In close cooperation with Sandberg Analytical, PANalytical has developed a dedicated laboratory information management system (LIMS). Called SPARCS, this solution is now available through PANalytical's priority lane department. The metals industry has long suffered from a lack of commercially available LIMS to match their specific requirements. Consequently, many users developed their own system according to their own needs, usually with high development and maintenance costs. As these systems were mainly implemented with older technologies, major problems occur due to lack of hardware and software support. The SPARCS laboratory information management system carries out fully automatic data processing, whilst allowing operator intervention when it is needed. Manual intervention might be required under circumstances when results deviate from the expected, show unusual deviation between instruments or to carry out operator-specific adjustments. Since the amount of information being processed can be significant, and operators focus on other tasks, all SPARCS user interfaces are designed to be dedicated, efficient and easy to use. To meet individual needs and operator preferences, SPARCS also allows each user interface to be configured. 

Key benefits of the SPARCS LIMS system include extremely rapid data processing for faster analysis, flexible configuration for broader applications, distributed computing for multi-user access, standard Microsoft-based user interface requiring less user training, wide database compatibility supporting integration with legacy systems and low hardware requirements. 

Optional modules

Although SPARCS comes as a comprehensive package, individual needs may require different modules. In order to keep the package as cost-effective as possible, a number of optional modules are available to support specific, non-standard requirements. 

• On-line SPC (statistical process control) 

The on-line SPC module permits graphical presentation of data using Shewhart charts with either pre-defined and/or calculated limits. Violation of the rules is automatically signaled. On-line SPC calculations can be done automatically as soon as the data becomes available.

• Quality control

Pre-defined upper and lower limits can be set for product qualities. As the analysis results become available, automatic checks against these preset limits are performed. Dependent on the way SPARCS has been configured, operator intervention can be requested or an alternative, automatic action is performed.

• Cost calculation/reporting 

Allows for the automatic charging of costs to customers of the laboratory. Costs can be measured: per instrument, per analytical program, or in relation to manual effort. 

• Customer module, incl. database

This module supports the configuration and maintenance of individual customer databases within a laboratory. Analysis results can be assigned to these customers for further processing. 

• Invoicing

Enables automatic invoice distribution based on analysis costs. Cost reports can be generated after individual analyses or after batches of analyses (e.g. on monthly basis). The invoicing module requires the customer module