LABVOLUTION: A digitized lab environment to be showcased at smartLAB 2019

In 2019, networking and interaction between people, machines and systems will be the primary focus of the smartLAB showcase. For the third time in succession, this project will pose the vision of leading-edge networked laboratories that incorporate new technology, thereby extending their range of capabilities. Users in sectors such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals/medicine, environmental technology and food can testify to the potential of these recent developments and the countless applications in their own labs. "Currently not a single manufacturer or service provider offers a completely digital lab infrastructure", explains Dr. Sascha Beutel, who is also responsible for the smartLAB project at the Institute of Industrial Chemistry at Leibniz University of Hannover. "The smartLAB does something quite unique: in collaboration with industrial companies and research institutes we present a vision of how the digital laboratory could look in 10 or 20 years from now – a hands-on vision."

The 14 partners engaged in the smartLAB project pursue the question of how digitization can improve laboratory processes. However, the new smartLAB in 2019 will also be focusing on the challenges of applying digital technology in decentralized working and global networking. For example, the event will highlight the importance of data security in the smartLAB, although most of the new developments showcased will be innovations in communication and interactive media. Two "use case" scenarios will be staged to help users see how the smartLAB functions on a daily basis. One new development at the trade show is the smartLAB hands-on laboratory, where visitors can also try out the digitized workflows – and enjoy a sherbet reward! In addition, visitors have the opportunity to design their own smartLAB with the help of virtual reality.

"Everyone is talking about the networked laboratory, but we must also talk about communication with this laboratory", says Beutel. "The interaction between lab staff and equipment is a decisive factor in being able to use the benefits of digitization to best effect." The smartLAB 2019 will thus showcase smart glasses, touch beamers and voice control. Whereas robotic arms are commonly used in dispensing chemicals, the smartLAB will for the first time demonstrate the use of drones. Other efficiency-enhancing laboratory innovations will include chemfinder apps and a colony counter app.

Users from industry recognize the benefits of smartLAB

The hands-on area is being extended in the interests of trade visitors at LABVOLUTION. In previous years it became evident that trade visitors were keen not only to see and hear – they also wanted to experience the smartLAB itself. "For the German pharmaceutical industry, and especially for companies engaged in research and the development of new and existing, trusted active ingredients, it is very important that advanced laboratory methods and techniques be applied", says Dr. Pablo Serrano, Director of the Business Field Biotechnology within the Federal Association of the German Pharmaceutical Industry. "The smartLAB concept at LABVOLUTION generates impetus and ideas for the further development of bio-medical analytical labs in the future." The significance of the topic "networking" was also emphasized by Dr. Gerhard Krammer, Senior Vice President of the Research & Technology Group Flavor Division: "The complete integration of data generation, data analysis, data interpretation and data management offers clear competitive benefits and is pivotal to the success of technology-driven companies such as Symrise. Consequently, Symrise, taking the standpoint of the user, attaches great importance to LABVOLUTION."

Use cases demonstrate the benefits of a digitized lab environment

The use cases to be featured within smartLAB are sure to attract a lot of interest, also thanks to an expanded scope of live demos portraying real-world applications. The aim is to help visitors understand what it would be like working in a digitized lab environment in the future, and what the benefits are. In both use cases, laboratory staff will be interactively guided through the various steps and work processes involved. Digital systems help to reduce errors and can deliver seamless documentation in a fully automated way. The first use case involves bioreactor induction, whereas the second focuses on water analysis and field testing.

In addition to the TCI and Deutsche Messe, some of the partners contributing to smartLAB are Eppendorf, Labfolder, Köttermann, PreSens, Schmidt+Haensch, Sartorius and Fraunhofer IPA. Among the new exhibitors are Mettler Toledo, iGo3D, Noack Laboratories, Real-world One and the Institute for Journalism and Communication at the University for Music, Theatre and Media, Hannover.

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