Life science laboratories are filled with high-knowledge staff members who perform complex actions that rely on human intuition, dexterity and an expert knowledge of equipment and science. Automation tools have revolutionized the day to day operation of laboratories since the introduction of early liquid handling devices and adoption of high density labware formats. But moving beyond workstation based, liquid handling driven automation into highly integrated whole-process automation with collaborative robotics opens up a wealth of new improvements in efficiency, cost reduction, and speed of discovery. Modern laboratories are implementing these tools at an exponential rate, driving the next generation of research and development.
This automation brings great value and utility to the laboratory setting. Every laboratory workflow relies to some extent upon repeating physical tasks to ensure the accuracy of lab results and findings. From automating liquid handling or the preparation and storage of samples, automation can bring increased efficiency, performance, and value to any lab workflow. The following are some benefits that teams can expect to see from implementing integrated lab automation.
- Reduced Risk of Human Error
Each laboratory contains equipment and samples that are fragile, complex, and often incredibly expensive. From large libraries of compounds, precious consumables, advanced centrifuges and storage units, your lab is full of equipment that can be adversely affected by a human error. Human error also doesn’t always refer to the carelessness that results in broken devices or a catastrophic loss of data. Even small human errors, such as mislabeling a sample or incorrectly measuring a liquid can have a cascade of serious negative effects on a lab’s findings.
By introducing integrated automation across your workflows, you can cut down on the risk of human error and improve the consistency and accuracy of your experiments and the transfer of samples between different devices. Your automation can perform the same task thousands of times without compromising accuracy or precision.
- Devices and Equipment Integrated Under a Single System
Automating your lab workflows and processes also gives you the opportunity to integrate your many different devices under a single system. Because automation requires that your different workflows operate in concert with each other, it cultivates a level of unity among your equipment.
Using automated workflows, your team can control diverse equipment such as liquid handlers, incubators or readers under a unified platform, greatly improving its usability and accessibility for your team. Integrating your devices also allows you to view them through a single dashboard, making it much easier to track results and key performance indicators and metrics.
- Decrease Experiment and Project Cycle Times
One of the constant limiting factors of any experiment is time. No lab has an infinite amount of time to perform their experiments. Instead, they must prioritize which experiments will be performed in the time that they have available. This can be further complicated by multi-step experiments that require different amounts of time to complete each step.
Integrated Automation is a highly effective way for laboratories to reduce the amount of time and resources that an experiment might require. For example, a lab workflow which requires many different steps has ample opportunities for wasted time between each completed step. A human team member is not able to eliminate the turn-around time that can occur between the time a step is started and when the results are available.
Within an integrated workflow though, robots can quickly detect when an experiment’s steps are completed and can automatically move towards the next step. When these processes are automated, each step is immediately performed the moment the preceding step is completed, greatly decreasing the amount of time that an experiment takes to finish. And through parallelizing tasks – robotics can ensure that all devices are utilized to the maximum, meaning minimal downtime and greater ROI from expensive tools.
And of course, robotic systems can perform tasks out of hours, throughout the night and weekends, meaning your lab can be a productive data factory at all times.
- Assay Uniformity and Tracking
Automation, paired with carefully designed workflows, can ensure all assays are performed uniformly – so you can have absolute confidence that all your samples are treated in exactly the same way – removing any questions around operator variability or intra- and inter-laboratory reproducibility of results. With constant tracking of every step performed, and every sample analyzed, an integrated system never misses a step and produces a complete audit trail and chain of custody for even the most complex workflows.
How HighRes Bio Can Help
With our deep experience and expertise in integrated laboratory automation, our team of engineers, developers and scientists is will equipped to handle your project. Our hardware and software solutions are built to last, and our staff is always available to walk you through extensive consultations for your projects and implementations. We believe in fostering strong, long-term partnerships with all our clients to guarantee present and future success.