CEO SUMMARY: It was the fifth “International Conference on Laboratory Automation and Robotics.” Over the past decade, this meeting, started by the pioneers of clinical laboratory automation, has been the major forum to meet and discuss advances in all aspects of automation. This conference is not widely-known in North America or Europe, although the conference
Laboratory AutomationSkip to articles
Laboratory automation is a multi-disciplinary strategy to research, develop, optimize and capitalize on technologies in the laboratory that enable new and improved processes. Laboratory automation professionals are academic, commercial and government researchers, scientists and engineers who conduct research and develop new technologies to increase productivity, elevate experimental data quality, reduce lab process cycle times, or enable experimentation that otherwise would be impossible.
The most widely known application of automation technology is laboratory robotics. More generally, the field of automation comprises many different automated laboratory instruments, devices, software algorithms, and methodologies used to enable, expedite and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of scientific research in laboratories.
Automation can be implemented throughout a lab. Starting in the mid-1990s, several commercial laboratory companies and a handful of hospital laboratories took the plunge and installed total laboratory automation (TLA) systems in their high volume core laboratories.
Today, hundreds of clinical pathology laboratories in the United States have turned to laboratory automation as one approach to improving quality, reducing turnaround times for lab test results, to save money, and to improve staff productivity. Interest among clinical laboratories in automation is at an all-time high.
The cost of such TLA systems, however, often leads labs to opt instead for modular automation, which generally consists of consolidated analyzers, integrated analyzers, modular workcells, and pre- and post-analytical automation.
Another automation option is an island of automation, in which a single robotic system or other automatically operating machine functions independently of any other machine or process. Islands of automation offer the lab more flexibility in designing the workflow, and can also perform labor-intensive or hazardous tasks.
The application of technology in today’s laboratories is required to achieve timely progress and remain competitive. Laboratories devoted to activities such as high-throughput screening, combinatorial chemistry, automated clinical and analytical testing, diagnostics, large scale biorepositories, and many others would not exist without advancements in laboratory automation.
Many clinical laboratories are implementing automation solutions as a substitute for manual labor, due to the largest workforce shortage in the history of the medical laboratory industry. Appropriate use of integrated workstations, automated analyzers, and TLA systems all make it possible to re-assign the lab’s most skilled staff members to responsibilities that contribute much higher value.
The development of laboratory automation systems (LAS) would not be possible without sophisticated laboratory information systems (LIS).
CEO SUMMARY: For laboratories with automation equipment from Lab-InterLink, the sale of the troubled company to Cardinal Health is good news. At the same time, interesting questions are triggered by this development. What plans does Cardinal Health have for the laboratory testing marketplace? Was Beckman Coulter bidding for Lab-InterLink as a way to acquire the
CEO SUMMARY: It was right before Thanksgiving weekend when LAB-Interlink laid off most of its staff and was left with a skeleton crew. Since that date, at least one major laboratory customer was unable to get needed service and parts, causing a total shutdown of its automated line. However, other customers of LAB-Interlink report no
CEO SUMMARY: It’s an uphill struggle at LAB-Interlink, based in Omaha, Nebraska. Short of funds, staffed with only a few employees, and urgently seeking capital, the company has so far managed to avoid filing for protection under bankruptcy laws. It is an unwelcome turn of events, since, in past years, LAB-Interlink was considered one of
CEO SUMMARY: To date, only a handful of total laboratory automation (TLA) projects have been implemented in Great Britain. One of those first TLA projects is at the Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead, located in the northern suburbs of London. Design work started in 1998 and the first phase became operational in 2000. Despite Britain’s single-payer
CEO SUMMARY: Mastering lab automation is more difficult than it appears. The first-ever “Lab Automation Boot Camp” is assembling experienced lab administrators who have experience (and scars) in automation and are committed to telling the real story about making automation successful. It’s a “no-spin zone” where truth is the goal and there is balanced reporting
CEO SUMMARY: Single-handedly, Cytyc Corporation has built the market for thin-layer Pap smear testing. Executives at TriPath Imaging are now ready to challenge Cytyc’s dominance by offering what they believe is a different value proposition to labs: an automated liquid preparation system married to an automated Pap smear screening system that can read both thin-layer
CEO SUMMARY: Many hospital labs are evaluating laboratory automation options. The fastest-growing problem which needs an answer is the shortage of trained medical technologists and technicians. At William Beaumont Hospital’s new laboratory, selective workstation and modular automation solutions were chosen as part of a master plan to reduce overall lab testing costs and minimize labor
CEO SUMMARY: Evidence grows that workstation automation and modular automation can be cost-effective solutions in the clinical laboratory. But the newest generation of automation technology presents lab administrators with a new challenge. Financial analysis and workplace reengineering are now essential skills for success. Lab managers who fail to upgrade their capabilities will find themselves at
CEO SUMMARY: Here’s an interesting combination of expertise. LAB-InterLink has one of most sophisticated process control software products for running automated laboratory systems. Its acquisition of Labotix, resulting in the largest installed base of lab automation hardware in the United States, now allows it to combine proven hardware and software into a single automation solution