Lending an Automated Helping Hand
The value of laboratory automation solutions is proven, and these technologies are improving
a variety of common research laboratory tools.
efforts by manufacturing automated liquid
handling platforms and sample preparation
Often done incorrectly, pipetting can be
tedious, complex and error prone, leading
to variability, repeat experiments and poor
results. Launched in August 2013, Gilson’s
PIPETMAX, an easy-to-use automated liquid
handling platform, is a solution to the inconsistencies caused by manual pipetting and sample
preparation. Based on Middleton, Wis.-based
Gilson’s PIPETMAN pipettor, the platform
performs applications targeted to life sciences
laboratory applications. The platform features
a small footprint that can fit easily on a laboratory bench or in a fume hood, and weighs less
than 40 lbs for easy laboratory-to-laboratory
or bench-to-bench transfer. Also featuring
pre-configured or customizable protocols, the
platform allows users to select their desired
protocol, edit variables, set up trays and run the
targeted operations from a tablet. Hardware
for the platform can be customized to a user’s
needs and pipetting heads can be calibrated like
a PIPETMAN pipettor.
Handheld pipetting requires practice to
achieve steady reproducible pipetting results.
Oftentimes, laboratories don’t have time for
training their personnel as many samples are
going through their doors on a daily basis.
Integra Biosciences AG, Switzerland, has
recently introduced the VIAFLO ASSIST, an
innovative device that, in combination with a
VIAFLO II electronic handheld pipette, enables
the pipette’s protocols to be performed auto-
matically. The automated instrument keeps the
need for traditional handheld pipetting to a
minimum, relieving laboratory personnel from
activities that may cause repetitive stress inju-
ries or time-consuming training.
Typical parameters influencing perfor-
mance of pipetting are tip immersion depth
and pipetting angle. The automated pipetting
capability of VIAFLO ASSIST ensures these
parameters are consistent, resulting in increased
reproducibility and better results. To operate
the instrument, users simply mount a VIAFLO
II electronic pipette onto the pipette adapter,
choose a protocol and press the run button.
The instrument will then obtain the protocol
via Bluetooth from the VIAFLO II electronic
pipette and automatically execute it.
Hamilton Robotics, Reno, Nev., also manu-
factures automation platforms to aid in sample
preparation and liquid handling laboratory
tasks. Their recently introduced VAN TAGE is a
flexible, multi-purpose pipetting platform that
features an enhanced linear motor design and
contact-free NanoPulse pipetting technology
covering a volume range from 100 nL to 1 mL.
The platform features a space-saving, expand-
able design that can meet various laboratory
environment’s growing needs.
Laboratories requiring increased walk-away
time, high throughputs or large capacities are
able to upgrade their benchtop VANTAGE
pipettor with a Logistics Cabinet, which offers
tip and plate shuttling from below the pipetting
deck and customizable, smart waste solutions.
A telescopic, vertical Track Gripper can also
be added to the platform for the transport of
samples from below- or off-deck third-party
devices. The system provides simple assay pro-
gramming and detailed 3-D simulations and
works with INSTINCT V, a dynamic scheduler
optimized for short runtimes. INSTINCT V
Laboratory automation techniques are commonplace, as they improve the accuracy and repeatability of laboratory operations, reduce human error in these
operations and reduce cost of these operations.
Defined as the use of technology to streamline
or substitute manual manipulation of equipment and processes, laboratory automation
offers solutions for enhancing workflows in
various research laboratory environments. The
techniques are finding applications in laboratory tasks ranging from capping and de-capping
of sample bottles to high-throughput screening
of test samples. And, according to recent data
from Research and Markets, the global market
for laboratory automation solutions was valued
at $3.1 billion in 2012 and is poised to reach
$4.2 billion by 2017, with the strongest markets
in life sciences and academia.
An automated hand with
Manual sample preparation can often be inefficient, complex and time consuming, leading
to increased training requirements, preparation
time, procedural errors and operational costs.
Today, many companies, such as Gilson, Integra
Biosciences and Hamilton Robotics, are looking
to reduce the time, error and cost in manual
Mettler Toledo’s InMotion autosampler is a flexible and efficient automated sample changer for titrators, density meters and refractometers. Image: Mettler Toledo