NEWSLETTERChoosing the Right Liquid Handling Robot for Your Lab: A Comprehensive Guide

Welcome back to the ABLE Insights! The laboratory automation landscape is rapidly evolving, and researchers in 2023 must stay informed to make the best decisions for their labs. In this issue, we'll guide you through the top five steps to choose the perfect liquid-handling robot that matches your lab's needs, enhances efficiency, precision, and future-proofs your operations.

Step1: Define Your Needs

Start by understanding the nature and volume of samples your lab works with regularly, as well as the complexity and repetitiveness of the tasks you carry out. Automating complex or high-repetition experiments can greatly improve efficiency and accuracy. This process will help streamline your decision-making and ensure you choose a robot designed to handle your specific operational needs.

Key points to consider include:

  • Type of Experiments: Are you running high-throughput assays or complex protocols that would benefit from automation? Automation is particularly useful for tasks that are repetitive or require precise handling.
  • Type of Pipette: The pipettes used by your liquid handling robot need to suit your experimental needs. Different experiments might require different types of pipettes, and your choice of robot should be able to accommodate these.
  • Need for Special Features: Depending on your lab environment and the nature of your experiments, you may require special features such as a gripper for handling labware or a HEPA filter to maintain sterility.
  • Number of Decks: Consider how many decks or positions your robot should have. This can be influenced by the number of samples or labware types you need to handle simultaneously. An adequate number of decks can help ensure seamless operation and higher throughput.

By clearly defining your needs, you can identify what features and specifications are crucial for your liquid handling robot and make a more informed decision.

Step2: Evaluate Your Budget

Investing in automation is a strategic move designed to boost efficiency and accuracy in your lab. But it's vital to ensure the investment aligns with your financial capabilities. When evaluating your budget, consider the following factors:

  • Initial Purchase Price: Consider the upfront cost of the liquid handling robot. Higher-priced models typically offer more functionalities and sophisticated software. Be aware that the most expensive option is not always the best fit for your lab.
  • Operational Costs: Beyond the initial purchase price, remember to factor in the running costs. This includes consumables, regular maintenance, energy usage, and potential repair costs.
  • Return on Investment: While lab automation requires an initial financial outlay, it should be viewed as a long-term investment. The increased efficiency and accuracy, reduced error rate, and time savings will deliver returns over time.
  • Financing Options: Some vendors offer financing solutions that can ease the budgeting process. Leasing options or payment plans can make even the most sophisticated equipment accessible to labs operating under budget constraints.
  • Future Expansion: Plan for future growth and scalability. While it's important to find a solution that fits your current budget, opting for a system that can grow with your lab could save further investment down the line.

Balancing cost with capabilities is crucial. While it might be tempting to go for the most cost-effective option, it's important to ensure the system you choose is capable of meeting your lab's operational needs.

Step3: Assess Vendor Capabilities and Support

The quality of a vendor's customer service and their support capabilities can significantly impact your lab's experience with lab automation. Key considerations should include:

  • Reputation: Start by assessing the potential vendor's reputation in the field of lab automation. This could be through reviews, testimonials, or word-of-mouth recommendations.
  • Training: Automation systems can be complex, and your team may require training to operate them effectively. Ensure the vendor offers comprehensive training programs to facilitate a smooth transition to automated workflows.
  • Ongoing Support: Evaluate the quality and accessibility of the vendor's customer support. Are they able to provide timely responses to queries? Do they offer remote or on-site support for technical issues? Good support services can help maximize the utilization and longevity of your liquid handling robot.
  • Maintenance and Repair Services: Regular maintenance can optimize the performance and lifespan of your equipment. Check if the vendor provides maintenance services or has provisions for repair in case of breakdowns. Timely maintenance and repair are essential to minimize downtime in your lab operations.
  • Customer Experience Team: A dedicated customer experience team, like the one we have at ABLE Labs, can be invaluable in managing the entire customer journey. From pre-sales questions to post-purchase support and upgrades, they ensure you have a consistent point of contact who understands your needs and can provide personalized service.

