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June 5, 2024 | Biomolecular

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Laboratory robotics and automation is revolutionising how scientific research, diagnostics, and analysis are conducted. By integrating advanced technology such as sophisticated software systems, artificial intelligence, and robotics in medical science, laboratories are achieving unprecedented levels of precision, efficiency, and reproducibility. Some great examples of this technology is the industry leading equipment produced by Bio Molecular Systems, including the Myra Liquid Handling System, Mic qPCR Cycle, and Mic-IVD qPCR Cycler. This evolution in equipment not only accelerates experimental workflows and enhances data accuracy, it significantly reduces human error and operational costs. As we look to understand automated laboratory processes, we will see how these innovations in automation in medical laboratory science from companies like Bio Molecular Systems, are shaping the future of medicine, biology, and science by offering exciting possibilities for advancements and beyond.

What is Automation in a Clinical Laboratory?

So, what is laboratory automation? Clinical laboratory automation, refers to the use of technology and systems to perform laboratory tests with minimal human intervention. This automation typically involves the integration of various sophisticated instruments, software, and robotics in medical science. With automated handling tasks ranging from specimen processing and analysis, to the reporting of test results with the Mic-IVD qPCR Cycler (an in vitro diagnostic device), have now become more precise and accurate. By utilising laboratory robotics and automation for routine and repetitive tasks, clinical labs can reduce the likelihood of human error, increase throughput, and ensure consistent results. The use of automation in medical laboratory science is particularly vital in high-volume settings such as large diagnostic centres and hospitals, where timely and accurate test results are crucial for patient care and management.

The Benefits of Laboratory Robotics and Automation

The integration of robotics and automation in a clinical laboratory is pivotal in streamlining workflows and optimising resources. The main benefits of automation and robotics in medical science, include:

Increased efficiency and productivity

In settings ranging from research laboratories to hospital diagnostics, these technologies automate often complex and time-consuming tasks. For instance, the Myra Liquid Handling System from BMS is the perfect example of a robotic system that can handle repetitive tasks, like liquid handling, allowing for more tests to be conducted with greater precision in less time. Automation software also streamlines data management, ensuring that data collection and analysis are more accurate and much faster, which enhances the decision-making process. This shift not only maximises clinical laboratory throughput, it also allows medical professionals to focus less on administrative tasks, and more on patient care. Overall, the integration of automation in medical laboratory science is critical for advancing healthcare delivery, enabling faster, more accurate diagnoses and treatment, and ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes.

Cost savings and resource optimisation

By automating routine and complex procedures, automation and robotics in medical science is minimising the need for manual labour, thereby reducing costs and the potential for human error, which can also be expensive to correct. Additionally, robotics ensures precision and efficiency in the use of materials and reagents, decreasing waste and lowering the overhead costs associated with excess consumption. As well as increased accuracy and faster throughput (reducing the downtime and costs associated with diagnostic delays and inaccuracies), automated systems also streamline processes, allowing for the better allocation of human resources towards more critical, analytical tasks that require expert intervention.

Reduction in human error

In the complex environment of medical laboratories, even minor errors can have significant repercussions. By deploying robotic systems and automation in a clinical laboratory, tasks that are typically prone to human error, such as specimen handling, data entry, and the administration of medications, are all performed with meticulous accuracy. These systems are specifically designed to adhere to predefined protocols with exacting precision, thereby eliminating the variability which is introduced by manual processes. Furthermore, automation in a clinical laboratory enhances standard repeatability across tests and treatments, ensuring uniformity in procedures that are critical to patient safety and the validity of research outcomes.

Partial Automation vs. Laboratory Workflow Automation:

The distinction between Partial Automation and Laboratory Workflow Automation comes down to integration and efficiency. Understanding the nuances between these two levels of automation is crucial for laboratories aiming to optimise operations and improve overall productivity in a scalable and cost-effective manner.

Partial Automation

Partial Automation involves the mechanisation of specific tasks within the lab, such as data entry or sample preparation. While automation in a laboratory can significantly reduce the manual labour of the task, it still requires human oversight and integration.

Laboratory Workflow Automation

On the other hand, Laboratory Workflow Automation offers a more comprehensive solution by automating entire processes – from sample reception to analysis and reporting – creating a seamless, interconnected workflow system that enhances throughput and accuracy.

Does Automation Kill Laboratory Jobs?

A common question that many people outside of the industry have is, does automation kill laboratory jobs? While automation does reduce the need for manual work, which can lead to a decrease in certain types of laboratory positions, it also opens up new avenues for professional growth and specialisation. Automation shifts the focus of laboratory personnel from mundane tasks to more complex and analytical roles that require oversight, management, and continuous improvement of automated processes. As laboratories expand their capabilities and improve efficiencies through automation, they can handle larger volumes of work and explore new scientific opportunities, potentially leading to job creation in emerging areas of research and development. In this way, automation doesn’t necessarily eliminate jobs by transforming them, requiring a higher level of skill and expertise in the workforce.

Technologies Used in Laboratory Robotics and Automation

Robotics and automation technology ranges from simple automated pipettes to sophisticated robotic systems capable of handling multiple samples simultaneously, automating entire processes like DNA sequencing, liquid handling, and even complex biochemical analyses. The benefits of integrating these automated robotics in medical science is substantial, for example they:

  • Increase precision in experiences by eliminating human error.
  • Significantly boost productivity by reducing the physical strain on laboratory personnel
  • Speed up the research and diagnostic processes by enabling continuous operations.
  • Improve safety by minimising exposure to hazardous substances (for scientists and technicians).
  • Have multitasking capabilities, so staff can focus on more complex or strategic tasks thereby enhancing the quality and innovation coming out of laboratories.

What Is It About Automation in Laboratory Testing? Learn More…

When we look closer at what is automation in laboratory settings, it becomes clear that these advancements are not just enhancing current processes, they are also paving the way for future innovations in scientific research and diagnostics. Ambitious biotechnology lab instruments and products like Mic and Myra from BMS, exemplify just how automated biotechnological equipment can be used, and laboratories around the world are already using them to achieve new heights in productivity and discovery, with the increased accuracy, efficiency, and safety this automated equipment and intuitive software provides.

If you’re intrigued by the potential of these technologies for your laboratory operations, see what laboratory automation is available from Bio Molecular Systems, and how we can empower your research and development efforts with our automated liquid handling systems. Embrace the future of automation in medical laboratory science , and see how Bio Molecular Systems biotechnological equipment can bring remarkable benefits to your lab.