Pressures on labs have never been greater with problems including an ageing population, increased industry demand and higher global healthcare expenditure.
Thankfully this article is not all doom and gloom. Lab automation is advancing faster than ever which means that the increasing demand is currently being met.
Some of the latest advances in automation are becoming increasingly accessible too, which is helping labs across the globe increase productivity in speed, accuracy, throughput and efficiency.
Although speed, throughput and efficiency are all appealing; accuracy is often the most important benefit that lab automation provides. This is due to the importance of reproducibility in labs – the ability to produce the same results from an experiment on multiple occasions.
There is an abundance of exciting automation products and technologies out there right now, but here are five automation companies that I believe to be offering the best solutions for accuracy.
First off, liquid handling robotic specialists, TTP Labtech, claim to be ‘revolutionising’ liquid handling.
I’m inclined to agree, but only to an extent because of the many innovative automation technologies that also join them in this area.
TTP Labtech’s most exciting product on the market is the Dragonfly crystal instrument. Its crystal screen optimizer impressively enables complex crystallization gradients or optimization screens to be accurately and rapidly prepared, even with viscous liquids, while eliminating cross-contamination.
The Dragonfly software also supports rapid design and dispensing of complex experiments through an intuitive UI that enables users to recall, refine and repeat screens easily. Thus, improving reproducibility.
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Andrew Alliance is an eco-friendly CO2 -Neutral Certified Company, dedicated to developing sustainable solutions.
This year, the company’s Andrew+ Pipetting Robot won the red herring New Product Award, adding to other successes like being named in the 100 Most Innovative Companies in 2017 (red herring) and winning the Game Changer Award in 2014 (robobusiness). More recently received a New Product Award for both our Andrew+ Pipetting Robot and Pipette + Pipetting System from SLAS in Feb 2019.
Their award-winning Andrew+ Pipetting Robot was brought out in February to build on the success of the original Andrew Pipetting Robot.
Not just able to automate pipetting, the product can enable more complex manipulation and grab microplates, tubes and columns, through an expanding range of accessories.
This product is leading the way to improved repeatability of conventional laboratory pipettes, add this to its innovative, quirky design and this could arguably be the product changing the routine of the traditional laboratory.
Another giant in the market, it wouldn’t be right to talk about lab automation without mentioning Integra Biosciences, which has been on the pipetting scene since 1965.
A well-known and respected brand, their most recent and impressive product to date is the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot.
Last year, this product scooped the SelectScience Scientists’ Choice Award for Best New General Lab Product of 2018. The fact that this award is based on the votes of laboratory scientists, truly highlights its importance and value.
Developed specifically to meet the demand for ever-faster throughput and diminishing sample volumes, the compact ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot can be combined with any INTEGRA electronic multichannel pipette to provide reproducible and error-free processing, while eliminating repetitive manual pipetting tasks.
Even more importantly, to keep up with the speed of technological advances in this space, its unique design can simply swap in a different INTEGRA pipette to access new applications. This, in theory, means that the product will never become obsolete.
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Although TTP LabTech, Andrew Alliance and Integra Biosciences offer great solutions, their products can often feel inaccessible to the wider lab community. This is where Opentrons come in, which is bringing lab automation to the masses.
Its electronic pipettes are incredibly cost-effective and offer quality performance. Its current line has an accuracy with comparable CV to robots ten times as expensive.
Easy to use and open to customization, the pipettes make reproducibility a possibility for every lab.
Another great value for money product is the SOLO liquid Handler.
Coming in at about half the cost of other laboratory robotics platforms, the SOLO liquid Handler is a high resolution compact robotic pipettor.
A notable advantage of this product is it’s easy to use SoloSoft software which supports data tracking and scheduling, plus improved efficiency and decreased cost of continuous unattended operation systems.
To conclude, the pressure for labs to perform is only likely to increase. However, companies like these will continue to innovate improving lab productivity in speed, throughput, efficiency and, most importantly, accuracy; easing the situation and providing a better future for the Life Sciences industry as a whole.