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Image of lab and robots for article on laboratory automation.
Published On: May 25th, 2021

Laboratory automation is one of the most important breakthroughs to occur in this century. As a result, Laboratory Automation has become more popular than ever and is increasingly becoming the norm for serious scientists everywhere. As the benefits continue to accrue and cost savings multiply, there are fewer reasons than ever why anyone should hesitate to look into laboratory automation solutions.Keep reading to learn exactly why the smartest labs are also the most automated.

What is Laboratory Automation?

When using the term “laboratory automation,” it means performing laboratory procedures and functions normally handled by lab technicians, with robotic machines capable of executing the same procedures and functions with little to no human intervention.

The term “laboratory automation” means performing laboratory procedures and functions, normally handled by lab technicians, with robotic machines capable of executing the same procedures and functions with little to no human intervention.

Laboratory automation can be as simple as providing assistance with a single step in a process, such as calculating results automatically. Single-step automation can help in the pre-analytic, analytical, or post-analytical stages. Increasingly common, however, is completely automated procedures, where a process such as an assay or DNA extraction or PCR is completed entirely by machines.

Why is Laboratory Automation Popular?

The increasing popularity of laboratory automation can be attributed to its catalog of benefits.

These include:

  • Faster experimental processing times
  • Reduction in waste
  • Reduction in the starting sample size required
  • Lower quantities of reagents and the resulting savings
  • Higher experimental throughput
  • Lower laboratory staffing costs
  • More free time for scientists and technicians to plan new experiments, review results, or perform specialized tasks
  • Increases in the reliability, precision, and accuracy of processes
  • Reduced errors rates
  • Improved lab safety (no technician exposure to biohazards or harmful chemicals)

Even labs with limited workloads benefit from automation through improved accuracy of results, fewer errors, smaller sample sizes, lower reagent quantities, and improved technician safety and time away from processing. Any size laboratory, regardless of workload, can benefit from automation.

How Much Space Does Total Laboratory Automation Require?

The amount of space total laboratory automation requires depends on your specific needs. For example, some labs may require multiple microplate stackers while others may be fine with one or even none. It is important to remember that while some people think of automation as a 3-story monster, when in reality, modern robotics and computers have made laboratory automation equipment much more compact.

Courtesy of Hudson Robotics

Just as every laboratory has different dimensions and configurations, a good lab automation solution meets your needs now and in the future and one which is flexible and compact enough to fit in any lab setting comfortably.

Whether you choose to procure your lab automation equipment slowly over time or convert to full automation in one shot, you will enjoy the benefits more laboratories are discovering from lab automation solutions every day.

Are Short-Term Costs Prohibitive to Laboratory Automation?

The short answer to short-term costs is no, and most labs do not find the cost of converting to automation to be problematic. One study found that while there was a modest cost to the initial equipment, this cost was very rapidly offset by an immediate decreased need for staff.

Ultimately, the initial equipment cost did not present a burden, but the savings were noticed immediately and continued at higher rates than what was anticipated.

None of the savings were related to an increase in laboratory workload for this group, an expected future benefit not part of the initial cost analysis.

The time has come for all labs to investigate laboratory automation seriously.

Given the list of benefits, minimal initial costs, and long-term savings, there are no longer any legitimate reasons to wait to automate.

As automation continues to evolve, only the imaginations and ingenuity of scientists will limit the potential uses of laboratory automation solutions.

Contact Hudson Robotics today to request a consultation or learn more about our Laboratory Automation products and discover how we can help you with a multitude of automation options to meet your laboratory needs.