lab worker uses barcode scanner to catalogue rack of blood samples with purple caps in front of computer

Regain Control with a Lab Inventory System

Adding equipment, software tools and members to the team are exciting parts of lab growth, but excitement can wane as lab members realize that inventory management did not keep pace. In many cases, labs are using low-tech options such as Excel spreadsheets or disparate paper-based systems to manage their lab inventory. These approaches confound as each lab manager creates their own unique way of managing inventory, resulting in redundant purchases and an excess of lab materials. Or worse — running out of vital inventory, leading to a significant disruption in lab operations.

Lab inventory management systems address these challenges by helping labs transition from a diverse array of paper clipboards and spreadsheets to a centralized and ordered system. All of this makes it easier to locate and track a wide variety of lab inventory, such as specimens, clinical samples, cultures and culture media, collection kits, protective gear, and chemicals and buffers.


Contents: What Are They? | Key Features | The Challenge


What Are Lab Inventory Systems?

Lab inventory systems are software tools used to track and manage materials and supplies within a laboratory, ensuring organization and accessibility of resources. These systems are built to improve lab efficiency, allow accurate stock control, forecast future usage, prevent waste, and maintain regulatory requirements and accountability. 

How Do They Help?

Lab inventory systems address common issues that labs encounter. For labs using Excel templates for their inventory management, these systems can address problems like manual data entry errors, accidental cell or file deletions, minimal permissions control, lack of concurrent entry, and little to no integration with other data sources. For those still working in pen and paper notebooks or other low-tech solutions, system adopters have a lot to gain. A few key motivators are the ability to centralize storage information, allow digital access from any lab space or office, automate entries, and speed up inventory tracking and data entry. 


Key Features and Capabilities

Some lab inventory systems are more flexible than others, with the more robust systems offering a wide range of control over permissions. Many systems allow fields to be customized to specific lab requirements, and integrate easily with assay data, sample management, and electronic lab notebooks. If some of these options seem extraneous, there are still essentials to any lab inventory system that you should look for as you consider adopting a new software choice.

Essentials of Lab Inventory Systems

  • Creating unique IDs for reagents (both by barcode and human-readable naming)
  • Tracking and management of storage information for convenient findability
  • Reports on remaining amounts of supplies for quick ordering
  • Expiration date notifications
  • Alerts that notify you when items are running low
  • Integration with workflow tools to standardize processes


The Lab Inventory Challenge

Inadequate inventory control in a lab causes redundancy, confusion and decreased efficiency in lab operations. This can potentially lead to problems like financial loss, project delays, compliance issues, and loss of samples and data. To avoid these consequences, labs should take proactive steps towards exploring and investing in an effective lab inventory system. Embracing modern solutions is key to aligning laboratory inventory management with laboratory growth.

Learn more about Lab Inventory Management

Lab Inventory Management: Take Control of Your Lab Supplies

Learn more

Getting Started with Lab Inventory Tracking

Learn more

We asked lab managers… What do you love most about Sample Manager?

Learn more