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Reducing Automation Set-Up Time

Problem: A laboratory scientist’s time is extremely precious, with a multitude of tasks to complete in order to produce meaningful data. With the vast majority of drug discovery research facilities and a growing number of academic laboratories now utilizing automated workflows, it is essential that they can be designed and set up with ease, regardless of their complexity.

by Thermo Scientific
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The Thermo Scientific™ iAutomate™ intuitive online tool for automation platform configuration.Thermo Scientific

Automated workflows streamline processes to maximize productivity by substantially reducing the user input and time needed to complete the required tasks. As automation can be utilized for more and more processes, the trend is moving towards the development of small, easily reconfigurable islands of automation. The impact of this does mean that workflows require a method of linking these islands together, with the ability to incorporate manual processes. Both time and money can be saved through the custom design of these workflows, but ensuring that they perform optimally while fitting into the available space can prove challenging. As such, a design tool that allows users to explore different configurations and gain confidence in performance ahead of purchase is ideal.

Solution: Designing an automated workflow with an optimal layout to maximize available space can be challenging. The Thermo Scientific™ iAutomate™ online automation system configuration tool provides users with an interactive interface whereby they can drag and drop instruments and plate movers into various configurations. Users can quickly and easily build their own systems that meet application or process requirements, or modify existing systems.

Currently housing an inventory of more than 85 different devices, this free-to-use software enables complete configuration of a workflow around the Thermo Scientific™ Orbitor™ or Orbitor BenchTrak plate movers. When setting up a project, users have complete access to this product catalog, enabling the simple selection of specific instruments via the search and filter criteria. Once chosen, all instruments will appear on the main screen for alignment around the Orbitor or Orbitor BenchTrak. Providing further ease of use, preconfigured application solutions can be accessed and either used as they are, or customized as required. The workflow can then be visualized in 2D or 3D, where a scale model can be inspected from any angle. As such, users can be confident that their workflow will meet the demands of their application ahead of any purchase, and fit within the given space. Furthermore, since iAutomate is a web-based tool it is accessible anywhere—meaning that researchers do not need to be in the lab in order to design their system.

Once the optimal workflow has been completed, users can select the “Estimate” tab to be provided with a summary of all system elements, along with their associated cost. The entire workflow can be shared with colleagues, and can be purchased by clicking the “Contact Me” button.

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