See all Posts
Image of microplate close-up and robot for artcile on microplate handling.
Published On: June 15th, 2021
Microplate handling systems can include any or all of the following robotics:

Choosing the right components to handle your microplate needs requires an understanding of the components and careful consideration to ensure you make the right decision for your laboratory, not just for today but for the future as well. To begin, make sure you understand what each component does, the number and sizes of microplates it can handle, and don’t forget to look at the software. The last thing you want is to spend thousands of dollars down the road on an IT technician needed to reprogram your equipment for changing needs. User-friendly software that you can program yourself with no specialized knowledge is ideal.

Read on to learn more about the microplate handling systems, their components, and features.

Can I Afford a Laboratory Automation System?

Maybe the better question is: “can you cannot afford not to automate?” While initial costs may appear prohibitive, many options are available.

A quick look at expenses down the road proves that laboratory automation saves money, improves staff health by limiting their exposure to potential biohazards, dramatically improves the consistency of results, and uses fewer reagents (due to smaller sample sizes) and the minimization of human error.

Every laboratory can afford to automate and enjoy the substantial benefits, regardless of size and budget.

The Components of a Microplate Handling System

Microplate Handlers

Microplate handlers are robots that can be fitted to move any standard format microplates, deep well plates, lidded plates, tip racks, reservoirs and much more. The robotic handler will then move the microplate into and out of other automated instruments such as microplate washers, reagent dispensers, and microplate readers, to name just a few.

Microplate Stackers

Microplate stackers are automated machines that are fantastic space savers, sin ce a stack of plates is the highest density storage approach. Microplates can be presented from one stack, processed, and returned to another stack. Entire stacks can them be moved to a large capacity incubator as the next step, for example. When the incubation time has elapsed, the stack can be moved back to the automated microplate stacker, the plates washed with a microplate washer, and restacked after finishing with the microplate washer,.

Barcode Labelers

The barcode labeling machine is one of your most critical pieces of machinery to allow automation to run smoothly. By printing barcodes on the microplates’ sides, other robotic devices can read the barcode and know exactly what needs to be done with that particular microplate. In this way, a microplate washer, for example, does not have to take every microplate in an entire set and apply the same reagents for the same amount of time.

Thanks to barcoding, different microplates can be processed under different conditions simultaneously. Most Laboratory Automation systems utilize a barcode system for tracking samples throughout the process.

Microplate Washers

Microplate washers are not like your dishwasher at home. Their purpose is not to leave your microplates sparkling clean. Instead, these washers are capable of performing gentle washes of cell cultures, protein arrays, cell washing, or protein arrays, as an example. Automated washers enable you to set the wash pressure, number of cycles, positioning of the wash and aspiration nozzles and give you fantastic control over the wash protocol.

With a microplate washer, each plate is handled consistently, allowing an increase in precision and a decrease in manual labor.

Microplate Readers

The importance of microplate readers is simply that you cannot automate without one. The automated assay lab must use a microplate reader in order to quantitate microplates.

Most laboratory research and testing results involve measuring biological, chemical, or physical changes in the samples being studied.

These results are obtained by measuring the fluorescence, luminescence, or absorption of various light reacting molecules or substrates added to the experimental samples.

A microplate reader measures these light changes precisely and uniformly, so your results are always accurate and precise. The role of human error is eliminated by automation with a reader.

Determining Your Laboratory Needs

Just as every laboratory is different, so is the variety of robotics that can combine to create the perfect laboratory automation system for your particular needs. Understanding what pieces of automated equipment you need, what functions it must perform, and ensuring a seamless integration of all automatic equipment are crucial considerations when choosing a microplate handling system.

For example, your microplate washer may need to perform specific functions based on your laboratory’s constant application of ELISAs, while another lab may need a microplate washer capable of gently washing adherent cells. Knowing what your needs are and matching those needs to the equipment specifications is something that requires you to work with experts in Lab Automation whose knowledge of your options is quite comprehensive.

Contact Hudson Robotics today to request a consultation, learn more about our Laboratory Automation Systems, including Microplate Washers, or see how we can help you with a host of automation options to meet all of your laboratory needs.