Headquartered in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Environmental Service Laboratories (ESL) is a NELAP accredited full-service environmental laboratory. ESL addresses the analytical testing needs of natural gas drilling companies, industrial facilities, municipalities, engineering firms, local/state/federal government, and the general public.
Implementation of Element LIMS has boosted efficiency and contributed to reduced turnaround times, stronger quality control, and access to critical operational and analytical information. The system has provided ESL with an array of tools to improve operational performance.
In 1988, with a staff of two, Environmental Service Laboratories (ESL) began sampling and analyzing purveyor wells and springs for conventional gas well drillers. Since then, ESL has grown to nearly 50 employees in three locations, and has expanded analytical capabilities to include a full slate of environmental testing matrices and methods. ESL is accredited through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to perform analysis of drinking water, non-potable water, and solid and chemical materials. Capabilities include: microbiology, classical chemistry, metals, volatile organics, semi-volatile organics, pesticides and PCB’s, herbicides gas analysis (BTU, methane, ethane, propane), and is an approved dairy and meat testing laboratory.
Over the last thirty years, ESL has established a strong presence in the region. Growth was spurred on by attention to turnaround time, customer service, and quality. That growth brought operational challenges as the ESL team flexed to keep up with the increased demand of testing and changes in technology. Manual activities became a barrier to the business objectives and ESL sought to automate and streamline operations.
Adding new instruments and enhancing analytical capabilities was one way the laboratory extended its business, but the ESL management team understood the power of introducing a new information management system. Addressing information management throughout the laboratory would have a major impact on operations. After an extensive search, Element LIMS was selected as their laboratory information management system (LIMS) with the goal of eliminating manual activities and increasing efficiency.
Brad Madadian, President of the laboratory, has thirty years of experience in environmental science and laboratory operations. Originally trained as a chemist, and having risen up the ranks to hold executive positions in several prominent laboratories, Brad has a wealth of experience and unique insights into managing a testing business. “No laboratory can exist today without a LIMS and Element LIMS is central to our operations. Element LIMS is critical for management of daily operations and getting the big picture in terms of the business,” says Madadian. “We live by the LIMS, not only in terms of operations, but also forecasting, and the direction of the business itself, and the broader picture in terms of the information that it can provide with different KPIs and queries.”
ESL has focused on reducing turnaround time as a competitive advantage and Element LIMS has played an important role in that effort. The team has concentrated on improving workflow and eliminating paper. “One of the great things about Element LIMS is that it offers the capabilities of going paperless and getting away from the log books, and have everything in the system, the forms, the appropriate QC, and the rest,” says Madadian.
Streamlining and automating workflow and instrument integration replaced manual data entry and note taking. The Element Datatool feature that uploads instrument data and takes out any chance of human error has been a big time saver. “It literally takes seconds to set up a new instrument to handshake with the LIMS because Promium has a very solid library of the instruments and so if someone acquires a new instrument that is well known in the industry and analytical testing, rest assured that they can get online quickly versus other LIMS where there is development required,” says Madadian.
Brad Madadian, President
ESL has found that Element LIMS provides a solid platform for ensuring strong analytical discipline across the laboratory. While there is inherent flexibility based on the configurability of the system, there is also a structured approach to quality and workflow. “You don’t want anybody to be able to just go in and do certain things on the analytical side of the data,” says Madadian. ”Element LIMS is very tight. It is very methodical.” The strong scientific discipline built into the system ensures the laboratory team adheres to internal and industry standards. An additional layer of accountability that enhances the defensibility of the data, is the automated audit trail. “With the audit trail within the system, I can go back and see who changed what,” says Madadian. “That’s the traceability and documentation of who has gone and done what, and it is extremely transparent.”
ESL has been able to use information from Element LIMS to improve management of daily workflow activities. Through a series of reports that Madadian had created, he is able to keep track of what’s happening in the lab on a real-time basis. “Element LIMS has made a huge, huge difference in terms of tracking and turnaround time,” says Madadian. “And having automation of the reports, for instance what’s ready and what’s in the queue to go out, means I can check on a minute or hourly or daily basis, and see the things that are ready so we don’t sit on them and we can get them out.”
The software is not the only thing that has made a difference. Madadian has found the Promium team to be very supportive of his quest to continually improve operations. “They are fantastic,” says Madadian. “The support guys have patience and knowledge and are very helpful. Light years, and I really mean light years ahead of other companies. They are magnificent.”
Madadian and his team continue to learn new aspects of the system and work with Promium to improve functionality and expand capabilities. Promium also offers a hosted solution for Element LIMS of interest to ESL, that saves on server hardware and IT expenses. Overall, they are very satisfied with how ESL has grown and how Element LIMS has been a key factor in that growth. “If one wanted to open up an analytical testing business or is looking for a new LIMS I would without a doubt, suggest to go with Element LIMS,” says Madadian. “Not just because of my prior knowledge of the system, but everyone who I have talked with that has Element LIMS is extremely satisfied. I’ve looked at laboratories during acquisitions, and asked how do you like your LIMS? The ones that have Element LIMS, they just love it.”