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Things to Think About When Buying an Automated Liquid Handler

Automated Liquid Handling

Apart from performing many lab tasks more efficiently than manual options, ALHs have a number of other benefits

by Lab Manager
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Eppendorf epMotion® 5073 Liquid Handling Workstation,

For any applications that require repetitive pipetting tasks, such as serial dilutions, PCR, sample preparation, and next-generation sequencing, automated liquid handlers (ALHs) are the way to go. Apart from performing these and other tasks more efficiently than manual options, ALHs have a number of other benefits, such as reducing the risk of cross-contamination and improving traceability with barcode scanning features. For a list of ALH manufacturers, see our online directory:

7 Questions to Ask When Buying an Automated Liquid Handler:

  1. What is the volume range?
  2. Will it be used for many different applications and is it compatible with multiple labware formats?
  3. What technology is used? 
  4. Will you need to automate plate handling and will the instrument accommodate microplate stackers or robotic arms?
  5. Does the ALH require specialized pipette tips?
  6. Does it have other capabilities such as vacuum, magnetic bead separation, shaking, and heating and cooling?
  7. How easy is the system to use and set up?

Purchasing Tip

When shopping for an ALH, users will want to find out how reliable the system is and how easy it is to set up and run. Today’s ALHs are much easier to use than those of the past, and inexpensive options for labs that just need to automate a few key functions are more plentiful. However, purchasers will want to exercise caution as less expensive options can sometimes take a long time to set up and still generate workflow errors.

Management Tip

When implementing automation in your lab, it’s important to involve staff at the very beginning of the process and reassure them that they’re not going to be replaced by an automated system. Be sure to get their input when selecting instrumentation and highlight how automation will benefit them.