The Digital Lab

What is the digitalization status of life science laboratories?

Jan 4, 2022 11:45:00 AM / by Paul Planje

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA has conducted a highly interesting study to determine the current state of digitization of laboratories operating in the life science sector. The central questions of the study revolved around the challenges and non-value-added activities that laboratory employees are confronted with during their daily work. The aim was to determine whether this could be linked to the current level of automation and digitization in the laboratories.

The big challenge: documentation requirements

In the study, the subjects stated that they spend an average of 25% of their daily working time on documentation. The activity is seen as adding little value. It is striking that working with paper in particular is seen as a time waster. At the top of the labs' wish list, therefore, is the paperless lab as a way to increase efficiency.

There is still room for improvement in digitization

As part of the study, the respondents were asked to assess the degree of digitization and automation in their lab. The scale ranged from 1 (lowest degree) to 10 (highest degree). While an "uneven distribution" between 1 and 8 can be seen in the case of digitization, the degree of automation settles at 4, but is otherwise evenly distributed among values between 1 and 8. In the case of laboratory networking, an accumulation can be seen at the scale value 7, whereby the participants in the study clearly state here that the "everyday work in laboratories is strongly characterized by analog and also often by isolated solutions".

Tablets and laptops are popular in the lab

When asked about the desired end devices for data input and output in the lab, the respondents clearly tend toward the end devices tablet, laptop & desktop as well as displays directly on the device. Smartphones, on the other hand, are less relevant - here the much too small display size was frequently criticized. The test subjects emphasize that the choice of end device is very much dependent on the application. Ideally, several devices should be available in the lab at the same time.


There is still room for improvement when it comes to digitization: The study by the Fraunhofer Institute shows that laboratories are still a long way from comprehensive digitization of everyday work. However, the Internet of Lab Things is no longer uncharted territory either. It is to be expected that the level of digitization in Europe's life science laboratories will again increase significantly in the near future.

What is the situation like in your lab? Do you already work digitally - or still in the classic analog way? Write us about your experiences. We look forward to the exchange! 

Tags: Platform, Digital transformation, Digitalization, DigitalTransformation, Cloud Technology

Paul Planje

Written by Paul Planje

I have been working since 1992 on subjects such as efficiency and Productivity increase. Initially in the laboratory and research sectors. Here I made my experiences with analytical instruments and automation. With the change to sales, enterprise solutions such as Scientific Data Management Systems (SDMS), Laboratory Information Systems (LIMS), Laboratory Execution Systems (LES), Electronic Laboratory Journals (ELN) and Document Management Systems (DMS) were added. In the last years I was engaged in the digitization of processes and their measurements. Scince 2019 I'm running the iVention DACH region supporting our customers to move into the digital lab world.