Advantages of Lab Automation in Life Sciences

Since the 1990s, researchers have been promoting the greater use of technology and automation in laboratory settings. Today, with greater advancements in machine learning and robotics technologies, the advantages of lab automation are even more significant than once imagined. The primary benefits of lab automation are: 

  • Safety. Lab automation improves the safety of researchers when working with hazardous materials or in hazardous environments. Human workers can be in a safer location while research is taking place, and can handle accidents or other dangerous situations remotely. Automation reduces the risk of common hazards like PPE failure, equipment malfunction, or accidental exposure. 
  • Accuracy. Lab automation increases the accuracy of results by reducing the likelihood of human error and avoiding manual mistakes. It generates more accurate, more reliable data. 
  • Repeatability. Like accuracy, automation improves test repeatability and authentication. Software-guided instructions can be repeated indefinitely, in a variety of settings.  
  • Efficiency. Automation allows testing to happen more quickly, improving the efficiency of lab work. It also allows human researchers to spend less time on repetitive tasks, freeing them to work on other types of analysis while automated systems are in operation. 
  • Cost reduction. Lab automation reduces costs by improving efficiency, reducing the likelihood of errors and accidents, and maximizing value-added human labor in more complex tasks. This means that labor costs are reduced for repetitive, low-skilled labor, but demand is increased for highly skilled staff who can create, manage, and work with these complex automated systems. 

In one sense, automation fulfils the goal of all scientific research: to produce results that are repeatable, reliable, and, therefore, provable and scalable. It’s no wonder that life sciences and biotech companies are eagerly embracing these technologies. 

Essential Components of Lab Automation

Like any combination of hardware and software, each individual use scenario is different. Companies using automation have integrated various aspects of the process in different ways, but most implementations use these essential components:

  1. A Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS): LIMS software allows researchers to manage samples and their associated data. Modern LIMS systems can also track instruments, processes, and other types of lab information. 
  2. Electronic Laboratory Notebook (ELN): An ELN system is software that links samples and procedures to an experimental framework, linking samples and processes to a workflow database. Such systems can be customized to build complex experiments, integrate alerts and events, or collaborate within a workplace with sharing, permissions, and other productivity tools. 
  3. Procedures and protocols. Each automated lab will have a unique set of protocols and procedures, and automation ensures that these are always followed. Protocol software helps to ensure compliance and quality of lab output and results. 

While every implementation is unique, these essential components allow for fast and complex testing, improvement of accuracy and standards, and reduction of manual labor, data entry, and other repetitive tasks. 

Because lab automation is becoming increasingly important, skilled professionals who can work with automated systems are in demand. People with experience with IT systems, life sciences, and biosciences are highly sought-after and can have great careers in various industries. Grapefrute uses creative search techniques to find the talent for this growing industry and make perfect matches. Contact us today for more information about how we can meet your lab automation staffing needs.