In research laboratories, it’s important to maximize scientists’ time during the workday. A key part of that is creating an environment where they can focus on planning experiments and analyzing data to get meaningful results. Essentially, scientists should be goal-oriented rather than task-oriented — which means benchtop assays are ripe targets for automation.
One of the primary benefits of automating a benchtop assay is reducing error rates. Robots can perform repetitive tasks with less variation than human scientists. There’s also a lower risk of cross-contamination. Another benefit of automation is it improves the assay’s efficiency. When scientists manually transfer samples or media, they generally lose some quantity of the fluid in transit. When robots do it, there is significantly less waste.
Despite the benefits, the prospect of automating a benchtop assay can be a daunting one. There are some practical limitations of automation, and researchers need to consider the tradeoffs when making the switch. At the bench, scientists have complete control over experimental components, adjusting as needed. For example, a technician can pipette fluid down the side of a tube instead of straight down or rotate sample plates in any way they want. Robotic arms have a more limited range of motion. There are also some tasks that are easier for humans to do, such as capping and de-capping sample tubes or adding and retrieving stir bars. People can also make decisions on the fly if things go wrong in the middle of an experiment.
Other factors to consider include the overall costs of automation, budget and space limitations, and the number of samples that the lab would need to run daily. Additionally, how much human interaction is required? For example, do scientists need to check on the experiment’s progress frequently, or can samples be run overnight without human supervision?
At Biosero, we are experts at helping scientists automate their benchtop assays. We understand the challenges of making this transition and are committed to making it as seamless as possible. We can help prospective customers think through their assay requirements so they can design experiments in automation-friendly ways and offer strategic counsel about which automated instruments are available.
Once we have a plan, we work with customers to automate the process using our Green Button Go® software. It knits together the different components of the assay, including liquid handling systems, microplate readers, plate handlers, electronic lab notebooks, and laboratory information management systems. Once we have installed the system, scientists can execute their assays quickly and efficiently from our user-friendly dashboard.
Automation improves the quality and integrity of experiments in the lab, supports reproducible research, and frees up lab members’ time to focus on the highest-value tasks. If you’re considering automating an existing assay, please reach out to us to discuss your needs.
Are you interested in learning more about automating your lab or Green Button Go® software?