Implementing any new system in the laboratory comes with some level of risk: unforeseen events, instrumentation failure, and changes to the proposal can cause projects to drag on longer than planned, stretching the budget and scientists’ patience. The same is true for automation.
Identifying the potential risks of implementing automation infrastructure and having a contingency plan in place will help scientists maximize their investment, save time, and prevent wasted resources. In this post, let’s take a look at some ways to identify and manage risk when bringing automation into the lab.
Step 1: Risk analysis. The process starts with identifying known or foreseeable risks that could pose a problem. This includes organizational, financial, and technological risk factors. Then it’s important to evaluate the potential impact of each risk factor — what would be the effect on the project if each one happened? — as well as to estimate the likelihood that the risk factor will occur.
Step 2: Risk evaluation. This phase involves taking each risk, one by one, and deciding whether it needs to be addressed. Different aspects of the implementation process can be marked as low or high risk. As an example, one factor to consider would be the number of applications that need to interface with the automation software. Linking multiple applications requires more work than just one or two items, which might be marked as a high risk. Another consideration is the team’s experience with the customer’s system. The less familiar the team is with the system, the greater the risk of something going wrong during implementation.
Step 3: Risk control. Finally, it’s time to address those risks deemed truly serious. This is where researchers and automation providers should discuss possible strategies to eliminate risks or at least propose countermeasures if things do go wrong.
Risk assessment is not a simple one-and-done conversation. It is an ongoing process because challenges can arise at any stage of a project, from project definition and system selection to implementation and rollout.
As a result, risk assessment should start at the beginning of an automation project and continue to take place at intervals throughout the implementation process to see if new risks have emerged. At Biosero, our team of experts can help you think carefully about possible risks with your implementation efforts and design a plan to address them. Contact us to troubleshoot your automation plans.