Sample Preparation – Why Wouldn’t You Automate?


11th March 2022

Automated Analysis, Automated Analytical Solutions, Automated Sample Prep, Automated Sample Preparation, Automation, GERSTEL,

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As the UK’s leading provider of automated analytical solutions, over our 25 years in business we have heard every opinion about automation in the laboratory many times. And it is clear to us that there are a number of myths around automated sample preparation that may deter users from investigating the solutions available to them.

Automation is nothing new and is now present in all aspects of life – from the button that opens the car window (remember when you had to wind?), vacuum robots and smart speaker systems to controlling the heating from your phone. To some extent all of us routinely use automation.

So why wouldn’t you automate your laboratory sample preparation procedures?

Here we take a look at some of these myths and our responses to them based on 25 years of experience with automation.


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We are not high throughput – we don’t run enough samples by a single method

Although automation undoubtedly helps with throughput of samples, there are many other benefits to automated analytical solutions. There are the improvements in repeatability compared to manual procedures which leads to better data and easier method development with less variability (eliminate operator ‘technique’).

The flexibility of the GERSTEL systems enable several methods to be automated and run together – you can even select the sample prep method for specific samples by barcode.


It will put someone out of a job

In almost all cases automation of sample preparation leads to an improvement in workflow for lab users and a better use of analyst skills.

Having to manually conduct routine, repetitive tasks can lead to high staff turnover. Automation removes this risk and allow skilled analysts to concentrate on the actual analysis, not sample prep. By letting the robotics do the simple stuff, staff skills can be better exploited and increased, and analysts can spend time doing those tasks requiring human skills such as data interpretation and communication with customers.

Automation also improves health and safety by ensuring less manual handling of solvents and reagents, while wasting less solvent has environmental benefits for the laboratory seeking to be as sustainable as possible.


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It’s too expensive

We have many case studies illustrating how quickly an initial capital purchase will pay for itself. These may be based on a higher throughput of samples – meaning more profit or reduced cost per analysis.

Automated sample preparation of methods often result in miniaturization and hence a reduced use of solvent and reagents which can lead to considerable cost savings. In some cases it may negate the need for fume cupboards and reduce the bench space required which can both have significant annual savings for most laboratories.


We don’t have the skills to use the automated systems

Remember when you first got a smartphone? Did the thought of operating it put you off? Everyone uses automation (who has the skills now for manual GC injection?) and the automated analytical solutions provided by Anatune are designed around you and optimised for your needs.

The GERSTEL Maestro software is intuitive and programmable,, meaning that with the training and support package from our highly skilled support team, our customers are able to operate the system quickly and efficiently.


It’s not reliable

Although robotic systems will occasionally need a reset (like your PC or smartphone), once set up, they will run unattended for long periods of time. Robots can run 24/7 for 52 weeks of the year and don’t have holiday or time off sick.

The vast benefits of the remote access to automated sample preparation equipment were also clearly demonstrated during the lockdowns of the past 24 months, when access to labs was limited. In this instance, laboratories were able to maintain productivity by utilising the automated solutions and in some cases control them from home. This ensured labs kept working and delivering their critical results.


So ask yourself…what’s the worst that can happen??? And remember, Anatune’s team of automation experts are on-hand at all times to answer any further queries or reservations you may have.


GET IN TOUCH today and let us help you transform the workflows, results and sustainability achieved by your lab.


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