Increasing Facility Efficiency with the iLab Kiosk and Interlock Use Tracking Modules

Have you ever wondered how to significantly enhance the efficiency and management of your facility's resources? One practical approach is improving the tracking of instrument use. Recognizing this need, iLab has developed two tracking solutions – the Kiosk and Interlock modules – to help facilities achieve this goal. 

These solutions provide intuitive tracking of instrument use, a critical aspect for facilities administrators aiming to boost operational efficiency and revenue. By incorporating these modules into your daily operations, you can create a seamless and secure operating environment, enhancing the user experience and administrative efficiency. 

iLab Kiosk and Interlock Modules Overview 

The Kiosk and Interlock modules are integral components of the iLab system, designed to enhance billing and reporting accuracy by tracking instrument use within a core facility. 

  • Kiosk: The Kiosk module serves as a standalone station, enabling users to log in and manage their reservations for equipment use. It operates independently, allowing for straightforward equipment use tracking within the core. This module provides a user-friendly interface where users can begin and conclude their reservations, ensuring precise recording of use times for accurate billing.

     iLab Kiosk module

  • Interlock: The Interlock module functions as an advanced electronic control system, either through hardware or software, to regulate access to equipment within the core. It acts as an electronic "lock," ensuring only authorized users can operate the designated equipment. Unlike the Kiosk, the Interlock is not a standalone solution. It requires integration with the Kiosk module, facilitated through a secure connection via the iLab Bridge.      

Using the iLab Kiosk for Tracking 

Operating on an "honor system," the Kiosk doesn't enforce user login for equipment use. One of the advantages of using Kiosk is that it allows users to begin existing or walk-up reservations and accurately log their use times. 

At no additional cost and implemented on a core-by-core basis within an institution, the iLab Kiosk module offers a user-friendly, kiosk-style computer interface, enabling facilities to monitor equipment use and streamline the confirmation and billing processes, as it records "scheduled" and "actual logged" times. 

Advanced Use Control with the iLab Interlock  

The iLab Interlock module enhances equipment management through either hardware or software solutions, connected via the secure iLab Bridge.  

  • Software Interlock: This variant controls access to specific instrument software, integrating iLab's Scheduling and Calendar features with the Equipment Kiosk interface and a third-party software access solution. To implement the Software Interlock, the facility must purchase a K2-KeyServer server license from Sassafras and individual licenses for each piece of equipment. 

     iLab Schematic of Software interlock components

  • Hardware Interlock: Focusing on controlling power to critical equipment components, typically the monitor, the Hardware Interlock uses network-enabled devices to remotely manage standard 110 V outlets or dry electric switches. The operation of this module is dictated by specific rules and policies configured within the iLab system. These include verifying if a user has received training on the equipment, ensuring a valid reservation exists, and checking the current availability of the resource to prevent overlapping use.

     iLab Interlock Setup - Network Diagram

  • iLab Bridge: The iLab Bridge is a compact network device, configured by the iLab Engineering team that facilitates communication between the iLab server and the interlock devices. While not requiring external visibility, the bridge must be connected to your internal subnet and capable of initiating an SSH (Secure Shell) connection to the iLab server, establishing a secure and efficient connection between your organization's network and the iLab servers. This is important as interlock devices are often situated within a protected network segment to prevent unauthorized access.  

Enhancing Operational Excellence with iLab's Kiosk and Interlock Modules  

In summary, integrating iLab's Kiosk and Interlock modules represents a significant advancement in managing facility resources. These modules not only streamline the tracking and billing process for equipment use but also ensure a higher level of security and compliance with facility policies. Whether used independently or in conjunction, the Kiosk and Interlock modules offer a flexible, user-friendly solution that can be tailored to the unique needs of each facility. By providing tracking capabilities and secure access control, these modules play a pivotal role in optimizing facility operations, enhancing the accuracy of administrative processes, and ultimately contributing to resource management's overall efficiency and effectiveness in research and institutional environments. 

For a comprehensive understanding of these modules, see the article Overview of Kiosk and Interlock published on the iLab Help Site. 

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