final TITAN LIMS solution. First, Confience engineers developed a Chain of Custody (CoC) import that allowed field inspectors to download all the information from their CoC records seamlessly into TITAN. This was a manual procedure previously and was a source of errors in transcription and interpretation of handwriting. The CoC is now saved with the work order and easily retrieved in TITAN.

Second, Confience engineers converted the data from previous in-house databases and the LIMS by writing stored procedures to move all of the data into TITAN, for easy accessibility, security, and easier maintenance. Having all environmental data (over 30 years of data) in one secure database format allowed access by different program users within ADEQ.

Confience is driven by the mission to provide automated lab management and data their customers can act on to build trusted products and a thriving planet. The result of a recently announced merger between Accelerated Technology Laboratories (ATL) and Quality Systems International (QSI), Confience offers LIMS solutions that empower lab and quality managers to accurately gather, analyze, report data, work efficiently and intuitively, meet compliance goals, and exceed business objectives.

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