Citizens Energy is Leveraging the Power of Confience’s Sample Master® LIMS to Increase Lab Productivity

The result is significant time savings throughout the sample testing process.

Water and Wastewater industry Icon
Water & Wastewater

Organization Profile

Citizens Energy Group provides several services for the Indianapolis area including water and wastewater, natural gas and thermal energy. Citizens Energy Group Lab Services (CEGLS) conducts testing for the organization's drinking water and wastewater operations. This includes testing thirteen drinking water facilities, two wastewater treatment plants and several production wells. The laboratory conducts approximately 120,000 drinking water tests annually and complies with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requirements.

On the wastewater side, the lab performs testing that complies with discharge monitoring and NPDES reporting requirements. CEGLS has 15 employees including a Laboratory Manager, 2 Laboratory Supervisors, 9 analysts and 3 field sample technicians. The volume of testing performed by the staff monthly is significant: 1,800 samples, 8,500 analyses covering 13,000 parameters. The lab also provides other valuable services including monitoring and control of algal toxins and organic compounds (geosmin and MIB), answering consumer requests on the customer water quality hotline, and providing scientific consulting services for individual business units.

Citizens Energy Group Laboratory

Their Challenge

For many years, CEGLS managed data generated by the laboratory manually using lab notebooks and calculators. This was extremely labor-intensive work with long turnaround times. And because all the data entry and calculations were performed manually, data quality was an issue. In the mid-1990s, the lab invested in computer technology and began using spreadsheets for data management, analysis, and reporting. There were improvements in turnaround time and required less labor, but this solution was still prone to data entry errors and reporting capabilities were limited. In 2004, the lab implemented their first LIMS. This was a significant improvement over spreadsheets since the LIMS provided basic sample management along with a level of testing analysis, including QA/QC control charting, that the lab did not previously have available.

While this initial LIMS provided a better data management solution, there were still many areas that presented challenges for the lab. These included the following:  

  • The LIMS required a considerable amount of configuration to optimize it for CEGLS.  
  • While the sample batching and reporting capabilities of the LIMS was adequate, the lab wanted additional LIMS functionality that would provide more comprehensive analysis along with easier report generation.  
  • CEGLS wanted more autonomy in configuring the LIMS – much of it required the vendor’s involvement.
  • Modifying existing reports required the use of a reporting tool that was not user-friendly.
  • Some calculations could not be executed in the LIMS; data was exported to a spreadsheet for the calculations and then imported back into the LIMS. This process was very time-consuming.  
  • The LIMS included functionality designed for other industries. CEGLS decided that the next LIMS would cater to the needs of water/wastewater laboratories.
Confience's Sample Master LIMS is a simple to use, well-organized product that exceeds our expectations. It also provides us the organizational needs required in this industry.
Mark Gray, Laboratory Services Manager

Citizens Energy Group

Our Solution

CEGLS eventually decided to investigate alternative LIMS solutions and evaluated several LIMS products that were known to be strong options for water/wastewater and environmental laboratories. The lab staff judged the LIMS solutions based on the evolving requirements of the laboratory and chose Confience’s Sample Master LIMS through a Request for Proposal (RFP) selection process. CEGLS was impressed with Confience for a number of reasons including the following:

  • Powerful LIMS capabilities that are a natural fit for water/wastewater and environmental laboratories.
  • The lab was impressed with Sample Master LIMS QA/QC functionality including QA/QC batch and comprehensive control charting capabilities.  
  • Configurability options and the ability to easily create and modify new and existing reports.  
  • Ability to automatically schedule samples in advance (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually, etc.).  
  • Users can query the LIMS and create an unlimited number of user-definable reports.  
  • Confience worked with the lab to interface the LIMS with the majority of their instruments. While the lab did have instrument interfacing with the previous LIMS, configuration with Sample Master LIMS is more efficient.  
  • Sample Master LIMS also provides the lab with several automated functions, such as automated calculations, auto email and the ability to have the calendar trigger alerts for compliance events.  
  • CEGLS uses Sample Master LIMS to ensure that the lab meets its reporting requirements to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management for drinking water analysis and to ensure NPDES compliance for wastewater discharge monitoring.

CEGLS is happy with the LIMS and has documented some impressive productivity metrics. Since implementing, CEGLS has been able to streamline tasks and incorporate a high degree of automation into the sample testing process. The result of these efforts can be measured by the fact that the laboratory has saved 2.5 hours of person-hours per week. This savings was realized in sample log-in or QC batch creation due to the speed and intuitiveness of the LIMS. Sample Master LIMS has proven to be an integral component to the lab’s operation and is playing a key role in achieving its data quality, lab productivity and compliance goals.

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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