3 Simple Ways Lab Operations Can Use Virtual Assistants
There are two common misconceptions that we encounter with LabVoice. The first is that it takes a lot of activation energy and resources to tailor and deploy virtual assistants. The second is that LabVoice is only useful to research scientists performing experiments and collecting data.
LabVoice is meant for anybody working in the laboratory and takes much less effort than one might think to get started. Here are three simple ways our laboratory customers use LabVoice to streamline lab management, boost efficiency, and oversee laboratory operations.
Ordering Lab Supplies
Ordering lab consumables and managing a chemical inventory can be quite the adventure, especially in a startup environment where very little has been established around the ordering and procurement process. Although scientists don’t intend to forget to reorder supplies when they run low, they understandably forget from time to time, especially if it’s not a responsibility they’ve had in previous roles. After all, they’re all juggling a lot with experiments, data entry, presentation development, etc. Other times, two people order the same thing, and they don’t realize that a duplicate order has been placed. This can create headaches for lab managers and budgets alike and may result in safety and regulatory issues such as flammable limit exceedances or increased hazardous waste disposal costs.
With LabVoice, teams have been able to set up virtual “carts” in the form of a shared Excel/Google sheet. Users ask their virtual assistant to order more supplies in real-time, such as when they’re walking by the shelves and notice supplies are low. LabVoice will follow up with a few questions (What supply? How much? By when? etc). In a few seconds, that information is populated in the shared sheet and can be reviewed by lab managers and procurement officers to streamline ordering, resulting in decreased downtime and fewer double orders.
Environmental, Health, & Safety Benefits
Startup employees are known for wearing many hats, and oftentimes, the safety “hat” falls to the lab manager or research scientists. They’re responsible for managing EH&S guidelines, maintaining regulatory compliance, and making sure the laboratory is prepared to respond correctly in the event of a laboratory incident or emergency.
Laboratory incidents such as a chemical spill or lab fire can occur unexpectedly and it’s imperative to have quick access to emergency protocols and contact information. Additionally, there are specific OSHA requirements for emergency response, some of which require multiple responders. As Corey Martin, CEO of Spotlight Safety, points out, “OSHA requires a buddy system for hazardous chemical spill response, which means that laboratory personnel working alone – something fairly common in early-stage R&D companies and academic institutions – need special protocols for “after-hours” emergency response. LabVoice would provide an added layer of security for employees working alone, as a voice activated means of accessing emergency protocols and reaching out for help.”
“LabVoice would provide an added layer of security for employees working alone, as a voice activated means of accessing emergency protocols and reaching out for help.”
- Corey Martin, CEO of Spotlight Safety
LabVoice works with lab managers to load their safety protocols and emergency procedures into the platform. Once there, scientists can ask their virtual assistant to contact a safety team member and/or review initial response and notification requirements to ensure compliance. Further, the LabVoice mobile app can display relevant safety information visually, as well as audibly, to guide laboratory employees through a procedure.
Finally, LabVoice provides a much quicker and more efficient means of communicating observed hazards with members of the safety team. It can also be used to initiate the incident and near-miss reporting process by collecting and distributing initial incident data to the appropriate safety officers.
Asset Management & Equipment Issues
Most startup laboratories also require lab managers to wear the equipment “hat” as well. If an instrument malfunctions, is out of calibration, or needs validation, lab managers are expected to coordinate vendor support, if they’re unable to troubleshoot the issue themselves. Similar to the inventory example we provided above, even in the smallest of labs, scientists may not relay equipment issues to the lab ops team in an efficient manner, and the lab manager is often left scrambling to help resolve the situation when the instrument is needed again.
“Automated data collection and workflow optimization are the lifeblood of digital transformation within life science organization.”
- Rob Pemberton, CCO at Elemental Machines
Virtual assistants help lab managers better manage these kinds of equipment issues. In the event of a simple fix, like a calibration, a platform like LabVoice can walk the user through the basic calibration instructions. In the event there’s an issue with the instrument, users can use LabVoice to create a ticketing system (either through a spreadsheet or existing asset management tool) to get the minimum information to the lab manager, creating more efficient communication with the vendor. “Automated data collection and workflow optimization are the lifeblood of digital transformation within life science organization. Today, Lab Operations Managers are leveraging these tools to help increase business continuity and overall operational efficiency,” explains Robert Pemberton, CCO Elemental Machines.
These are just a few ways in which LabVoice can make the lives of lab managers easier and less chaotic. Can you think of other ways that LabVoice and virtual assistants can help with lab operations? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be happy to collaborate with you, or even provide a tailored voiceflow of one of your processes.