Liquid reagents and samples make the bulk of materials that life science labs use. Therefore, it’s important to have effective liquid handling systems in the lab. Automated liquid handling robots are a great way to speed up lab processes, improve accuracy and precision, and reduce human error.Before you set up an automated liquid handling workstation in your lab, there are several considerations to review. Read on for more information about what to look for in a liquid handling robot.
The Footprint of The Liquid Handling Robot
Space is a luxury in many labs, so consider the size of the liquid handling robot and whether it can fit in your lab. Compact automated pipettors can handle single, eight, twelve-channel, and some even more pipette channels without taking up much space.
In the lab, you might use your automated liquid handling workstation for multiple applications. If that’s the case, consider a liquid handling robot that can be integrated with systems such as an automated DNA purification system and where it can fit in the system. If you work with samples in fume hoods or biological safety cabinets, consider a liquid handling robot that fits in standard hoods, cabinets and flow benches.
The Volume and Format Liquid Handling Robots Can Work With
The liquid handling robot should handle the pipetting volumes that you work with, whether it be nanoliters, microliters or milliliters. Also, make sure it’s compatible with the tubes and microplates you use in your lab.
Whether you use 96-well microplates, 384 or 1,536-well microplates, check with your vendor for the robot’s ability to handle them. This is also a good time to consider using smaller sample and reagent volumes with your automated system to save cost in the long run.
Pipetting Arms Suited To Your Needs
Pipetting arms can be single channel or multichannel. Single channel pipettors are used for tube or vial to microplate transfers. Multichannel pippettors are used for transferring liquids between wells of a plate, such as for serial dilutions, or plate to plate transfers, such as for making copies of a plate, transferring know volumes or for adding reagents to the wells.
Compatibility with Robotic Arms
A robotic arm makes lab automation much more effective. It moves your samples between the liquid handling robot and other instruments, allowing you to build a completely hands-off automated liquid handling workstation. Besides checking the space available for your instruments and robotic arm, check if your liquid handling robot can integrate seamlessly with a robotic arm. Consider a robotic arm that can independently switch out its attachments to handle different labware for increased efficiency.
Software Considerations with Liquid Handling Robots
Software is essential in an automated system. Below are some software criteria to consider when setting up a liquid handling robot in your lab.
- Is the liquid handling robot compatible with the laboratory scheduling software that you have in your lab?
- Does the software have pre-made protocols, and is it easy to program custom protocols?
- If you don’t already have laboratory scheduling software, does the vendor provide software that you can use?
- Can you reconfigure the software if you repurpose the liquid handling robot for a different system, and is that something your vendor can help you with?
- What are the security features of the software? Password encryption, compatibility with 21CFR Part 11 regulation, and multi-level user access controls are some features to look out for.
If done right, automating your workflow with a liquid handling robot can free up your time from completing repetitive tasks, improve productivity in the lab, reduce errors, and ensure your lab keeps up with the growing demands in research.
Contact Hudson Robotics to learn more about liquid handling or to find the right solution for your lab.