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Image of microplate and robot for an article about how to choose a microplate handling system.
Published On: November 17th, 2020

The creation of the microplate in the 1950s sped up analyzing multiple samples, and soon after, the use of multi-channel pipettes made things even more efficient. In the 1990s, automated microplate handling systems allowed large-scale life science labs to ramp up productivity and progress in their specialized areas.In current times, these systems are no longer as capital-consuming as they once were, and even smaller labs can benefit from their use.

Read on for some important things to consider when choosing a microplate robot or handling system for a laboratory.

The Features Required For Optimal Workflow

Every life science lab has its own workflow for different processes, and documenting the manual process before choosing a microplate handling system is a critical step.

Once the workflow is documented, the type of microplate robot needed to speedily and efficiently carry out the process will be clearer.

Some questions to ask before choosing (for example, to carry out ELISA) include:

  • What type of ELISA microplates are currently used in the lab? Can the system chosen be taught to adjust its functions according to the microplates used?
  • How many microplates should the system be able to access, stack, or store at any given time, i.e. the batch size?
  • What daily or weekly throughput is required?
  • Can the microplate handling system be easily reprogrammed if the workflow changes?
  • Should the system be able to print barcodes and label the ELISA microplates used?

Microplate Compatibility with Other Instruments

With different workflows also comes a variety of different instrumentation. Whichever microplate handling system the lab operates needs to be able to support a large array of instrument interfaces—including liquid handlers, microplate washers, incubators, bar code readers, and more.

Since instruments can come from different manufacturers, it is important to check if the installed system is compatible with the instruments currently being used in the lab. This is especially crucial if the lab plans on only using existing instruments moving forward.

Laboratory Size and Space Availability

Microplate handling systems and robots come in various sizes, and the amount of space available to house them is an important thing to ascertain when selecting a system. It is best to measure the available space in the lab after exempting pre-existing structures before choosing the most suitable microplate handling system.

There are many lean microplate handling systems available; for example, the Protean™ Workcell does away with a tabletop and instead, utilizes vertical interface options to conserve space while handling ELISA microplates other types of microplates seamlessly.

After-Sales Service

Even if a system works exceptionally well, there may be times when lab staff need further help with setup or when something doesn’t function as intended. This is why after-sales service should be a top priority when choosing a microplate handling system. Check on the provider’s after-sales service’s reputation before finalizing the purchase.

Getting a microplate handling robot or system installed in the laboratory is an exciting time; think of all the productivity levels that can be achieved and the workforce hours that can be saved. However, to make the experience one that meets expectations, choose the system carefully by considering the above aspects.

Hudson Robotics provides a wide range of microplate handling systems designed to help life science labs big and small meet their needs.

Contact us to schedule a demo or to learn more.