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Ahead of the Curve.

Hudson Robotics – May 2012 Newsletter

Hudson Robotics equipment

Welcome to Hudson Robotics’ 2012

This is our first Newsletter of 2012. While we would normally have had several by this time of year, we have instead spent the first quarter of 2012 completely re-vamping our website. We have tried to make it more useful to customers and to those seeking answers to life science automation questions. I hope those of you who browse the new site will agree. In fact, the articles in this Newsletter will bring the reader into the new website, and you can judge for yourself how well we’ve succeeded.

Applications, Not Just Automation

2011 was a great year for Hudson, resulting in the highest sales levels in our history. But more importantly to our customers, and to Hudson’s future, the arrival of 2012 marked a shift in emphasis from promoting generic automated laboratory workcells and individual automation instruments, to providing pre-developed solution workcells that are critical to many fundamental tasks in future life science research.   Our goal is to make it easy for researchers to take that “first step” into automating these applications. This is achieved by providing demonstrated solutions to increasing the performance of their labs in specific types of processes. As well, experienced users of lab automation will find Hudson’s new solutions to be incredibly easy to use and very economical.  
 

Partners in 2012

We have joined with several business partners, bringing their particular areas of expertise into these specialized workcells.


We have joined with Promega Corporation to provide an easy to use, entry level automated solution for their kinase assay kits built around Hudson’s SOLO multi-channel robotic pipettor and new Guided Operation (GO) Wizards for SoftLinx.  

Together with BioRad Laboratories, Hudson will be offering an automated, real-time PCR workcell that combines BioRad’s CFX real-time PCR detection system with automated sample prep and fully scheduled operation.  

We have developed an automated solution for Bioo Scientific’s NEXTflex “next gen” DNA sequencing sample prep kits. Bioo Scientific has begun co-marketing this solution with Hudson, and we anticipate strong results in 2012 from this effort.  

One very popular “solution” workcell has been our RapidPick Colony-Picking Workcell, a collaboration between Hudson and Norgren Systems. It is the fastest and more accurate colony-picking solution available today, and Hudson has placed dozens of these workcells in laboratories around the world.  

Hudson has joined with Intellicyt to provide a fully automated sample prep and delivery system for Intellicyt’s HyperCyt flow cytometry auto-sampler and cytometer offering.  

Hudson has also tested and demonstrated the accuracy and practicality of using our SOLO robotic pipettor with Diffinity Genomics’ one-step PCR cleanup tip technology, and will soon be installing this at a key customer site on the East Coast.  
 

Tradition Lives On

“While our emphasis in outreach will be on pre-developed applications, Hudson still pursues our traditional business of providing lab automation solutions of nearly every scope. This range extends from simple single-instrument workcells to large, custom-designed automated systems. And, we also offer individual automation instruments, like our flagship PlateCrane or our SOLO Robotic Pipettor. Even if we don’t have the precise instrument or solution that would meet your immediate need, browsing Hudson’s website can provide you with ideas and insights into increasing the efficiency of your research in ways you may not have considered. I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at one of the many shows we’ll be attending in 2012.”  

Phil Farrelly, President Hudson Robotics.
 

Announcing the New RapidFlow; Flow Cytometry Automation from Hudson Robotics

Hudson Robotics has created new work cell solutions to automate the critical sample handling tasks required for high throughput flow cytometry. The fully integrated RapidFlow automated systems are designed to optimize workflow in the cytometry lab.  

Cytometry has long been considered the gold standard for High Content cell analysis. For more than 30 years, Cytometry has evolved into several different technologies: automated microcopy, High Content imaging system, and primarily Flow Cytometry.

The evolution of new fluorochromes, antibodies, lasers, and instrumentation has enabled Cytometry as a High Content Screening tool. Currently, all imaging systems and Flow Cytometers are capable of on-board sample loading, though this is limited to one microplate at a time. Manual plate loading is still required, creating a bottleneck for many labs seeking to process multiple plates.  

Sample preparation for cell analysis is equally cumbersome and time consuming. Cell processing, dispensing of cells into plates and the staining of those cells, requires a great deal of technician labor and time.  All preparation steps, including cell staining, cell washing, cell dispensing, and reagent dispensing, are currently performed manually in most labs.

Hudson’s RapidFlow workcell allows researchers to automate these preparation steps and couple them to fully automated cytometer operation.   For sample preparation, the RapidFlow employs Hudson’s SOLO Robotic Pipettor.   The SOLO provides a new level of precision cell and reagent dispensing into microplates.   The Micro10x provides bulk dispensing of buffers and fixation reagents across the entire plate.

Hudson’s expertise in integration allows the end user to incorporate third-party incubators, centrifuges, and other devices into the work cell process through SoftLinx scheduling software.   Plate handling to the Flow or Imaging Cytometry is controlled by the PlateCrane EX. Plates can be stored in either plate stacks, a plate hotel, or an environmentally controlled incubator, before delivery to the Cytometer.

