Knowing the Power of Laboratory Automation

Pharma Tech Outlook: Pharma Tech Magazine

Knowing the Power of Laboratory Automation

Pharma Tech Outlook | Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Considering the advantages automation brings, it is not surprising that it is becoming a critical component of the wider move to streamline the laboratory environment.

FREMONT, CA: The laboratory environment is made up of a complex array of equipment. In recent years, new digital technologies are slowly being assimilated into the laboratory, and automation is the most revolutionary. Automation requires minimal human interference tailored to reduce the repetitive tasks of laboratory work. Automation comes in forms, including laboratory information management systems, laboratory execution systems, and collaborative bots. Considering the benefits automation brings, it is not surprising that it is becoming a key component of the laboratory environment.

 Laboratories are highly standardized environments designed to ensure replicability, traceability, and accuracy of research data. Automation in the laboratory environment can offer the scientist greater control over their instruments to scale standards and fasten the experimental process. It is undeniable that the laboratory's automation has been directly allowed by the expansion in functionality-and reduction in cost-of computing. Many laboratories contain computer-controlled instruments that are self-contained automated systems. Such systems can take multiple readings from a single sample over time or take multiple simultaneous readings. Although most systems will require some level of physical interaction, this is as simple as loading the sample before the operation and removing it afterward.

There is an explicit need that the automated system is safe to operate under those conditions. It means that it is rated appropriately for elevated pressure and poses no risks to the user or the system itself. Appropriate laboratory automation is suited to run experiments-providing high-quality data while protecting the user by defining the experimental protocol in advance of experimental work and accurately conducting the defined protocol, including real-time monitoring and adjustment of experimental conditions. The remote operations provided by automation also can significantly increase laboratory productivity. This is demonstrated in both academic research facilities and privately-owned firms. With smaller laboratories and fewer staff, the need to do more is a vital river for implementing automation. 

The research community must adjust to working safely with the threat posed by industry demands. Effective automation will be vital to these new working practices to enable the same throughput of tests with limited human resources.

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