Healthcare Use Case
IoT in laboratory automation
Every day, analytical laboratories around the world face the challenge of analyzing several thousand samples with the maximum precision and accuracy. To achieve this, Steadforce has developed the software for a fully automated sample distribution and transport system on behalf of GLP Systems.
Analytical laboratories benefit enormously from a high degree of automation, as manual processing is error-prone and labor-intensive. The quantity of analyses to be performed daily, for example for blood measurement, and the desired and necessary accuracy are very high. Even in smaller laboratories, thousands of samples are analysed every day with different equipment. Depending on the type of analysis, a wide variety of different devices are used in pre-analytics, analytics and post-analytics. The analysis results must typically be available within a few hours. Some of them, such as those in hospitals, are particularly time-critical.
Because of these requirements, Steadforce has developed software for a sample distribution system, the so-called Track Sample Manager, for GLP Systems. The blood samples are transported on a track from small electric sample transport vehicles, the CARs, to the analysis machines.
The graphic designer implemented by Steadforce allows the planning and configuration of the track and the system. The network graph generated by the designer tool serves as basis for the control. In addition, parts lists are generated for the parts required to build the tracks.
With the software developed by Steadforce, laboratories have the possibility to monitor and evaluate the operation by means of live visualizations. In addition, it is possible to simulate the laboratory control "dryly", evaluate operating parameters and thus optimise the workflow.
Intelligent control through the power of the IoT
Such a system from GLP is used in more than 20 laboratories in seven countries around the world, including Germany, Great Britain and Australia. In a typical laboratory, it coordinates around 1,000 vehicles that transport up to 35,000 samples daily on a track that runs over several floors.
The Track Sample Manager developed by us steers loaded CARs to their respective destinations and unloaded ones to the site of operation or into a charging track to recharge the battery. The software takes into account factors such as traffic and flow control, balanced utilization of equipment, equipment availability and priority-based scheduling. The system allows a lab-specific connection to the laboratory information system used to configure the sample workflow.
The system can be configured and monitored in real-time in a management console. Monitors show the operating status and warn when manual intervention is necessary, for example, for refilling supplies.
Our system collects and processes several hundred sensor signals per second and responds with soft real-time response. It is designed to correct any errors that occur. This means that it is able to deal with defective switches, misguided vehicles or manually removed vehicles. Mechanisms for handling equipment failures and disaster recovery are also implemented.
Typically, several gigabytes of data about every activity and every step of the track and samples are accumulated daily. The modern techniques of IoT allow for early detection of possible errors and their rapid correction.
Close cooperation with our customers
Steadforce has many years of experience in the field of Digital Healthcare. We are a professional IT company that develops solutions in close and agile cooperation with our customers. Thus we can guarantee individual extensions of features and a short time-to-market.
Our customer GLP Systems was quickly able to present a first executable demonstration as a Minimum Viable Product at a fair. The software has now grown into a powerful and scalable platform, enabling our solution to provide support to the customer in all phases of the product life cycle.