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Resource Guide

Transitioning to Automated Liquid Handling

A guide to the considerations of adopting new platforms in the lab

Virtually every lab manager experiences the dominant pressures of optimized workflows that reduce inefficiencies on all fronts to achieve organizational goals and remain competitive in the dynamic scientific landscape. Adopting automation technologies—and automated liquid handling (ALH) in particular—promise to enhance lab efficiency, throughput, and reliability, enabling labs to meet goals faster and more easily. Many labs have yet to adopt these technologies, for a variety of reasons including cost, lack of expertise, and the difficulty in assessing the best options for their lab and the most relevant considerations amidst incredibly wide-ranging technologies on the market. 

Transitioning to Automated Liquid Handling

Successful ALH integration requires thoughtful consideration beyond the initial investment. The primary considerations for ALH adoption include evaluating the entire workflow to understand how automation affects both upstream and downstream processes, ensuring compatibility and integrity of samples within automated systems, and effectively managing the transition to accommodate staffing and data processing needs.

A comprehensive evaluation of your lab’s specific needs, sample variability, and mission is crucial. Whether you’re focused on quality control, research support, or method development, understanding the variability of your sample streams and ensuring sample suitability for automated environments are key to maintaining quality. Additionally, careful planning to streamline sample preparation and queue management can prevent the creation of new bottlenecks and enhance overall lab productivity. Successful decision-making relating to automation can be achieved by ensuring procedures, processes, and benefits are fully broken down and assessed separately, making sure that each member of staff involved has given some input into the pros and cons of automating the process.

 Assessing the relevant long-term benefits and costs for specific labs and applications can be challenging, but understanding the balance between them is central to informed decision making surrounding adoption. While automation can significantly increase sample throughput and operational efficiency, it’s essential to consider the full scope of automation’s impact, including potential shifts in bottlenecks and the need for adjustments in staffing and data management strategies. Solutions must also be adaptable to future needs for long-term success, ideally capable of integration with future equipment or attachments and scale-up ready. By taking a holistic approach to planning and implementation, lab managers can ensure that ALH adoption meets current needs and positions the lab for future growth and challenges.

Download this comprehensive guide to learn:

  • Key considerations and strategies for successfully integrating ALH systems into your laboratory workflow.
  • How to evaluate and address the impact of automation on sample integrity, throughput, and quality control.
  • Practical insights into overcoming common challenges, including staffing adjustments and data management in an automated setting.
  • Insights into the balance between cost and functionality, emphasizing the importance of flexibility, scalability, and strategic investment in automation for long-term benefits.

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