Five reasons flexibility needs to be a standard feature of automation solutions


Particularly with CROs and CDMOs, we’re seeing a need for automating more diverse and discrete processes than just increasing throughput.

For these labs, adopting automation solutions without the right type of flexibility hinders growth and reduces competitive advantage, directly impacting revenue when customers’ needs evolve beyond lab capabilities. 

This blog explores five reasons flexibility must be at the forefront of your mind when seeking lab automation solutions.

1: Experimental needs

Automation systems need to quickly adapt to different protocols, sample types, and experimental conditions if widespread adoption is to be achieved.

Automation should facilitate innovative experimentation, ensuring they can be designed freely without restrictions introduced by technology. This also applies to data; metadata and schemas should be easily adaptable depending on the experiment or data required, not dictated by the automation being used.

2: External changes

Laboratories may need to respond to external changes such as regulatory requirements, industry standards, and the introduction of new technologies and methodologies. Automation systems should allow for adjustments to align with these changes, ensuring compliance and staying up-to-date with best practices is easy, not just possible.

3: Multi-user environments

A big barrier to successful adoption is usability, particularly regarding software. Traditional lab automation solutions may be considered hard to use with steep learning curves. This is unnecessary, especially within a hiring environment that can see higher churn rates than average, meaning users may frequently change. 

Flexible automation should promote collaboration and efficient use of shared resources and, therefore, be easy to use for labs at any stage of adoption, with or without automation experts in-house.

4: Scalability

Scalability is often the reason labs seek to automate, so any solution that is chosen should be flexible enough to scale both up and down in line with demand from new or existing clients.

We shouldn’t be in a position where automation solutions are being procured in response to specific projects or client demands and then no longer used; scalability should be at a lab level, not a project level, to future-proof investment.

5: Resource optimisation

While automation in the lab can be considered a resource on its own, it also has the power to support allocating and optimising other resources such as reagents, consumables, and personnel. 

With the right software solution, automation should also enable efficient scheduling and coordination of tasks, reducing waste and impacting the laboratory’s overall productivity.

This blog is a chapter in our latest whitepaper, Infrastructure-level lab automation for changing client demands: delivering flexibility for CROs.

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