eLabBlog

eLabNext brings sample and inventory management to the next level with the release of its new inventory system

By eLabNext 5 min read 31 May 2024

Gone are the days of manual stocktaking and spreadsheet juggling in many laboratories. With the natural evolution of laboratory digitalisation, over 60.000 scientists now rely on eLabNext to manage their complete lab inventory in their day-to-day operations. As the use of the eLabNext platform has grown, we have received a tremendous amount of feedback and suggestions from our customers on how to enhance and extend the usability and functionality of eLabNext’s inventory management system. Following an extensive development phase during which we undertook a complete overhaul of inventory system, we rolled out a beta version to our customers in 2023. This pivotal move has enabled us to gather invaluable insights, paving the way for a broader release aimed at elevating the industry’s premier inventory management system to even greater heights of excellence.

In this blog post, we’re diving into the key features and improvements we’ve incorporated into our new inventory management system. We’ll also share our plans for future updates and refinements to enhance its functionality further.

Breaking down the Features and Enhancements

This new inventory system incorporates some of the most highly requested features, improvements, and enhancements submitted by our customers. Here are the top 10 new features:

1. Enhanced Overall User Interface and Usability

Get a detailed look at the top 10 improvements with the recent Inventory Update and future plans.

The new inventory system has been fully reworked based on our new UX/UI standards to enhance the overall look, feel, and usability of the module. These changes also align with expectations set for modern software accessibility compliance, according to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

2. Flexible Three-column Panels

Among the most requested improvements was the ability to visualise compartment and sample information on the same page. To address this, we’ve introduced a third panel that opens next to the compartment view, allowing users to easily view information on any sample within a compartment. Users can now also expand and collapse panels and customise the width of each panel according to their preferences.

3. Enhanced Usability for Moving Samples

In line with the modernisation of software tools, we’ve introduced a more intuitive way to organise your sample boxes. We’ve incorporated options for selecting multiple samples at once, allowing users to move samples through drag-and-drop to a different position within the box.

4. Collapsible Sample Series

Sample series can now be expanded within the sample list to easily visualise and manage the sample stocks that are part of a series. This functionality enables users to perform bulk actions on parts of the sample stocks within a series.

5. Group-shared and Customisable Views

Throughout the inventory, users can choose which data columns to display by adjusting the view. The width of columns can easily be adjusted to customise the table view according to the user’s content and preferences.  Once a custom view is saved, it can be shared across all sample lists throughout the inventory. Additionally, these saved views can now also be shared with other users in the group, enhancing collaboration and consistency.

6. Improved Visualisation of Compartments and Bulk Actions Support

We have enhanced the overall visualisation of compartments and their properties. Users can now view compartment properties directly from the inventory browser, including limits, storage capacity, and the status of compartments when assigned to users or shared. Furthermore, users can perform bulk actions, such as printing labels or moving compartments, on multiple compartments at a time.

7. New Export Options for Samples

New extended options for exporting samples have been introduced. Users can now directly export lists of samples based on their selected list view. Supported export formats include PDF, Excel, and CSV, making it easier to share and analyse data outside the platform.

8. Sample and Location Selection

Addressing feedback about inefficiencies, we’ve improved the process of linking samples to experiments or other samples by allowing users to search for and select multiple samples before linking. Location selection has been enhanced for adding samples as sample series, through batch import, or when cloning, by enabling the selection of multiple locations if the created sample batch size exceeds available space in a compartment.

9. Full Compatibility with Our API and SDK

The inventory system is fully based on our API and compatible with our Software Development Kit (SDK). Most add-ons have been adjusted to ensure full compatibility with the new inventory system. This allows users and partners to more easily utilise eLabNext Developer, our API, and SDK to build, test, and release add-ons to the marketplace.

10. Other Improvements and Enhancements

  • Enabled the option to enter a reason when archiving samples.
  • Added the option to display the full location path in sample lists.
  • Introduced the option to add a sample to the created series when cloning into a sample series.
  • Reworked reservations as Assignments for Storage Units and Bookings for Equipment.
  • Change owner function is now available as a sample action button.
  • Tasks linked to samples are now displayed in a separate tab.
  • Status icons for assigned, shared, and validation required on equipment and storage units.
  • The number of samples that can be imported has increased to 400.
  • Improved flow for adding samples to multiple locations when adding a sample series, either through cloning or regular addition.

Continued Development on Inventory Management

The major updates to the inventory system lay the foundation for further enhancements that we have planned for eLabNext in the coming years. We will continue to refine and improve our other existing inventory-related functionalities, including the Sample Archive, Advanced Search, Storage Units and Equipment, and our Supplies and Ordering System. Our goal is to ensure a fully seamless, consolidated, and flexible sample and inventory management experience for any R&D laboratory. Additionally, we are committed to delivering some of the most requested features by our customers, such as:

  • Integration of equipment into the Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN).
  • Email notifications for expired samples or equipment requiring validation.
  • Support for setting multiple parents for a sample.
  • Cloning samples to a different sample type.
  • Changing the sample type for an existing sample.
  • Bulk cloning of samples.
  • Enhanced stock tracking and reordering.
  • Improved inventory searchability, filtering, and reporting.
  • Sharing of samples across groups and limiting access to samples within those groups.

If you have any questions about the feature improvements, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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