Global chemical companies need streamlined processes and systems in order to maximize productivity and reduce costs. However, such systems must also be flexible enough to cope with constantly changing business requirements. Dow Chemical Research and Development (R&D) offers an example of how installing a new Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) can achieve these goals.
Some of Dow R&D’s key organizations in the plastics and polymers sector include:
- Basic Plastics and Chemicals, Hydrocarbons and Energy and Licensing R&D
- Speciality Plastics, Dow Fiber Solutions and Wire and Cable R&D
- Building Solutions and Materials Transformation R&D
- Automotive and Materials Engineering R&D
- Designed Polymers and Latex R&D
- Polyurethanes and System Houses R&D and Coatings and Interfacial Science R&D
- Epoxy and Intermediates, Dow Specialty Chemicals R&D.
Dow R&D has laboratories across the globe, and its internal process management systems can contain up to 247 concurrent users at any one time. The company has a wide range of configuration requirements including tracking samples, tests, and technician and instrument hours, as well as parsing data into the system, generating results, and transmitting testing requirements to outside contract laboratories. As part of its R&D activity, Dow carries out both routine and variable sample analyses, and requires integration for approximately 50 instruments in order to undertake these tests.
Dow R&D used a variety of systems, both homegrown and vendor-supplied, for the management of data. In 1999, management at Dow R&D became concerned with a Y2K issue with their current LIMS and decided that a more flexible and adaptable replacement system was needed.
Dow R&D investigated several alternative systems and found a LIMS that:
- Provided a foundation for storing and processing of huge quantities of data, including sample and analysis tracking and reporting as well as essential technician and instrument information.
- Provided flexible software configurable to the company’s individual requirements.
- Enabled laboratories across multiple sites to easily transfer work between users, thereby leveraging resources at various sites to reduce costs.
- Offered productivity gains right from the outset.
Ever since the first successful implementation at Dow R&D in 1999, this LIMS system has been installed in approximately three Dow laboratories each year in a number of other divisions of the company, including the core analytical capability and the polyolefins, foams, gas treating and agro sciences groups.