It’s that time of year when your leadership team will start performing 2020 budget planning. You may be considering a liquid handler for your team or you may be thinking bigger and want a robotic solution. Whichever solution is the best fit for you, we suggest you consider all aspects as you do not want to automate one portion of your process and create a bottleneck in another.
Below you will find four points to consider when planning for lab automation.
Approach: Automation comes in many shapes and sizes, from large and complex monolithic systems to arrays of smaller systems working together to accomplish a unified task. The selection of the appropriate approach to automation should be driven by a deep understanding of how your lab works today, how automation will change that work, and how likely it is that these workflows and conditions may change. Different approaches yield different results, so rooting your automation strategy in a deep understanding of your practices and desired outcomes is critical to make sure your goals are accomplished.
Flexibility: How much if any flexibility will you need? In answering this question, we recommend you consider three points. First, how much do you expect your research to evolve over the coming years. Second, how much might future technology impact your automated system. Third, how important is it for your system to be able to accommodate your answers to the first two questions. It is quite possible to configure automated scientific processes to anticipate change and adjustment, but if you do not make this a requirement, you may likely end up with something purpose-built for today’s needs but unable to adapt for tomorrow.
Data handling: Automated systems are powerful data factories, producing significant amounts of information that will drive new analytical workloads. Whether you consider this at the start of your project or a few years into your automation project, eventually you will need to have a firm view on how to provide data to and from the system, and how its information output will be digested. Over and over, we have seen organizations focus heavily on ensuring their automation system has the maximum potential output, while overlooking what will happen with the output itself.
Partnership: There are many suppliers that provide lab automation solutions to the life science market. When considering automation, you should really ask yourself are you looking for a vendor or a partner. A vendor sells you something. A partner works with you to understand your needs now and in the future, your project goals and your organization’s expectations. If you find your required solution is simple, then choosing a vendor may be your choice. If you’re unsure about your approach, requirements, or goals, then a partner may be a preferred option for you and your team.
If these points are of any assistance to you, then please feel free to contact HighRes to discuss potential solutions during your 2020 budget planning cycle firstname.lastname@example.org.