Automation 101: The benefits of laboratory automation

December 1, 2021  |  Technology

Research laboratories often decide to incorporate automation due to limitations with manual workflows. These include issues with research productivity, data processing, tracking samples, and capturing experimental data.

Today, labs are under increasing pressure to generate reliable research results that can quickly be transformed into useful products. Access to automation can help scientists meet their research goals on time and within budget. Here, we take a look at some of the benefits that labs can get from automation.

More productive staff

More productive staff is the primary reason labs decide to automate. Automation can help labs perform high-throughput assays and experiments in a timely manner, without needing to hire more people. This is important particularly for experiments with detailed processes or experiments that need to be completed quickly. Automation also helps labs accomplish tasks that would be challenging without the help of machines, such as those requiring nanoliter-volume dispensing. Robots don’t get tired or need breaks, so they can complete repetitive and tedious tasks that would take scientists much longer.  Automation also extends the work-day productivity hours, allowing scientific processes to continue running into evenings, overnight, and even throughout weekends long after the scientist has left the laboratory.

Improved research quality and more reliable results

Typical lab operations might involve assay miniaturization using sub-microliter fluids. But these experiments need consistent inputs for the results to be useful, and that’s not likely to happen with manual processes. With automation, scientists can run these experiments at scale with the right sample amounts. It reduces the risk of errors that might occur if scientists did the experiments manually and ensures that experiments are done the same way every time. As a result, labs have more control over quality and consistency, leading to more reproducible results.

Better workflow management

Automation plans that account for every step in a lab’s daily workflow result in more predictable throughput and outcomes. Lab employees are less stressed, and lab processes run more efficiently. Automated workflow management is also important for experiments with more specialized requirements. For example, in experiments that use temperature-sensitive reagents, robots can be programmed to dispense these reagents into assay plates at the appropriate time and temperature even if the scientists are not there. Also, scientists can be confident that their experimental processes are thoroughly documented and their samples tracked.

Safer working conditions

Some lab processes are hazardous, involving exposure to harmful substances and chemicals. Automating these processes creates a safer work environment. In addition, automation can help labs reduce their environmental footprint by using less energy and reducing waste from failed experiments. Robots can also handle experiments that involve a lot of repetitive motion, which can take a toll on workers’ physical and mental health. The result: more efficient work processes with fewer errors, allowing scientists to spend their time on higher-value and more strategic tasks. An added benefit is improved morale since employees are not spending their time on boring, unpleasant work.

Return on investment

Automated solutions quickly pay for themselves by reducing operating and labor costs as well as increasing experimental output. With greater output, labs can be more competitive without compromising the quality of their results.

Implementing automation does not have to be complicated or intimidating. Many solutions today, like Biosero’s Green Button Go software, can be easily integrated into existing lab infrastructure with minimal disruption to your research processes. Contact us to learn more.

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