Meet Elaine, a scientist who was recently tasked with developing a new type of battery. With dozens of different experimental options, she had theories on where to start, but was not 100% sure. In the past, Elaine would have had to either rely on general theories or spend hours researching, pouring through lab records and multiple systems to figure out the best approach.
However, because she had easy access to her R&D organization’s historical data, she was able to quickly search and review the data from previous battery development projects, which showed her that a similar project had been attempted a few years ago but failed due to a specific material used in the battery. With that information in hand, she decided to switch to a different material that had shown more promise in previous experiments—saving significant time, resources, and frustration.
There is an enormous opportunity to capitalize on historical data in the lab—just like Elaine did—in order to accelerate innovation. The good news is your labs are sitting on a goldmine of data, and it’s just a matter of putting that data to better use!
Labs Are Sitting on a Data Goldmine
There is no shortage of data being created in chemical and materials science labs—not by a longshot. In fact, practically every step of the experimentation and product development process generates data, whether it’s recorded in laboratory notebooks, captured electronically through sensors, imaging equipment, and other instruments, or obtained from academic journals or industry reports.
One Project, Millions Of Data Points
The only thing more impressive than the breadth of data generated in a lab is its depth. For example, a simple tensile strength test could result in thousands of continuous data points and multiple discrete values. And this is only for one experiment, testing one product, under one condition, and doing it only one time. When you begin to compound the amount of data collected for a project from start to finish (10’s of iterations, hundreds of tests run, and under thousands of conditions), R&D organizations are compiling vast amounts of data reaching millions of data points across projects.
What Could You Do with Immediate Access to All That Data?
Imagine if you could quickly review and analyze all the above types of data within one centralized system and then query the system with all your most pressing questions. What are the insights just waiting to be uncovered? How many iterations could you eliminate? How much smarter and faster could you innovate? Here’s a quick snapshot of the opportunities you could gain by easily tapping into the power of historical data:
- Identify trends, patterns, and relationships in chemical systems, which can inform the development of new hypotheses, experimental designs, and decision-making processes.
- Optimize experimental design and reduce redundancy by learning from previous experiments and avoiding the repetition of unsuccessful approaches or the testing of already known outcomes.
- Draw more accurate conclusions to better validate and understand the significance of your results by comparing new experimental data with historical data.
- Foster collaboration and knowledge sharing by empowering researchers to share their findings more efficiently and collaborate across institutions and disciplines.
Mining Historical Data Can Be Difficult…
Generating data in the lab is the easy part. It’s making it usable and mining it for analysis when you don’t have an adequate data capture and management framework that’s tricky.
While labs have a plethora of data, it’s often scattered across siloed systems and manual processes, including LIMs, ELNs, excel spreadsheets, flash-drives, and even handwritten notes. This makes it nearly impossible to efficiently review, analyze, and share data. Each time someone wants to research previous experiments, they have to dig out information in disconnected systems, causing unending frustration and wasted time. When collaboration is taking place, it’s via emails, calls, internal messaging systems, and shared drives—which are also timely and cumbersome and result in fragmented, incomplete information.
…But It Doesn’t Have to Be
To unlock the power of historical data within an organization, you need to first make sure it’s captured, managed, and analyzed in a consistent, reliable, and compliant way. Here are four key best practices to look for:
- Uniform data collection processes across teams and projects to ensure data is comparable.
- Clean and structured data so it can be organized and categorized easily.
- Centralized data storage for all lab data.
- A secure system to ensure regulatory compliance and protect intellectual property.
Let Albert Help You Put Those Millions of Data Points to Good Use
Albert takes a holistic approach to helping R&D organizations be more efficient and effective in order to accelerate their work. One of the ways we do this is by delivering tools that can capture, manage, and utilize R&D data so scientists, engineers, and lab technicians can readily turn it into insights. The Albert R&D platform is an end-to-end solution that removes barriers to innovation caused by siloed data in disconnected systems. As a single source of truth for R&D, Albert harnesses online collaboration, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) to achieve smarter experimentation and drives efficiencies in discovering new materials.
Albert R&D Platform Plays Matchmaker to Help an Old Material Find a New Application
In fact, the Albert R&D platform is so effective, it recently breathed new life into a material that our customer had thought was shelved for good. Working on a project for an aerospace company, the chemist was using the Albert platform and found during his search a material to use in a specific application with challenging flammability requirements.
Using Albert’s search capabilities, the chemist was able to pull several materials that fit the criteria quickly by mining their organization’s historical data. The material the aerospace company selected had initially been tested for an electronics application two years prior but failed to meet the project’s requirements. However, having the material’s property data readily available allowed the lab to revisit this material for an entirely new application and successfully commercialize it for the first time.
In the world of chemical and materials research and development, having access to historical data can be the key to unlocking new innovations and driving meaningful progress. The Albert R&D platform has helped organizations around the world to modernize their approach to data management, improve collaboration within their teams, increase efficiency, and uncover new opportunities for growth.