Imagine discovering that one of your company’s core liquid handling procedures has been generating variable results from one automation platform to the next, or one lab to the next. The impact could have devastating consequences for your work, if not for your career. Fortunately, an ISO quality standard has been established to help reduce the risk of this quality management nightmare becoming a reality.
Designing and manufacturing lab instruments that include automated liquid handling is challenging at the best of times, but in the face of increased demand for faster testing, it’s even more critical to select the right partner and reliable components. The global COVID-19 pandemic is posing unprecedented challenges for laboratories as they race to meet the demand for accurate, large-scale testing in a short amount of time, and without the risk of cross-contamination.
You have made the decision to enter into the development of an IVD medical device for your customers. You have learned that inviting an OEM partner into your project could be beneficial to reduce risks and fill expertise or skill gaps, but you are still hesitant. What are the key elements that you should consider to ensure the success of the collaboration?
The syringe pump is the workhorse of any automated liquid handling instrument. A single syringe pump may complete one cycle every second, and as many as 4 million cycles in its lifetime. Keeping your pump syringes and components in top condition will allow them to run smoothly and deliver their best performance. Over time, syringes may start to wear, and therefore volumetric and positional precision and accuracy are likely to decline. Maintenance and replacement will restore its performance.
The impact of pump pressure sensors on your automated liquid handling pump performance is often underestimated and underappreciated. The saying, “You don't know what you’ve got ‘till it's gone” applies to many things in life – including fluidic pumps. When device sensors are doing their jobs, the end-user will never know, but when the sensor feature fails to perform, the consequences can be costly and catastrophic. Today’s smart technologies empower pressure sensor functionality more than ever. Why are pump pressure sensors essential for automated liquid handling systems? What benefits do they offer? How do they increase functionality and address process security risks?
With high-throughput genomics impacting every corner of biology, the demand for more efficient Next-generation sequencing (NGS) workflows is growing rapidly. Automating the process of NGS sample preparation is crucial to avoid inaccuracies due to human error, bottlenecks that delay sequencing results, and the additional expense of re-running sequences. What are the most important factors for an engineer to consider when selecting a pump to meet the stringent performance required for an automated NGS library preparation system?
Today’s hematology labs are faced with escalating demands to deliver robust and accurate blood test results quickly. At the heart of automated diagnostic systems for blood analysis are liquid handling pumps, which must deliver precise and accurate results every time. As well as being reliable, they must also be affordable and easy to maintain. Unfortunately, not all pumps deliver to these exacting standards. What are the most important factors for an engineer to consider when selecting a pump to meet the stringent performance required for a hematology automation system?
From the perspective of a lab automation systems engineer, specifying the optimal liquid handling pump and associated fluidic components is often central to the design process, especially for products that will be used in a clinical lab or other highly regulated environments. What questions should you ask in order to select a pump that can handle all of your system’s intended applications? Here’s what our liquid handling experts from Tecan's OEM Partnering team have to say.
How to overcome challenges like inefficient workflow and a lack of suitably trained staff is the question increasingly facing laboratories in markets ranging from diagnostics to food and beverages. Could sample-to-answer systems be the answer?
When you design a complex laboratory automation system or device, every OEM liquid handling component that you integrate into it should be reliable, dependable and expected to perform to the highest industry standards. Subpar quality is not an option. If the intended use of the system includes critical tests for clinical diagnostic purposes, the consequences of failure or poor performance of liquid handling components could be more costly than you bargained for, including irreparable damage to your company’s reputation and even worse – it could pose serious risks to patients’ health. Integrating components into your system that are reliable and have a durable design should be an essential consideration.
The demand for advanced medical and diagnostic testing continues to accelerate. Laboratories, hospitals, and emerging consumer genomics companies are demanding quicker test sequences resulting in the design and development of new innovative and responsive test protocols. These new tests include the handling of a wide array of fluids. The measurement, monitoring, mixing, and controlling of solvents, salts, detergents, acids, bases, reagents, and additives is critical in all liquid handling lab environments.
When looking to maximize productivity in life science R&D, drug discovery, clinical studies or clinical diagnostics, laboratory automation is a crucial element. You may already have identified great solutions to automate individual applications and steps in your workflows, but unless these systems work together harmoniously, your lab’s overall productivity could still fall short of the mark. Whether your application area involves clinical diagnostics, genomics, cell biology, drug discovery, protein purification or something else altogether, we’ve identified some of the most common roadblocks to successful automation.
As sequencing grows significantly in China, how are Chinese home-grown companies making the most of it?
In December 2017, the UK and China announced a joint initiative to advance collaboration in science and innovation¹. The first bilateral science and innovation strategy of its kind to be developed by China jointly with another country, the UK-China Joint Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation builds on existing collaborations dating back to 2014, and represents yet another step change in China’s efforts to grow their leadership in healthcare markets. On the back of initiatives such as this, China’s home-grown companies are forging new partnerships internationally, and are well positioned to flourish as a result.
Always a great forum for networking and sharing information on the latest developments and trends in laboratory automation, SLAS didn’t disappoint this year. The biggest buzz in 2018 focused on the increasingly important role that genomics is playing in the discovery of therapeutic proteins and the ability to target those drugs to specific gene mutations.
When introducing a new product to the automated liquid handling market, getting there first with high quality and reliable hardware is vital to capturing and maintaining early market leadership. How can you gain that advantage when you have to balance requirements for customized high-performance robotics against an accelerated product launch?
No matter how much you invest in a liquid handling automation system, it’s next to worthless without well-designed software. The hardware and robotics are certainly critical, but it is the software that can make a big difference in how easily you can program your system, tailor it to meet your needs, and track samples securely.
An automated liquid handler for sample processing can significantly increase your productivity. It becomes even more powerful when integrated with other workflow components to enable you to create fully automated walkaway processing for applications such as sample and library prep for next generation sequencing (NGS), or cell-based assays. The question is how to choose components and integrate them.