DOE Human Genome Program Contractor-Grantee
154. A Simulation Extension of a Workflow-based LIMS
Gary Lindstrom, T. Richard Bogart, Peter Cartwright, and William Delaney
Cimarron Software, Inc. 175 S. West Temple St. Suite 530, Salt Lake City, 84101
High throughput molecular biology laboratories critically depend upon cost effective management of complex workflows, including systematic planning and optimization of resource utilization. This SBIR Phase II project is developing simulation software that models performance of laboratory workflows under varying scenarios. The software is unique in that it derives its workflow model and configuration parameters from the real laboratory workflow, as managed by its operational LIMS, and can deliver concrete guidance for optimized performance of the real workflow. Broadly speaking, there are two principal insights to be gained by "what if" experiments using the simulator. The first is capacity analysis, whereby resource deployment plans and policies can be investigated for their effect on overall laboratory productivity. Secondly, relative priorities of competing projects in the laboratory workflow can be assessed for their aggregate impact on individual project milestones. For example, suppose a laboratory manager is asked to take on the production demands of an additional project. By simulation studies, the manager can quantitatively assess the new project's impact on deadline fulfillment for existing projects. Similarly, the consequences of adjusting priorities for a current project mix can be quantified. The decisions resulting from these investigations can be deployed to laboratory operations in the form of task selection rules guiding batch selection at each station in the workflow. The simulator models detailed properties and management policies concerning all laboratory durable resources. Examples of the latter include laboratory instruments, staff, and computer processes, with accurate modeling of capacities, functional capabilities, and availability cycles -- both scheduled (shifts, maintenance) and unscheduled (break down and repair). Modeling of non durable resources, e.g., consumables such as reagents, is another possibility. Customers of Cimarron Software are helping shape and evaluate the simulation system, which is expected to be commercially available early in 2001.
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