If you are in the market for a new liquid handling station, it may seem at first to be an overwhelming task. That is because the market is flooded with a wide range of robots specifically designed for this purpose. However, on closer examination there are many nuances that differentiate each product, not just their price. It’s important to invest in the right liquid handling robot to best serve your pipetting requirements. To make your task less difficult, here are some tips, so you will not over or underspend, and acquire laboratory equipment for your liquid handling automation needs that will serve you well both now and in the future:
1. What applications do you need liquid handling automation for?
Know your needs: list all the liquid handling applications that are performed in your lab. This way, you are creating a checklist of tasks to benchmark against your robot ‘finalists’ until you locate the bot that fits your laboratory requirements and your budget. On your search, you may be conflicted by price and the range of processes a given robot can perform. Only you can make the decision as to how important one aspect or feature is over another, so take your time and consider carefully.
2. Beware of limited use products
It may seem at first glance that the market is flooded with options. But look again, and look closer. Do not allow price and your budget to be your sole considerations. That is because certain brands only permit scalability/interchangeability with their own products. That means, if you buy a lower priced robot, you may be expected to also purchase ancillary components from the same manufacturer or be satisfied with a robot that has a limited range of performance options. Another caveat is that these additional components add up quickly in additional costs. Now that bargain robot is not so inexpensive to operate after all. That is another reason to start with a checklist of your needs. It not only avoids the ‘kid in a candy store’ syndrome where one can overspend for equipment they will not fully utilize, but also saves money in the long term by buying just what you need, and anticipating requirements in the near future.
3. Know how crucial it will be to your work process
Check the product’s track record. Who is the manufacturer? How well regarded is this brand in your industry? Will your new liquid handling automation robot prove to be the workhorse your lab requires, or will it require routine maintenance to avoid breakdowns and downtime? There is no point in spending money on a system so delicate that it has to be sidelined in favor of manual pipetting to prevent work stoppages. In the event that there are technical issues, be sure to research beyond the system’s capabilities. What kind of technical support is available? And if so, is it live 24/7/365 support or ticket-driven?
4. Consider ease of use…
When evaluating automated liquid handling automation systems, your considerations should not begin and end with the equipment’s features. A big ask is how intuitive the system is to use. Not all scientists and laboratory technicians are experienced in working with automated systems. If your system is intended for every day or even occasional use, will it require a user training program, or be ready to use right out of its packaging? The purpose of automated systems is to save time, which in turn reduces operational costs. No system saves money if it is allowed to collect dust.
5. What do your peers/competitors think?
Over the past few years, more and more consumers have turned to product reviews prior to making a large purchase. While not furniture or a car, get into the same mindset you’d use when considering a major purchase for yourself or your family. Turn to online product reviews. Perform some online searches, scan the websites associated with your field, and read up on the latest and best liquid handling automation stations currently available. Yes, there will be planted reviews, but these are usually easy to spot- as always, if it seems too good to be true, it likely is. Seeking peer reviews will also educate you in ways that product descriptions or demonstrations won’t. Interactive fluid handling robots have been around for some time now, and there is sufficient testimony as to the effectiveness, and downfalls, of most available products. Do a little digging, and you could potentially avoid making a costly mistake. Do not rush into a decision you might regret later. Take your time, collect as must intelligence about a product or products as possible before selecting the right system for your laboratory.
6. We’re Neutec Group and we’re here to help
We cannot over stress the need to take your time, do your homework/research, and now, be sure to ask questions. If you need more information about a product, reach out to its manufacturer and do not be afraid to ask for more in-depth intel.
We recommend that you schedule a meeting with one of our specialists. Let us help you weigh your options, provide a real-time demonstration, whatever it takes to introduce you to the liquid handling automation equipment that will best serve your lab’s needs.
At Neutec Group, we are always happy to chat with you. Contact us today.