As technology has progressed over time, so have the research methods used to create that technology. Lab tech has rapidly evolved to become faster, more efficient, and more intuitive to use, benefitting both the researchers and the people for whom the breakthroughs are produced. From drug screening to protein interactions and more, advances in automation are pervasive in clinical labs around the world.
Taking Over Mundane Tasks
In the past, lab work was grueling and mind-numbing. While many tasks in day-to-day lab operations still retain these qualities, lab automation allows researchers to pass off mundane tasks to machines so they can focus on other activities. Reliance on this technology helps researchers cut down on errors and focus on analysis.
By allowing machines to take over repetitive or redundant tasks, such as pipetting material into individual flasks, researchers can complete many tasks quickly and accurately. They optimize their lab operations to be efficient, streamlined, and at the highest level of productivity.
Saving Valuable Laboratory Funds
Paying humans to complete mundane tasks can rack up costs. Often, these tasks can take hours for a human to complete, while lab automation technology can cut this time down into an hour or less. In addition, human error can lead to significant setbacks in the research process – which costs more time to correct and therefore more money. With lab automation, researchers are able to save valuable laboratory funds and place their lab assistants on more high priority tasks.
Lower Error Risk on Strenuous Activities
Automation not only takes over from mundane tasks – it can also help complete especially difficult tasks with fewer errors. For example, mixing blood with plasma can be an issue for laboratory researchers and cause setbacks in the research process. Separating blood from plasma can be extremely strenuous and difficult – however, automated technology can facilitate this process for scientists.
Emerging Forms of Lab Automation
Over the past few years, major breakthroughs in automation technology have developed many different machines that clinical researchers can use to their advantage. Emerging forms of laboratory automation technology include:
- Sample Labeling: Labeling is a crucial part of laboratory operations. Misplacement and mislabeling can lead to inaccurate results and a loss of vital samples. However, automation technology could cut down on these errors by performing the labeling itself.
- DNA/RNA Sequencing: Automation could help sequence DNA/RNA at a rapid rate, helping researchers identify infections, pathogens, and other microbes in clinical settings.
- Automated Specimen Separation: As stated above, separating blood into a serum or the plasma can be extremely strenuous and time-consuming for clinical researchers. With automation, clinical researchers cut down on this work with fewer errors.
- Biobanking: Biobanking requires researchers to correctly store leftover specimens with correct information about how the researchers obtained the specimen. Researchers can automate this entire process, from aliquoting to labeling to freezing and storing.
- Pre-Analytical Automation: Before researchers use a specimen in lab processes, they will need to put them through analytical processing. Automation can help separate and rack these specimens for a more efficient analysis process.
- Specimen Transportation: Picking up and transferring specimens puts those specimens at risk for damage and delays. With automation, researchers can reduce damage risks, cut down on interruption to their work, and speed up the specimen delivery process significantly.
Automation is the future of clinical laboratory technology. With it, researchers can invest in efficiency, productivity, and accuracy. With fewer errors and less damage to valuable specimens, it’s no wonder how many researchers are turning to lab automation.