Multipurpose laboratories require multipurpose automation solutions, explains Timon Bussinger
The sample preparation of solid samples is more demanding compared to gases or liquids. Laboratories with many solid samples face demands of high technician time, which includes higher demand for human resources. More hands-on time equals more human errors and cost. The key is to automate to reduce error and eliminate cost. Although automating tedious manual steps is usually possible, this often comes with a sacrifice in flexibility. With an innovation from Switzerland, this trade-off has been eliminated. It offers great potential for reducing costs, better data, traceability and safety for the operator, while still allowing flexibility.
When scientists think of automation of sample prep, they often think of large sample quantities, which are prepared in the exact same way and offer no flexibility in the process. In the real world, current automation products require a change of the system set-up or cleaning procedures when shifting from one sample type to another. This makes automation inflexible and difficult to justify for laboratories with a variety of sample types.
Additionally, different sample types often come with varying numbers of samples. If the manual hands-on time for setting up the automation system is higher than preparing the samples manually, the benefits of automation benefits are reduced and the cost per sample increases. Similarly, this is also true for the preparation of a single sample. However, besides cost reduction, other factors may drive sample prep automation, such as the reduction of variability, better documentation and traceability, or safety for the operator.
Flexibility in terms of automation can be summarised as: the ability to handle different samples/workflows without a change in the system setup or cleaning procedures; automating sample preparation from low (single sample) to high sample quantities; saving hands-on time not only for large numbers of samples but also for a single sample.
The Ideal Solution
Multipurpose laboratories require flexible automation without sacrificing efficiency. The accroma SamplePrep system meets all of these requirements. Its key technology is the accroTube, in which all the sample preparation steps take place. In contrast to other technologies, the sample vessel is a consumable, which avoids cross-contamination and eliminates the need for cleaning the extraction vessel. This results in a reduction of solvent usage and an increase in speed. Since the extraction vessel is consumable, the accroma SamplePrep system is very flexible, fast, and accurate, while making sample preparation traceable and safe. It’s time to rethink sample preparation for solid samples and ‘accromate’ it!
Timon Bussinger is with accroma labtec