Setting a New Bar for Benchtop Automation

By April 9, 2020

Laboratory automation is quickly becoming a critical component of the modern lab, streamlining pharmaceutical, life science and analytical LC-MS workflows.  Automation of routine and complex sample preparation helps minimize variability, improve traceability and simplify method transfer, ultimately bringing improved efficiency to the lab and allowing scientists to spend more time on value-added tasks.

Despite this, laboratory automation can mean different things to different people, encompassing a simple automated plate washer and basic pipettors all the way to fully equipped discovery hubs like the newly launched L2S21 (Lilly Life Sciences Studio Lab) in San Diego. Emotional reactions to laboratory automation can also vary greatly – from excitement for the future and the promise of digital transformation as part of Industry 4.0, all the way to fear: the daunting fear that automation will be painful to adopt.

The truth is that not every lab is a candidate for full-blown, high throughput automation.  In fact, many scientists and technicians just need an extra “set of hands” so that they can work on higher priority tasks – like the upstream design of experiments and downstream data analysis and interpretation. Removing the burden of tedious work allows scientists to get to answers and make decisions more quickly; it allows them to confidently move on with their research, and in labs at pharmaceutical and contract testing labs, it ultimately moves the right molecules closer to becoming commercialized therapeutics.

Not everyone needs to run hundreds of samples at a time, and teams can’t always designate a “super user” to program the liquid handling system for the lab.

This is where the sweet spot of benchtop automation comes in to play.  When very high sample throughput isn’t required, a benchtop solution should provide the following benefits:

  • Quality data: Minimizes variability for added confidence
  • Efficiency gains: Reduces number of mundane tasks for the scientist
  • Walk away capability: Enables a scientist or technician to spend time on more important work
  • Accessibility: adoption should be pain-free – the system needs to be easy to learn, easy to use, and easy to maintain

The holy grail would be a system with bonus features:

  • Flexibility
    • Can process different numbers of samples with minimal programming
    • Is portable and can easily be moved for use in a fume hood or walk-in fridge
    • Accommodates multiple operations like shaking, heating and cooling
    • Can be used in support of a wide range of analytical workflows, not limited to up-front sample prep for LC-MS and for Next Generation Sequencing
  • Method transfer: Ability to easily share methods for consistency across teams
  • Traceability: if a method fails, built-in intelligence pinpoints the source of the error

And ultimately, the system should be affordable.

Enter Andrew Alliance.

The Andrew Alliance portfolio includes the Pipette+, the Andrew+ liquid handling robot, supported by additional connected devices and tools, and OneLab, an intuitive cloud-native software that enables fast, flexible and traceable sample preparation capability.

It is the lab assistant that works with you, so you can be more productive together.

Whether you’re building out complex protocols or streamlining basic sample preparation like serial dilution or plate transfer, implementing automation in your lab doesn’t need to be difficult. It doesn’t have to break the bank, and it can be easy to deploy, yielding time-savings and confidence.

Intrigued? Learn more about the Andrew+ robot and Pipette+ … and try OneLab+ for free.

Get automated. It’s easier than you think.