Problem: With the vast majority of drug discovery research facilities and a growing number of academic laboratories now utilizing automated workflows, the ability to safely move plates from one instrument to the next is vital to ensure the efficient progression of the protocol. Plate movers are therefore key components in any automated lab.

Automated workflows streamline processes to maximize productivity by substantially reducing the user input and time needed to complete the required task. As automation can be utilized for more and more processes, larger, increasingly complex workflows can be undertaken. However as the majority of the plate movers currently available are stationary, they have limited reach. This restriction impacts on the number of instruments and storage units that can be placed around the mover, constraining the size, complexity and customization of the required automated workflow. The inability to reach instruments essential for the efficient progression of the protocol is a limiting factor in the development of automated systems, as it reduces the hands-off time that would be available for other research tasks.

Solution: In order to support an enhanced and more complex workflow, the plate mover ideally needs to be able to access all the instruments within the workflow. The Thermo Scientific Orbitor BenchTrak significantly extends the functionality and versatility of the existing Orbitor™ RS plate mover by incorporating a track that the Orbitor can move freely along. This not only extends the reach of the mover, but also means that more instruments can be accessed and utilized within a given process. The Orbitor BenchTrak can be easily incorporated into an existing Orbitor system set-up or laboratory space as either an “on-bench” or “in-bench” component. Therefore it addresses almost any workflow requirement, including sample preparation, ELISA, nucleic acid and protein purification, cell or biochemical assays, qPCR and next generation sequencing, all of which can be carried out alone or in combination. To provide a completely unique and flexible automation solution, the fully customizable mover can connect to a range of “click-in” components, such as instrument loading platforms, mezzanines, guarding and microplate stores, as well as additional tracks. This enables a large, fully automated workflow to be carried out, reducing the need for user input, which in turn enhances productivity.

In order for plate movers to effectively carry out their function within a workflow, they need to be taught the location of instrument nests and plate storage devices. This can be a difficult, time consuming, and complex undertaking often requiring input from specialist automation technicians. The Thermo Scientific LOCamotion software, supplied as standard with the Orbitor BenchTrak, guides users through the steps required to teach the plate movers. The need for an automation technician is therefore eliminated and valuable time is saved. Furthermore, the automation control and scheduling Thermo Scientific Momentum 3 software integrates all of the required processes in a given protocol. It configures the Orbitor BenchTrak and other devices, enabling multiple users to operate continuously, maximizing the flexibility and productivity of the workflows, while providing complete walk-away functionality and user peace of mind.

Together the Orbitor BenchTrak, LOCamotion™ and Momentum ™ 3 software can support a variety of processes enabling the control and movement of plates in large, complex, fully customized automated workflows.

For further information visit

The Thermo Scientific Orbitor BenchTrak extends the functionality and versatility of the Orbitor RS plate mover.