Robotic lab automation is making progress and removing some of the labor in laboratories, but rarely is it replacing all functions, according to Kalorama Information.
The healthcare market researcher said the most common use of robots is partial, but that the number of labs using them is on the rise.
Lacking robotics and other types of automation, laboratories may not be able to keep up with the pace of testing, the complexities of new tests, such as those involving molecular diagnostics, and the loss of experienced technicians and technologists.
The finding was made in Kalorama Information’s latest study, Robotic Lab Automation.
Joe Constance, author of the study, says: “Total lab automation may be appropriate for large-size laboratories, it is not suited for smaller laboratories.
“It can lead to an increase in the total cost of automation. Moreover, it gives many laboratories little option for future planning, especially if it turns out they do not need to have extensively automated.”
To establish themselves in the market place, robotic systems vendors must increase productivity and efficiency at laboratories while also helping them to cut costs and errors, and improve productivity.
To do so, robotics must prove itself as a solution that can address and optimize work flow and many of the phases involved in clinical diagnostics, such as sample collection and sample processing.
Some of the issues addressed by the report include:
- aging lab work force;
- aging population requires more testing;
- personalized therapeutics;
- molecular diagnostics;
- direct-to-consumer laboratory testing; and
- cost containment efforts.
The report says that much emphasis will be placed on modular robotic automation, which is extremely important for laboratories looking to speed their workflow to keep up with the increasing number of tests, including molecular tests.
Robotics are finding use in many laboratory processes, ranging from the capping and de-capping of sample bottles to high throughput screening.
One of the major challenges facing market growth involves the limited adoption of automation and robotics – 10 per cent or less of automation – by small and medium-sized laboratories – those laboratories that process fewer than 100 tubes on a daily basis.
Constance says: “Investing in laboratory automation systems is an expensive proposition, and may not be affordable to small and medium-sized laboratories, even if it is a one-time investment.”