Every lab should want to optimize its operations and day to day workflow. Data is constantly being generated and stored and laboratories should implement strategies to manage that data more effectively. Labs that have implemented integrated automation systems into their practice have found that it significantly benefits their operations as well as data management. It is a key part of their long-term data handling plan.
Many of today’s laboratories have limited automation capacities that may only consist of a standalone instrumentation (such as a robotic liquid handler) or several small islands of integrated automated systems that have extremely limited workflow or data communication between each technology island. Current and future laboratories will depend more and more upon computers, integrated instruments and automation to perform many of the functions that lab staff perform. As a result, we can expect an increase in the need for laboratory automation systems.
Institutions can only move forward if management and technology providers work together in the planning and implementing of automation lab systems. Managers must see where automation fits within the lab’s informatics planning by looking at the complete technology life cycle. They need to do more than buying a “quick fix” product that only solves a single issue or process step or buy expensive instrumentation and automated systems that only solve half the issues and process needs. After all, you don’t want to get stuck having a system that requires further updating or replacement, as it did not meet the initial or future needs. There needs to be a shift away from isolated data stations and database systems to a more integrated and effective laboratory-wide data system.
Integrated Laboratory Automation and Data Key Three:
1. Implement procedures, systems and software that make data movement and sharing more achievable and efficient. This also means developing data interchange/communications standards through the entire lab process with automation software for laboratories.
2. Your laboratory management needs to implement and support policies and procedures that deliver the groundwork for automation systems. Until these policies and procedures are implemented , proper lab automated system design and selection may not be optimal.
3. Work with vendors and automation engineers that specialize in the technology and implementation of laboratory automation systems. Once the automation Engineers understand your science and process they can better recommend properly designed automated systems that will include the software needed to control your systems and efficiently handle the data. This can greatly improve the integration of your informatics/information environment.
4. A planned and organized approach can reduce costs and allow employees to work more effectively when the laboratory automation systems and associated software assist in operations.
5. We can assist in the development of labs where computerization/automation/software form the basic groundwork for the lab’s operations. This can be done at any lab, new or midway through development.
Prepare and Plan for your Lab Automation Project
1. Create a laboratory wide comprehensive automation plan based upon your specific application, science, processes and procedures and any expected future changes
2. Analyze and justify all potential benefits that laboratory automation systems will bring to your organization. “What are the measurable improvements/” These could include cost reductions, improvement of productivity, decrease in cycle times, free up staffing resources, error reduction, improved quality, improvement in the lab’s overall operations, as well as many other factors.
3. Create and share an implementation plan on how automation is going to be integrated and how it will change your current processes. Automation will change how many employees work and interact with science and technology. They will shift from performing many manual tasks to becoming more of managers of technology.
You can always expect modification and adjustments to be made as more information and recent technologies come out. However, with all of these tools, you can begin to understand what you need from a vendor. They can act as a valuable resource for questions you may have regarding automation and information technologies.