Various processes and protocols in the laboratory can be automated, from liquid handling and colony picking to microplate handling and assay management. For scientists, the benefits of automation include greater productivity, consistent assay results, and improved lab safety.
One of the critical components of automation infrastructure is the lab scheduling software. This is the tool scientists use to monitor and control the lab’s robots and instruments. This post highlights some things to look for when selecting lab scheduling software.
What is lab automation scheduling software?
Lab automation scheduling software allows labs to schedule and execute processes on integrated platforms so scientists can make the most of the devices, instruments, and workcells in the lab. Scheduling software like Green Button Go can facilitate the way instruments are connected to one another, without = hassle. Instruments like liquid handlers, dispensers, washers, and more, can all be connected, regardless of manufacturer. A scheduler can allow you to not only run planned activities across a workstation, it can also simulate any automated workflow in a fully virtual environment. With the power to simulate, you unlock the ability to run timing studies and experiment with automation design.
The benefits of modern lab scheduling software
A quality lab scheduling software offers many benefits to scientists, allowing them to scale their lab and easily train any staff member to leverage.
- The scheduling feature: As the control center for the automation system, this feature allows scientists to schedule different experiments in the lab. Scientists can set up different workflows to run at specified times — in sequence or simultaneously — and reschedule workflows without stress. They can also instruct robots to perform tasks as needed.
- Customizable workflows: Scientists in the lab can create protocols and processes that are unique to their labs, in addition to those already offered in the software.
- Multipath scheduling: Being able to schedule and control multiple robots and transportation systems simultaneously is an invaluable benefit that helps maximize efficiency and track samples across different transportation mechanisms.
- Cell maintenance planning: Managing all recurring tasks of cell line generation or culturing in one place allows your lab to run around the clock when caring for cells.
- Hardware agnostic: Ensuring all of your liquid handlers are able to be controlled with one single software gives the ability to see statuses in real time and improve error handling all in one interface.
- Easy to learn: Scientists can interact with the interface without requiring a lot of ongoing training from the software vendor. With a quality lab scheduler, it should be easy for researchers to monitor the progress of their experiments, make adjustments, and track the positions of different lab instruments, robots, and samples.
- Data capture and management: Good scheduling software also captures all the relevant data during experiments and stores it in the appropriate databases. It should also easily integrate with existing solutions in the lab, including laboratory information management systems and electronic lab notebooks.
- Flexibility: A great scheduling software allows scientists to adjust protocols as needed and integrate the different lab instruments. Researchers should also be able to swap out instruments quickly and easily without worrying about the availability of drivers to manage new equipment.
- Standards compliance: Scientists often work with sensitive data in the lab. Quality scheduling software meets all applicable industry standards for handling data safely and securely.
Other types of lab software
Lab automation scheduling software is not the only game in town. Other software options are available and may fit certain lab needs better than others.
- Electronic Lab notebook (ELN): This is a tool that replaces traditional paper notebooks in labs, allowing for easier searchability and sharing of results and notes.
- Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS): This is a software that helps manage samples and any associated experiment data. LIMs is a critical part of any automated lab, as it tracks and catalogs the necessary data required to successfully automate workflows.
- Data analysis software: This software helps labs manage and review data from assays, samples, and other sources. Centralizing data for analysis means more efficiency and less time wasted.
A great laboratory automation scheduling software should be able to connect to these other kinds of software, typically via an API, to keep data flowing through the lab.
What comes after scheduling?
Reliable, high-quality scheduling software will help scientists reduce errors in their processes and increase their overall output. Biosero’s Green Button Go® Scheduler is an automated laboratory scheduling software that provides all the functionality mentioned above and much more. It was designed from the ground up to help scientists make the most of the automated tools in their lab. Contact us to learn more about Green Button Go® Scheduler and discuss your automation needs.
But scheduling is not the end of the road for labs. Scheduling coordinates specific tasks with intentional and consistent timings for one or many samples in a process. It’s a foundational requirement for the next step in a seamless lab ecosystem: lab orchestration.
An orchestrated lab can plan, calendar, and execute workflows, transport samples in harmony, track all manual lab tasks, provide visibility into real-time monitoring, and collect all of the important information into a single portal.
Taking the step from scheduling to orchestrating is no small feat, but the possibilities become endless as a result. Once the lab workflow data is flowing into an orchestration portal, labs can integrate with LIMS, environmental monitoring, ELN, and manual processes. The data flowing in can be organized and categorized for optimal learnings across the entire lab process.
Biosero’s 5-step process to implement orchestration in a lab involves a consultation to fully understand the project, defining the scope of work, executing on building and testing, installing the system at your site, and then of course, production!
Want to learn more about an orchestrated lab?
- Follow us on LinkedIn. We’re talking about this topic and other lab automation ideas every day.
- Check out Green Button Go Orchestrator. The Lab Orchestration concepts we describe above are our design philosophy as a team of software developers and automation engineers trying to do lab auto better. We practice what we preach.