Within the RapidFlow workcell, Hudson can also integrate a barcode reader, plate shaker, and other accessories necessary for an individual user’s cytometry workflow. All this is controlled by SoftLinx software.   Hudson Robotics can provide many levels of automation for the cytometry lab and integrate with all existing Flow and Imaging Cytometry platforms through the power of SoftLinx software.

Hudson’s SOLO Pipettor Ideal for Tube-to-Plate Transfers

The SOLO is the ideal robotic pipettor for several tube to microplate applications including setting up Real Time PCR reactions.  The SOLO provides a timesaving and process-improving option to manual pipetting when working with less than 96 samples up to 4 plates per run.   

Typically setting up a large liquid handling instrument for just one or two plates is time consuming and expensive.  Manual pipetting is also time consuming and can lead to mistakes.  The SOLO makes the process easy with a low cost, easy to use solution.   Tubes are racked (typically 24 to a rack) and put on the deck of the SOLO or if the tubes are tall, they are placed in one of the off-deck positions.  The SOLO will select 1 tip, then transfer the samples as defined in SOLOSoft operating software, to a microplate.  Tip touch, mixing and all advanced features are available with a mouse click.    SOLOSoft sets up the pipetting steps while SoftLinx, our powerful scheduling software, allows the user to create full run programs with multiple pipetting steps, error handling and email notification.  

The SOLO solution allows for work lists to be referenced in the software.  DNA samples can be brought to the desired concentration easily and without repetitive data entry. The system is flexible to accommodate over 200 third-party instruments as part of an automated work cell. When concentrations need to be determined, many spectrophotometers fit easily in the work envelope of the SOLO, facilitating rapid plate reads for use in normalization protocols.  

Many RTPCR applications require a serial dilution and the SOLO is specially suited for this task.  Our new GO Wizards guide the operator cleanly through setting up a serial dilution and the processing of a plate.  Maintaining your standards patterns and dilution factors are completed in just a few mouse clicks. See a video of serial dilution with the SOLO at: http://youtu.be/g4t1mblysoE  

Adding master mix or other reagents from tubes, troughs or microplates is quick and efficient. Although the multi tip SOLO has fixed positions, the software and system is flexible to run any number of tips as needed.

One client brought a specialized bacterial media trough that allowed access for only 3 pipette tips. Running the multi channel SOLO in 3 tip mode for this transfer and switching back to 12 tip mode for the remainder of the protocol made for a quick and simple integration.   The ease of use and unmatched flexibility make tube to microplate applications another perfect fit for the Hudson SOLO Automated Pipettor. Do you have a pipetting challenge and a down to earth budget? If so we would love to hear from you. Find out more at http://www.hudsonrobotics.com/products/liquid-handling/solo/

New Guided Operation (GO) Wizards Provide an Easy-to-Use Approach for Simplifying Benchtop Lab Automation

The implementation of laboratory automation can be a daunting task. Because of this, many laboratory scientists either continue to use manual instruments, learn the bare minimum about using automated instruments, or pay experts to do it for them.  
A Reagent screen from the ApoTox-Glo Multiplex Assay Wizard

A Reagent screen from the ApoTox-Glo Multiplex Assay Wizard

However, there are many situations in which scientists need to run protocols that are outside their area of expertise, but provide important supporting data. A good example would be various ADME-Tox profiling assays, which help determine the clinical potential of compounds with otherwise attractive properties.

Hudson has found a way to make this necessary task easy.   Hudson recently introduced the SOLO Wizard, the first member of our new Guided Operation (GO) technology in which users are shown a series of step-by-step directions on running a specific protocol on Hudson’s SOLO Robotic Pipettor. Upon completion, the Wizard automatically generates the required method files for the SOLO and the assay is run; the user never has to program the SOLO.

Several options are available to the user, such as the scale of the assay or the number of samples to be tested.   Our first Wizards, introduced at the recent SBS show in San Diego, support a number of cellular and biochemical assays available from Promega. After a user completes the Wizard, all of the microplates, reservoirs and disposable tips will be in their correct position, as well as all samples and reagents.   Each protocol contains a series of six screens:
  1. Introduction – Provides a summary of the protocol and the current step
  2. Plates – Indicates which plates to use and where to put them
  3. Reagents – Indicates where to put each chemical that applies to every well
  4. Samples – Where to put variable samples, controls and blanks
  5. SOLO – Reminds the user to verify the readiness of the pipettor
  6. Summary – Provides a review of all options selected by the user
The Wizard is implemented in Hudson’s SoftLinx lab automation control software as a “plug-in”, written in VBA. It is used in the same way SoftLinx’s instrument interface plug-ins are used. The Wizard is usually “dropped” into a SoftLinx Protocol as its first step. Upon completion, the Wizard creates the appropriate SOLOSoft file that is run by a SOLO’s “Run” method step later in the protocol.   Contact us and we’ll show you how to create a Wizard to support the protocols you run in your laboratory.

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