Automation of any laboratory workflow is based upon many demands. One of the most often heard demands is to increase the speed, but this is a wrong assumption. A technician is very often faster than a liquid handler. The advantage of automation in this case is that the hands-on time of the application is decreased drastically, enabling the option to perform other tasks such as data interpretation.
Other reasons for automating any workflow, are increasing throughput, decreasing errors and increasing reproducibility. These are all valid reasons to start looking into automation.
A liquid handler has a higher accuracy, precision and especially reproducibility over a technician. It also never needs a break (except when it’s due for maintenance) and it is not hungover after the annual Christmas party. As good as this sounds, liquid handlers have many limitations that may cause a user to not choose for automation. These are all the little tricks and adaptations that a manual pipet makes, like swirling around a crystalized particle.
When automation will become a serious option, it will not just take the place of the technician. It very often has an impact on the entire workflow, especially if there is no prior experience with automation of similar processes. A lot of the preparation work is invested in looking at the workflow and the goals of the process. Together with an applications specialist the workflow, the goals and the criteria needed for successfully automating the process are retrieved. This will help us understand your needs, and help you understand what we will do for you.