Dr Thomas Chai Min Sen, Senior Director, Communication, Mathematics
and the Sciences Cluster, Singapore Polytechnic, Singapore
Shimadzu (Asia Pacific) Pte Ltd interviewed Dr Thomas CHAI Min Sen, Senior Director, Communication, Mathematics and the Sciences Cluster, Singapore Polytechnic (SP), and his team during their visit to our offices on the occasion of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Singapore Polytechnic’s (SP) School of Chemical and Life Sciences (CLS). The intent of this MoU is to co-create an environment and infrastructure that facilitate training programmes for students and local workforce serving in Future Laboratories - the SMART (Scalable Manageable Automated Regulated Total-Compliance) Lab.
When did Singapore Polytechnic (SP) / School of Chemical and Life Sciences (CLS) adopt Shimadzu's technologies and products and for what purposes?
Shimadzu is a global brand name, and most of its products can be commonly found in laboratories of companies as well as those in government agencies and educational institutions. Moreover, Shimadzu is known for its dedication in scientific excellence, where it has the expertise and innovation to manufacture a wide range of instruments that cater to the needs of users from various industries. The types of lab instruments that we have acquired over the years have certainly benefitted our students, staff and industrial stakeholders. Over the past 24 years, we manage to procure lab instruments that cater to the training needs of our students, and the professional development of staff. Besides, such exposure on advanced technologies will give our students that extra edge over their peers from other institutions, and get them ready for their future workplace.
Can you recollect any specific incidence from your life in which Shimadzu's technologies and products were particularly helpful to address specific issues?
I do recall an incident that I have experienced at my previous workplace many years ago. I was then serving a petrochemical company, and there was a gap to bridge whenever we try to integrate all sources of laboratory data in the plant. Productivity was poor as there were many staff handling different sets of data gathered from different laboratories. As a project engineer, one of my job scopes was to assess how these data could be incorporated together. Moreover, we are not talking about working with one particular team of staff, but a larger community in the refinery. Hence, at that juncture, it would be wonderful to have a system that helps to integrate those data.
What features & benefits of Shimadzu's technologies and products do you personally like the most?
The ability to operate lab instruments remotely through the use of smart devices such as mobile devices or tablets. These smart features help users in raising productivity in labs and producing quality work with total compliance as well as reducing the frequency of exposure to hazardous chemicals. These new features enable students to perform real time analysis, and their primary focus should be working on data analytics, and not on the performance of instrument. Furthermore, Shimadzu instruments play an important role in transiting laboratories to go paper-less and PC-free. Moreover, their graphical user interface (GUI) has improved over the years, and it is relatively easy to use.
How will the 'real industry experience' attained by the students in the SP-Shimadzu SMARTLab help them in their careers?
We want to make sure that the content of the training is current and relevant, and students are work-ready. Hence, the SMARTLab initiative will give them the exposure and experience to operate instruments through advanced systems. Besides, they would know how to utilize the instruments with the knowledge and training that they have received in SP. We are pleased to have this opportunity to partner with companies like Shimadzu to turn SMARTLab into reality.
Do you have any technology or product related wish list that you would want Shimadzu to incorporate in the future?
We have students who prefer learning through the use of technology such as simulations. It would be great if Shimadzu has something that we call a "virtual demo", a "digital twin" or a "dynamic simulation". This is a pre-Lab activity that the students have to do before they get their hands busy on the instruments and system. Hence, through pre-Lab activity, the students can get familiarised with the instruments and system by practicing through e-platforms such as virtual demo/ digital twin/ dynamic simulation. Besides, the students will have undisrupted learning experience, and they are not afraid to make mistakes on virtual mode.
From our standpoint on SMARTLab, we would like our students and staff to learn more on the latest advanced technologies from Shimadzu on areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) interaction. We would request for more training opportunities on the latest advanced technologies in laboratory. From the perspective of using disruptive technology to operate and manage lab system, products such as LabSolutions CS and CaliberLIMS will be handy and helpful in the training of our students and staff. Besides, they will learn that although there are many instruments of different brands and functions, they can link them up and control them with a single software. The knowledge on latest innovations and being at technological front will certainly give our students the confidence and drive to become future industry leaders and influencers.
In addition, it would be wonderful if Shimadzu can include the feature of multi-channel notification, such as auto-sending Phone SMS and email to users. This is a method to notify user(s) on completion of analysis or any error messages incurred etc. Such multi-channel notifications will be handy and critical in situations where an immediate response is needed from the user(s).
Do you have any concluding statements?
Before embarking on this journey of establishing the SMARTLab, we would like to say that we are fortunate to find Shimadzu as a partner who can cater to the training needs of our students and staff.
Singapore Polytechnic And Shimadzu Join Hands To Create First-Of-Its-Kind SMARTLab
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