These reasons include sophisticated technologies and relatively mundane issues. The most
noted limitations in the survey related to sample labeling systems, DNA sequencing, sample
preparation and fluid handing areas.
“We wanted to use the ‘fancy’ OTS labeling
systems, but were disappointed with the one
we bought that would no longer print labels on
good labeling material because it was past its
expiration date,” says a life science researcher in
Singapore. “We had to keep labeling the old way
with tape and Sharpies, which didn’t work well in
our -80 C freezers.” Another academic researcher
at the Univ. of Southern California revealed that
none of the available OTS labeling systems were
accurate enough for his work.
Another academic at the Univ. of Punjab,
India, noted he would like to automate the
preparation of growth medium for their experiments, but is limited in the lack of appropriate
equipment availability. “We want to automate the
preparation of growth medium so that we can
minimize the chances of contamination in our
tissue culture experiments,” he says.
Other limitations occur because of inherent
system issues. “Some of our older equipment
can’t be automated due to the incompatible older
operating system interface connections,” says a
manager of water quality systems.
“We measure the volume of irregular objects,
but no fluid- or physical-based automation system has sufficient accuracy and repeatability,”
says a consulting engineer.
Costs are always a limitation as well, even
when the desired specific lab automation
systems are available. “The cost for a system
autosampler is too high for the sample volume,”
says a public health chemist. “We can’t automate
our HPLC systems due to the high costs,” says
a Univ. of Georgia lab manager. And “we’d like
to automate the calibration process for our vacuum gauges, but currently can’t due to budget
issues and staffing,” says a product manager in
Utah. “We can’t automate our welding shop due
to the high cost of the welding equipment and
the instability of our electrical power,” says a
department head at the Univ. of Eastern Philippines.
Ultimately, sample preparation or process
complexity is also a deciding issue that limits
the implementation of a lab automation process. “We prepare solid catfish samples for flavor analyses,” says a physiologist at the USDA.
“The catfish must be purged and heated, and
The other characteristics, in increasing order
of preferences, include maximum capacity ( 2. 22),
networking ( 2. 12), integration capabilities (1.91),
initial cost (1.86), software (1.79), service and
support (1.68) and flexibility (1.66). In all these,
except for flexibility, the life scientists indicated
the specific characteristic value noted revealed a
higher importance than that chosen by the phys-
Researchers, both in life and physical science
work environments, can’t automate all the
operations in their labs for a variety of reasons.
Kim, president of PerkinElmer’s Life Sciences
& Technology Div., Hopkinton, Mass. “With the
Bio TX, we can accelerate this process to help life
science researchers make critical decisions earlier
in their development work flows.” This workstation enables column, tip and batch chromatography modes, which also eliminates the need for
The Bio TX comes in two versions, the Pro
and Pro Plus workstations. Pre-programmed
methods automate a variety of commercially
available ion exchange and affinity chromatography solutions, including miniaturized chromatography columns, resin-packed pipette tips and
resin-filled microtiter vacuum filtration plates.
The Bio TX Pro Plus presents a platform with
10X advantages in throughput and 5X reduction
in protein mass requirements over higher-scale
fast protein liquid chromatography platforms.
The capability of generating predictive data for a
variety of process development experiments with
the Bio TX presents a very usable platform that
can help accelerate the development of biothera-peutic proteins.
Different system characteristics have different
relative importances to researchers considering
the purchase of new lab automation systems.
Source: R&D Magazine