A digital solution to scheduling and resource management

PlanDomino aims to bring efficiency to complex management systems in laboratories

 

As a former management consultant who helped companies to implement lean laboratory systems, Greg Heaslip was acutely aware of the mismatch that existed between capacity and resources in many labs. It’s a worldwide problem and in November 2017 Heaslip stepped in to solve it with the launch of PlanDomino, a digital scheduling platform aimed at improving lab efficiency in pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturers and contract laboratories.

“Our lean platform automates the grouping of samples, scheduling, workflows and resource management and makes labs more efficient by ramping productivity and capacity,” says Heaslip who has worked for some of the biggest names in the pharma sector including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Proctor & Gamble and GlaxoSmithKline.

Heaslip says his clients had been asking for a digital solution to scheduling and resource management for some time but there was nothing available. This is largely because the pharmaceuticals industry is under digitised due to heavy regulation. However, with the sector now gearing up for Industry 4.0 this is beginning to change and PlanDomino’s launch is timely.

It is extremely intuitive and easy to set-up and change

Heaslip says the traditional paper-based management systems still widely used in the industry are difficult to set-up and difficult to change and update. They also struggle with complexity and if the people trained to implement them move on, there is often regression to the old ways of doing things with a loss of the productivity gains. Collating data from paper systems is also labour intensive.

 Tetris

“Our platform is based on visual resource management and the highly visual nature of the application makes an extremely complex work environment easy to manage,” Heaslip adds. “Rather than manipulating tables of data users simply drag and drop tests and blocks of time – a bit like playing a game of Tetris. It is extremely intuitive and easy to set-up and change.”

The PlanDomino platform also connects the laboratory to other functions through personalised dashboards and notifications. For example, analysts can update their work on a touch screen as jobs are finished, key data is automatically collected and collated, tests are automatically dropped into work lanes and non-test activities such as safety audits can also be managed through the system. A key highlight of the platform is its queuing system. By grouping samples together for the same test labs only initiate runs when they are at full capacity. This results in up to 55 per cent less time spent testing and a big increase (up to 120 per cent) in available analyst time.

PlanDomino is in test mode at the moment with its pilot due to finish in January

The company has spent about €130,000 to date with an additional €50,000 set aside for testing. The trials are being funded under an EU SME programme while the rest has come from personal investment and support from the NDRC. The revenue model is SaaS and Heaslip’s goal is to capture a slice of the €600 million European and US lab market. PlanDomino is based at The Portershed innovation hub in Galway.

 Test mode

PlanDomino, which is Industry 4.0 compatible, is in test mode at the moment with its pilot due to finish in January. “Once the trials are completed we will publish the results, refine the platform and starting actively communicating with potential clients. Fortunately, we already have several global pharma and biotech companies showing interest,” Heaslip says. “We are lucky to have many of the world’s top pharma and biotech manufacturers based in Ireland so we will be targeting those closest to home first. Ultimately though, we are going after US- and EU-based manufacturers.

“Our main competition comes from paper and excel-based systems and digitising the process will greatly improve the productivity and capacity of in-house QC, R&D and raw materials and microbiology laboratories. Contract laboratories will also be interested in the platform because it will boost their ability to deliver more services with the same resources,” Heaslip says.

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