2012 Automated Liquid Handling Survey Results

In automated liquid handlers (ALHs) many customers are looking for modularity, flexibility, scalability, and upgradability.

In automated liquid handlers (ALHs) many customers are looking for modularity, flexibility, scalability, and upgradability. At the same time, space limitations are causing a shift from large core-facility, high-throughput screening systems to smaller, dedicated, more distributed screening within individual laboratories. Lab or bench-scale ALHs often lack the capabilities of core lab instruments and workflows change as well. Users therefore demand scalable, relatively low-cost instruments to which they may add functionality later on. Throughput is always a factor in deciding to “go automated.” But many experts have noted that speed is secondary to analysis quality. ALH provides accuracy, repeatability, and essentially error-free record keeping while freeing lab workers to do more creative activities such as planning experiments.

If you currently utilize an automated liquid handling instrument or are planning to purchase one, please check all of the procedures that apply to your lab.*

Serial dilution 18%
PCR setup 18%
Plate replication 14%
High-throughput screening 12%
Cell culture 11%
Plate reformatting 10%
Whole genome amplification 5%
Array printing 4%
High-density array printing 3%
Other 5%

Most of our readers have an annual budget of over $5,000 for the maintenance, parts, repairs and service of their automated liquid handling systems:

Under $1,000 14%
$1,000 to $2,500 18%
$2,500 to $5,000 16%
$5,000 + 34%
Don’t know 19%

Do you currently use or plan to purchase an automated liquid handling instrument equipped with…..*

Disposable tips 57%
Fixed, washable tips with various chemically resistant and biologically appropriate coatings and lengths 17%
Sound waves that use acoustic energy to transfer liquids 4%
Don’t know 23%

The top 10 features that impact our readers’ decisions to buy automated liquid handling instruments:*

  Important Not Important Don't Know
Rapid throughput 92% 3% 5%
Size — small footprint 89% 5% 6%
Accuracy and precision for a wide range of compatible fluids 89% 6% 5%
Price 89% 8% 3%
Ability to expand on instrument as requirements change 86% 10% 4%
Maximize operator safety 86% 9% 5%
Compatible with LIMS-generated work lists 86% 7% 7%
Maintenance / service / availability of accessories and replacement parts 84% 10% 6%
Safe sample handling — no cross-contamination 83% 12% 5%
Sample tracking — automated recording and sample data documentation with a choice of bar code reader options 83% 12% 5%

* These sections include results from our sister publication The Scientist

For more information on automated liquid handling, visit 

Completed Surveys: 230

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