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Image of computer screens for an article about software that automates lab processes.
Published On: December 8th, 2020

Laboratory automation software is becoming more efficiently utilized and powerful, which drives it to be an essential tool in many labs. Lab software that automates routine tasks, data management, and resource handling can reduce human error and improve productivity. These benefits not only improve the immediate performance of the lab but also open new opportunities in research.Choosing the right liquid handling or laboratory scheduling software can be challenging, especially with the numerous options available in the market. Read on to learn more about how to choose the right software to automate your lab processes.

Consider Whether You can Automate Your Current Processes

Before selecting an automation software package, you need to determine whether you have efficient processes in place that are worth automating. Flawed pre-analytical processes account for the largest percentage of lab errors and won’t be fixed simply by automating a marginal manual method.

Therefore, you should first optimize and validate your workflow manually to avoid the need to reconfigure your processes after you’ve automated them. Make sure every member of your team is trained and comfortable with the workflow before automating.

Discuss with your service provider to understand how any new software that automates your lab will work and whether it will meet your requirements.

Consider the Compatibility with Existing Instruments

Compatibility between your instruments and the new automation software is crucial. After all, you wouldn’t want to install a laboratory scheduling software that isn’t compatible with your existing systems. If your lab has multiple components like robots or LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) supplied by several vendors, check compatibility with the software you consider.

Keep in mind that if you need to upgrade your existing platform before adopting the new software, it could entail additional costs. Therefore, be sure to consider several software options and consult your vendors to find a suitable system for your lab that meets all your “must-have” requirements. You can also speak with counterparts from other labs with software that automates their processes and get their recommendation.

Think About Your Lab’s Long-Term Needs

Whether you’re looking for sample management or laboratory scheduling software, think about how it fits in with your lab’s long-term needs.

Will you expand your operations beyond what the automation software is capable of handling? If so, look for a system that you can upgrade in the future. Most software that automates lab processes can be reconfigured to handle more samples and apparatus to keep up with your increasing capacity.

Think about what new workflows you may be required to develop and what instruments to support those workflows you might adopt in the future, and make sure the system you’re getting now can be adapted accordingly. To ensure that the software can serve you long term, look for a financially stable supplier, has high-quality technical support, a good warranty and support plans, and ease of use.

Other Factors to Consider

Other than the steps listed above, other factors that you should consider before choosing the right software for your lab are listed below.

  • Will there be any downtime while you transition to the new software, and how will it affect your lab? If you’re installing the new software along with new automated equipment, there may be significant disruption, and you might need to reorganize your lab layout.
  • Ensure the software you choose complies with any regulatory requirements, such as 21 CFR Part 11 compliance.
  • Check that the software provides traceability so you can keep track of the work, sample, and staff in the lab. Recording date for an audit trail is often a lifesaver, even when not strictly required.
  • Consider the ease of maintenance, setup cost, and any on-going licensing costs.
  • Consider the learning curve for automation software. Does the vendor provide training? How many hours of training does your staff need to learn how to use it?

Getting software that automates processes in the lab will undoubtedly increase your productivity and drive costs down in the long term. By following the steps highlighted above, you can ensure that you select the right software to support your lab’s long term needs.

To learn more about software that automates lab processes, contact Hudson Robotics.