The benefits of Lab Automation
Labs today are under increasing pressure to improve their diagnostic accuracy whilst processing higher workloads at a faster rate.
These pressures are fostered within an environment of:
- Growing test volumes
- Cost cutting needs
- Staff shortages
Indeed, in regards the latter point, The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science, notes that it is increasingly challenging to maintain the necessary level of lab technologists as a result of the increase in demand for lab services as well as the fact that vacancy rates exceed the number of graduates.
Implementing automation can subsequently dramatically improve performance and enhance efficiencies across multiple areas.
Prior to reviewing the benefits of automation, it is important to note what lab automation is today. AZoLife Sciences defines it as the “use of instrumentation to perform laboratory processes, requiring minimal human input” and can be used from a mere single step in a process all the way through an entire workflow. It is a myth that the benefits of automation are restricted to large, high throughput labs. The fact is that any lab – of any size – that engages in any repetitive activity can reap the subsequent rewards.
What benefits does automation bring to the lab?
There are a number of benefits for labs including:
- Increased productivity and scale
Simply put, lab automation equipment can operate significantly faster than any human. With that speed, comes increased productivity. Relieved of repetitive processes such as pipetting, staff can now focus on other value-add activities simultaneously. Automation equipment can run 24-7 and scaling up is also no longer limited to working hours/days and staff availability. Subsequently tests can be run at a larger scale, results turned over faster and patient outcomes improved.
- Greater reproducibility
Reproducibility and consistency in results are important for the credibility of labs. Human error – a significant risk in all labs – can, however, negatively affect both. Lab automation eliminates that risk and permits for enhanced precision and repeatability.
- Cost savings
There are a number of myths surrounding the investment needed for lab automation. Many are under the impression that you need hundreds of thousands of dollars and as such are unable to see the cost savings that can result. The reality is that it is far more accessible and affordable than most think. Cost savings are realized through time saved, less errors, reduced waste and enhanced productivity. Moreover, consider the cost of scaling operations without automation where labs are limited to staff numbers and working hours.
- Better staff satisfaction
US labs are already facing issues with staff shortages and vacancies that cannot be filled fast enough. Roles that are dull, repetitive and onerous run the risk of lower staff morale, boredom and indeed more vacancies. Furthermore, there is a good argument for maximizing the value of your team members and allowing them to focus a majority of their time on more meaningful, stimulating and value adding work.
- Enhanced safety
Accidents do and can happen in labs. We are human after all! Automation instruments result in less errors and don’t get tired and as such can greatly enhance safety within a lab.
When implemented correctly, lab automation can greatly benefit labs of all sizes. At MESLO, we are passionate about bringing lab automation to the forefront and making it readily available. Get in touch to see how our solutions can help you reap the benefits of lab automation.