The right vendor can do more than just sell a product - they can be partners in your lab's success. By considering these factors, you can choose a vendor who will support your lab's journey towards effective automation.

Step4: Consider Scalability and Future-Proofing

Automation is a significant investment, and it's important that the system you choose is able to grow and evolve with your lab. When considering scalability and future-proofing, take into account the following:

  • Scalability: Your chosen liquid handling system should have the capacity to handle increases in workload. This might involve handling more samples or performing more complex protocols. Make sure the system can be expanded or upgraded as your lab's requirements grow.
  • Modularity: A modular system design provides flexibility, allowing you to add or replace modules to incorporate more functionalities. This can help keep your lab at the forefront of technological advancements without needing to replace the entire system.
  • Integration with Other Systems: Your liquid handling robot will likely need to interact with other lab equipment. Make sure the system you choose can be easily integrated with existing or future equipment to ensure seamless workflows.
  • Software Upgrades: Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and software quickly becomes outdated. A system that allows for regular software updates will ensure that your lab stays updated with the latest functionalities and security features.
  • Vendor's Future Vision: Understanding a vendor's roadmap for their product can provide insights into the future capabilities of the system. It also indicates the vendor's commitment to continuous improvement and staying at the forefront of technology.

By choosing a system with scalability and future-proofing, you not only meet your lab's current needs but also ensure the capacity to expand and adapt as those needs evolve.

Step5: Request a Demonstration

Before making a final decision, it's crucial to see the liquid handling robot in action. A demonstration allows you to directly assess the system's capabilities and its fit with your lab's workflow. Here are some key considerations:

  • Capabilities Verification: A live demonstration allows you to verify the robot's capabilities. You can see firsthand how well it performs tasks similar to those it would handle in your lab.
  • User-friendliness: During a demonstration, you'll get a sense of how user-friendly the system is. Assess the interface, the ease of programming tasks, and the general ease of use.
  • Workflow Integration: Use the demonstration to assess how well the robot would integrate into your lab's existing workflow. Is it the right size? Does it interact smoothly with other equipment?
  • Performance under Real Conditions: A demonstration provides an opportunity to see how the robot performs under conditions that mirror your lab's environment as closely as possible.
  • Interaction with Vendor: The demonstration is also a chance to interact with the vendor, ask questions, and get a feel for the level of support they offer.

A live demonstration provides invaluable insights and ensures you're making a well-informed decision. By experiencing the robot's performance firsthand, you can be confident that it's the right fit for your lab's needs.

Embracing these five steps can ensure that your laboratory makes the best decision for its unique needs in 2023. The right liquid handling robot can enhance your lab's efficiency, precision, and cost-effectiveness, ultimately leading to faster and more accurate results.

What's Next?

In our next issue of ABLE Insights, we will be sharing a customer success story that vividly showcases the potential of lab automation. We'll provide an in-depth case study of how ABLE Labs' liquid handling robot helped a biotech startup significantly increase their productivity and reduce costs.

This issue will take a close look at how our automation solution was integrated into their workflow, the challenges they faced, and the benefits they realized. This real-world example will offer valuable insights for any laboratory considering the adoption or optimization of automation.

Further, you'll hear directly from our customer, giving you firsthand insights into their journey with ABLE Labs. Through their story, we hope to demonstrate our commitment to customer success and how our liquid handling robots can make a significant positive impact on laboratory operations.

Don't miss this upcoming issue where we dive into the tangible benefits of lab automation. To ensure you don't miss out on this and future updates, subscribe to ABLE Insights. Stay informed about the latest advancements in lab automation and learn from experts in the field.

We're looking forward to sharing this success story with you, demonstrating the transformative power of effective lab automation.

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Copyright Ⓒ 2024 ABLE Labs Inc. ㅣ ABLE Labs ㅣ12th fl., 13-39, Songdogwahak-ro 16 beon-gil, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, Republic of Korea ㅣ ㅣ 032-202-3555