The past 18 months has been a unique experience for every business, and it has caused many companies to reassess the way they do work, (on site Vs. at home) possibly utilizing automation equipment. The term essential worker and essential work has become a common vernacular. Due to decreased staffing or the need to reduce on-site staff, many research organizations are assessing or re-evaluating the need and implementation of lab automation equipment for their processes. Whether you perform high throughput COVID-19 testing or you are performing some other type of research testing; significant cost, time, throughput, and quality can be achieved with the use of lab automation robots.
The prospect of purchasing and implementing lab automation equipment and systems for part or all your laboratory processes can seem daunting and expensive. But today’s lab automation robots can perform routine repetitive tasks faster and with fewer errors creating greater productivity. Also, automation equipment technology has developed greatly over the past 10 years, resulting in lab management having a wider variety of choices for what processes they want to automate and how much they are willing to pay. For example, the range of automation equipment costs for a robotic liquid handler can vary from as little as $5,000 up to $500,000.
The cost will typically depend on your specific needs and functionality. If you are only wanting to perform some automated liquid handling to a few test tubes to a couple of dozen plates, and throughput is not an issue, then an inexpensive benchtop automation equipment (liquid handler) may be the right tool for you. If you need higher throughput, automatic barcode scanning, plate and tip box movement, or any other off instrument processing or functionality, then you will typically be in the $70K to $300K (or more) range for a liquid handler.
When considering larger, fully integrated lab automation equipment or lab automation robots, (systems with robotic plate movers, plate storage, multiple automation equipment and instruments along with lab automation scheduling software), there is a great deal more to consider. These lab automation robotic systems require careful and thoughtful planning as capital equipment costs can soar along with year-to-year expenditures. A small, automated robot system can cost in the $100K to $300K range. Larger more complex Lab automation systems can easily go into $1MM or greater range.
These figures are just considering the initial automated equipment capital cost plus any automation integration cost. In addition to capital and integration cost there could be changes to building Infrastructure, as well as maintenance contracts, lab staff technical training, and maybe hiring your own automation engineer
If you are planning on implementing a large, expensive, and complex lab automation equipment or lab automation robots it is recommended to get all stakeholders on board (management, lab staff, technical support and even customers of the data you will be producing). Know the dollar cost as well as all the changes to your physical space and process that may be needed to accommodate automation. Also, consult with automation engineers, lab automation consultants or your automation vendor of choice to answer any question you may have.
Contact Retisoft to learn more about lab automation.