Working with Industry for the Future of Lab Automation

Martin Perkins

4th July 2017

Agilent 7200 GC/Q-TOF, Automation, Dr Hannah Florance, Metabolomics, UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology, University of Edinburgh, Workshop,

Figure 1: Personalised Metabolomics Solution at the Synthetic and Systems Biology Lab at the University of Edinburgh – ‘Scotland’s Beastie’ affectionately known as ‘Stella’.


On June 8th, the UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology in Edinburgh, hosted a thought-provoking workshop to explore the possibilities for lab automation with Anatune, a leading provider of lab automation.

Anatune have been working with Dr Hannah Florance, a Metabolomics Specialist at the Centre, to design and support an analytical solution for the automated sample preparation of biological material prior to analysis by GC/Q-TOF.  Hannah and her colleagues currently use the system to carry out a range of tasks prior to direct injection into the Agilent 7200 GC/Q-TOF including solvent extraction, derivitising extracted materials and preparing calibrants for standard curves.  The modular setup – more affectionately referred to as ‘Stella’ (see photo above) – is highly flexible providing the potential to automate the whole process from extraction to detection.

Attended by 12 mass spec experts from across the region, the focus of this collaborative workshop was to explore the impact of lab automation and benefits on current lab practice and research in bioscience and biotechnology as well as other market sectors including food and fragrance, fast moving consumer goods, water and environmental technologies, pharmaceutical and forensics.  Representatives from academia, industry as well as industrial biotechnology specialists tired of carrying out tedious and lengthy sample preparation and analysis techniques met to discuss and share ideas on the potential benefits of lab automation.

The group spent some time discussing the benefits of automated set-ups including:

  • Freeing up more time for thinking and downstream in-depth analysis.
  • Providing a faster and broader scope for  method development and validations.
  • Reducing sample preparation with better control over incubation times.
  • Reducing exposure to nasty chemicals.
  • Flexibility to carry out a variety of projects for colleagues both within and outside of the University who use similar sample preparation steps and require the high quality data provided by accurate mass GC/Q-TOF.

If you want to know more about lab automation possibilities for your own lab workflows then please call Anatune on 01223 279210 or email:  Alternatively, if you would like to contact Dr Florance to enquire about preparation and analysis of samples at the University of Edinburgh then please either call 0131 6506044 or email:

Anatune serves analytical chemists in the UK and Ireland who wish to improve on turnaround times, reduce cost per sample and improve the data quality observed with manual sample preparation.  Anatune integrate automated sample preparation with Gas Chromatography (GC), Liquid Chromatography (LC) (Mass Spectrometry) and Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry (SIFT-MS) to provide flexible and reliable analytical on-line/in-line, real time and process analysis solutions which generate high quality data on a daily bases.