Advancements in laboratory procedures and technology have helped researchers make discoveries while saving time and cost. A significant contributor to this is the use of automation software. Solutions like decision tracking software and lab scheduling software can automate various tasks, from customizing workflows to collecting and analyzing data.
What is Lab Automation?
Total lab automation involves utilizing software that automates robots and instruments to perform highly repetitive tasks in the laboratory. It consolidates the control of various instruments to only several or a single operator (the automation software), which reduces testing time and costs.
With lab testing now focusing on a high-volume, instrument-centric approach, labs that take advantage of software that automates their processes and data collection can improve their productivity and keep up with the rest of the industry. For instance, automation software can save time by automating the pre-analytical phase, which takes up about 60% of a workflow’s time.
What Can Lab Automation Software Do?
Current software is not only limited to running test workflows and recording data. Instead, it can customize every parameter of a workflow, run multiple test stages simultaneously, and log complete data audit trails. Below are some common features of lab automation software:
- Includes software plug-ins for integrating various instruments into your lab workflow. For instance, the SoftLinx Lab Automation Software can integrate over 200 instruments from different manufacturers.
- Able to create customized complete assay protocols. You can define the timing and parameters of each wash, shake, dispense, incubation, plate movement, and other details in the protocol.
- Laboratory scheduling software can determine the most efficient way to perform complex protocols and automatically run processes. Depending on the state of the system, the software can deploy available instruments to maximize productivity.
- It allows the user to have real-time control of the entire testing workflow. With software that automates lab processes, you can view multiple protocols and start, pause or stop them.
Types of Lab Automation Software
Many lab automation systems integrate functions from different automation software packages to thoroughly manage and keep track of research data and workflows. Here are some common types of software you can use in the lab.
- Lab scheduling software can handle everything from designing and running laboratory workflows to scheduling tests and protocols. Besides manually scheduling the instruments yourself, you can set rules that allow the software to automate your instruments to run optimally without constant human monitoring.
- Lab information management systems (LIMS) are software designed to primarily record and manage the research data for a lab. It can track sample information, consumables, instrument maintenance, the operator’s name, and more.
- Automated liquid handling software manages the automation of liquid handling instruments, such as an automated pipetting machine. You can use it to create, edit and run methods for pipetting or reagent dispensing. While liquid handling software can be used standalone, most vendors do have the option of integrating it with other software such as laboratory scheduling software.
As labs increasingly work with more samples, they need automated instruments and software to handle day-to-day operations.
The right automation software will help labs automate workflows and track and analyze data, thus reducing human error and increasing efficiency.
Contact Hudson Robotics today for a wide range of lab equipment and automation software.