Benefits of laboratory automation

Lab Automation
11. Nov 2023
Benefits of laboratory automation

In a rapidly evolving life science landscape, there is a high need for efficient, reliable, and scalable laboratory processes. As research complexity grows and regulatory demands intensify, the traditional manual approach to lab operations can pose significant challenges.

Laboratory automation has emerged as a solution to these challenges. This article provides insight into the advancements with lab automation, exploring how it enhances speed, reduces costs, improves data management and analysis, ensures compliance with regulations, and increases worker safety – to ultimately improve our healthcare system. 

Advantages of lab automation

In summary, the main advantages of laboratory automation are:

  • Increased efficiency
  • Cost savings
  • Enhanced data management
  • Compliance and regulatory advantages
  • Improved safety

Increased efficiency

Increasing efficiency is a major challenge for laboratories, as both time and resources are valuable and must be managed carefully. With lab automation, this becomes possible on several levels.

Faster turnaround time

Laboratory automation is vital in streamlining and accelerating experimental processes. By automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as precise pipetting, experiments that once took days can now be completed in a fraction of the time. This acceleration in lab processes offers significant benefits, allowing researchers to achieve higher throughput in less time. Furthermore, there is no downtime, since a laboratory automation system is productive 24/7. 

Reduced human error

In any manual process, there’s always room for human error. Automation significantly minimizes this risk. Automated systems in microbiology ensure precise measurements and consistent actions, leading to improved reproducibility and high-quality results. By reducing the variability introduced by manual intervention, automation ensures that experiments yield consistent and reliable outcomes.

Cost savings

Costs are a critical aspect in laboratory processes, as budgets are often tight and staff takes up a considerable amount of financial resources. Hence, lab automation can be a viable method to save costs in laboratories.

Reduced labor costs

Labor-intensive tasks, when automated, can lead to substantial savings. Automation minimizes the need for manual labor, allowing institutions to utilize their human resources for more complex and value-added activities. This not only leads to high-throughput but also minimizes potential costly errors that can arise from human intervention.

Efficient resource use

Automation ensures optimal use of materials by minimizing wastage. In liquid handling, for instance, automation systems use the exact amount of a reagent needed, preventing overuse or spillage. Over time, these economic benefits from reduced material costs compound, leading to significant savings. Moreover, by reducing waste, laboratories contribute positively to environmental sustainability.

Enhanced data management and analysis

Managing and analyzing data is a crucial yet complex aspect in daily laboratory routines. Lab automation can facilitate this task and maximize both safety and transparency.

Seamless data collection

Automated systems are equipped to facilitate continuous, error-free data collection or labelling, ensuring that every piece of data is meticulously recorded, timestamped, and stored, forming a foundation for meaningful analysis.

Advanced data analysis

Quite often, automation equipment comes with tools that enable real-time data analytics and interpretations. Suitable lab automation software can process vast datasets, run detailed statistical analyses, and even predict trends, all with minimal manual intervention. Such laboratory information management systems (LIMS) empower researchers to draw deeper insights and make informed decisions.

Compliance and regulatory advantages

Compliance to regulatory standards must be guaranteed during every step of laboratory routines. With lab automation, compliance can be facilitated and checked any time.

Easier GMP compliance

Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) are integral in the lab setting. Many automated systems are designed with GMP compliance at their core, featuring detailed logging, stringent quality control, and routine system validations.

Automated systems, with features like automatic audit trails, electronic signatures, and stringent validation protocols, ensure that laboratories consistently adhere to these regulatory standards.

Meeting other regulatory standards

Compliance with regulatory standards in laboratory settings extends beyond GMP and often includes addressing concerns related to biohazards, containment, and explosive security. Lab automation offers advantages in managing these additional regulatory aspects. For biohazard containment, automated systems can be equipped with specialized safety features. Automated containment enclosures and secure waste disposal protocols ensure the safe handling and containment of hazardous materials. 

In terms of explosive security, automated systems can incorporate advanced security measures. These systems often come with built-in risk assessment tools that help labs identify and mitigate potential hazards. 

Consistent adherence ensures compliance and traceability, with comprehensive and accurate documentation.

Improved worker safety

Hazardous substances, such as chemicals or pathogens, pose severe risks for the safety of staff. Additionally, exposure may not only affect the health of lab workers, but also have environmental impacts. Therefore, lab automation is designed to bring these risks down to a minimum.

Minimizing exposure to hazardous materials

Safety in a research lab or clinical laboratory is of high importance. Automation is enhancing lab works safety by minimizing human exposure to potentially hazardous materials. Automated closed systems can manage harmful reagents or samples without direct human contact, reducing risks and preventing potential contamination incidents.

Consistent procedure execution

Safety is also enhanced by the consistent execution of workflows. Automated systems, by design, follow the exact protocols programmed into them. This uniformity in procedure execution reduces the risks associated with procedural deviations that might arise from human fatigue, oversight, or error.

Taking advantage of the benefits of laboratory automation

The choice of automation technology and system provider is crucial to harnessing the full potential of the automation solution. An innovative technology taking advantage of the benefits is ESSERT Robotic’s lab automation solution

Our ESSERT automation platform is a flexible and modular solution for your individual automation needs. The Lab Solution is the ideal platform for automating the measuring and dispensing processes. It minimizes the need for human intervention and offers optimal efficiency at reduced costs.

This system is distinguished by its collaborative work capability and precise dosing. The module handles processes like mixing autonomously, relieving staff from repetitive tasks. Furthermore, its high-precision weighing units ensure consistently accurate measurements.

To truly leverage the benefits of lab automation, integrating solutions like the ADVANCED Robotic Workstation can be transformative. By seamlessly increasing precision, efficiency, and user-friendliness, it opens up new possibilities for laboratory operations.

FAQs: Advantages of automation in labs

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Read more about automation and laboratories:

What is lab automation?
Laboratory robotics simply explained
Lab automation software
Process automation simply explained
Pharmaceutical automation: Innovations driving an industry