Digital Lean Laboratory in the time of COVID-19

For the last few years the Life Sciences sector, which includes Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology and Medical devices has experienced unprecedented volatility1 and pivots2. The Blockbuster era, characterized by the sale of stable demands and high profit margins has been replaced by fluctuating economic conditions1. While Life Sciences remains a thriving global industry, with worldwide prescription drug sales expected to reach $1.2T by 2024, today’s industry is far more convoluted and faces growing uncertainties. The pharmaceutical marketplace is changing dramatically, with huge implications for the industry as a whole2. Growth has increased in the emerging markets (BRIC) with the advent of Biosimilars, growing prosperity and increased life expectancy. Further growth is expected in eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Middle East3. In contrast, in developed markets, companies are experiencing losses in sales, due to patent expiration, the rise of generic drugs, increased regulations and pricing pressure reforms. The resulting global supply chain is more volatile, complex and exposed to geopolitical uncertainties4

Right now, we are in the midst of a global pandemic as the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes (COVID- 19) has spread around the globe infecting 10,710,005 people and causing 517,877 deaths (WH0). COVID-19, has negatively affected all industries. Although Life Sciences and Healthcare have been major players in the amelioration of the disease, producing medical supplies, testing kits and developing vaccines, it has not been without its consequences. COVID-19 has also significantly disrupted Life Sciences supply chains and revenue5, with the shift towards remote work, reduced testing capacity and pressure to increase speed. As the pandemic expands and with the already shaky footing and shrinking profit margins of the Life Sciences industry, COVID- 19 is a catalyst for change. Now, more than ever, in order to ride the wave of uncertainty, Life Sciences and particularly laboratories need a more innovative method for agility and flexibility and an approach to reduce operating costs. 

Lean laboratory is novel practice to manage laboratory operations. It takes the principles of Lean pioneered in manufacturing and customizes it to fit the complexity of laboratory operations. Taking into account the higher mix volatility of incoming products, testing complexities, capacity and equipment constraints. Lean laboratory improves efficiencies by removing waste in testing processes, streamlining and standardizing processes, optimizing resource scheduling through leveling and batching and when combined with visual, performance management directly reduces operating costs and improves lead time performance. Up until now, traditional Lean laboratory implementations have relied on manual approaches such as Excel spreadsheets and white boards. Lacking real-time visibility and performance. Often leading to problems with Lean process adoption and adherence. White boards have also led to compliance issues due to transcription errors and repeat testing. Additionally, these manual approaches can’t interact with GMP LIMS systems creating a disjointed process of operations. 

But there is a better approach, by anchoring Lean Laboratory into a digital platform, Life Sciences laboratories can eliminate more waste, save more money and increase their competitive advantage. Next generation digital Lean laboratories is a game changer. It intensifies the benefits of traditional Lean through real-time end-to-end visibility and performance, data-driven-decision making and efficient Lean scheduling. Analysts will experience more consistent and leveled work days with reduction in overtime and more work-life balance. Laboratory management will have greater visibility to foresee issues before they arise instead of constant fire-fighting. Customers of the lab will also benefit from this approach. Supply chain will have visibility on the status of the batches in the testing process and will enjoy consistent lead time performance. With a wealth of laboratory process data captured in the platform, with a click of a button, leadership will be able to make better business decisions such as whether to hire more resources, purchase a new piece of equipment or hold more inventory on hand. 

With growing global financial uncertainties and pandemics, the time for a new approach to Life Sciences laboratory operations is now. Digital Lean laboratory can propel your labs to the next level, maximizing output and performance, all the while reducing costs. Transform your laboratory operations today by contacting Lab Kanban ( 


  1. 2016 Global life sciences outlook. Moving forward with cautious optimism. (2016). Deloitte
  2. lshc-2016-life-sciences-outlook.pdf 2. Pharma 2020: Marketing the Future which path will you take. (2009). Pricewaterhouse Coopers
  3. 3. Jacoby, R., Smith, E., Wilkins, D., Iyer, D., Peltre, S. (2016). Winning with Biosimilars Opportunities 
  4. in Global Markets. Deloitte. sciences-health-care/us-lshc-biosimilars-whitepaper.pdf 4. Berk, P., Gilbert, M., Herlant, M., Walter. G. (2013). Rethinking the Pharma Supply Chain: New 
  5. Models for a New Era. The Boston Consulting Group. rethinking-the-pharma-supply-chain-new-models-for-a-new-era.aspx 5. Davis, S., Kachinsky, C., Majure, K., Mazin, M., Subramanian, P., Vance, S., Young, C. & Bloom, B. 
  6. (2020). Insight: Covid-19 Disruption in Life Sciences Industry – Tax, Trade, Value Chain Considerations. Transfer Pricing Report. Bloomberg Tax. pricing/insight-covid-19-disruption-in-life-sciences-industry-tax-trade-value-chain-considerations 
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