The formulation process in the Chemistry and Materials Science industry can be extremely overwhelming for a lab technician, especially for those newer to their role. Whether it’s knowing how to handle intricate instruments, making sure there’s enough raw materials available, knowing how to mix complex compounds, accurately following safety and environmental protocols, or maintaining precision in measurements, lab technicians have many challenges to contend with for each project.
Without Albert: Challenges in Running Smooth Experiments
With their main source of guidance and support (beyond their lab managers and colleagues) typically being a mix of emails, Excel spreadsheets and physical or electronic lab notebooks, lab technicians often encounter several issues:
- Challenge of keeping track of tasks within multiple projects
Most Lab technicians are working on multiple projects at a time and tasked with trying to manage it all through separate spreadsheets and notebooks. As a result, it’s challenging to keep track of what’s been done or what still needs to be done when you have several projects going on at once, and much too often tasks are forgotten or there is a mix up a step in the process.
- Challenge of passing off tasks mid-stream
The risk of mistakes increases dramatically if the lab technician needs to hand off some tasks for another technician to complete as documenting status and modifications in a clear and consistent way using spreadsheets and lab notebooks is not easy.
- Challenge of when experiments don’t go as planned
When experiments don’t go as planned, it’s hard to recover and get the experiment back on track. For example, there are many cases where some material gets spilled, or a technician is running out of an important raw material halfway through preparing the batches. In that scenario, they usually need to pause the experiment until they have more materials in hand.
Without any centralized way to document and communicate where they are in the process in real time, lab technicians often must resort to hand-written notes attached to the formulation, which is cumbersome and unreliable.
As a result of these key challenges, lab technicians often feel overwhelmed, lab managers end up spending more time micromanaging their staff to understand what’s being done, and the lab finds itself wasting excessive time and materials on unproductive work.
Albert changes all of this.
With Albert: Experiments Run More Smoothly, and Team is Enabled to Be More Effective
When a lab manager is ready to hand over formulation batch tasks to lab technicians, they can do it quickly and easily through Albert’s Task module. This enables lab managers to:
- Easily translate “lab work” into limited scope and time framed tasks
- Assign each task to the lab technician best suited for the work, whether it’s due to their location, experience, or availability
Alternatively, the lab manager can leave the task ‘unclaimed’, allowing for the pooling of resources across all lab technicians in the laboratory. This can result in productivity increases up to 50%, as work can be much more efficiently distributed and prioritized when it’s not delegated 1:1.
Imagine in the old way of working, 6 viscosity measurements are traditionally going to be done on the same day by 6 different lab technicians. With pooled resources, a single technician can claim all viscosity tasks and complete them much more efficiently compared to 6 people fighting to get time on the Rheometer)
Lab Technicians can more effectively manage tasks
Once the task is assigned or claimed by a lab technician, they will see it appear on their screen via pop-up notification along with every other task from every other project that they are working on. The benefits of this are numerous:
- No more toggling between multiple spreadsheets or notebooks to see the work that’s ahead of them across the relevant projects; it’s all right there on one page.
- Much easier to keep track of what still needs to be done; everything is color coded based on the status.
- Ability to manage time much more effectively, as can filter work based on similar tasks.
With Albert, lab technicians can more efficiently manage tasks—for example easily filter tasks to focus on tasks related to a particular instrument in order to only need to set up that instrument once.
Passing off tasks is more efficient
If some tasks need to be handed over to another colleague, especially in situations where several part-time technicians tag-team on projects throughout the week, this can be done very easily through Albert. Because Albert stores all the work in a centralized location, everyone can see exactly what’s been done, what still needs to be done, and any modifications that were made or results that were achieved.
There’s one source of truth that’s captured in a standardized and transparent way, which is powerful when it comes to collaboration and communication.
Averting possible delays due to Inventory
Albert’s integrated Inventory module will alert a lab technician if a raw material is running low before they begin the experiment, so they won’t run out of it midway through a planned series of experiments. Once they start to make a batch, Albert even provides a shopping list, giving the technician a list of all raw materials and locations to find them within the lab.
After learning about this new feature, one lab technician using Albert stated, “This is going to save me at least 10 minutes per batch. Times that by the multiple batches per day, this time savings adds up quickly!”
And if a lab technician happens to spill a batch, it’s extremely simple for them to make a new one, as every step and setting detail for that batch is captured in Albert. This detailed tracking of processes also comes in handy when investigating what happened if or when an experiment goes wrong.
As a result of using Albert, customer’s experience:
More repeatable and successful experiments. Better collaboration, and less frustration for everyone. And most importantly, a dramatically more productive and efficient lab.
“Whether you want to or not, all chemistry lab employees need to do the formulation thing at some point in their careers. Not only is the work complex and tedious, but it’s also very hard to keep track of all the different tasks that are happening when you are using a spreadsheet. With Albert, it’s easy. You have a to-do list that tells you everything you need to do, and everyone is on the same page. Everything stays on track.”
Technical Success Specialist at Albert
prior to Albert: R&D Manager, Digital Tools and Data Science, BASF