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Automated pH Testing: Prioritizing Accuracy and Effectivity within the Lab

Life sciences analysis and diagnostics are producing increasingly knowledge yearly by growing throughput. Labs that don’t adapt are being left behind.

Guide pH testing is likely one of the most time-consuming and error-prone duties on the bench. Between standardizing meters, equilibration time, and probe cleansing, testing even a handful of samples usually requires a disproportionate period of time to finish. This vital time requirement may result in measurement variability, notably if samples can’t be examined concurrently or by the identical technician.

Automated pH meters have been developed particularly to handle these ache factors and reduce the workflow bottlenecks and errors related to measuring pH in giant numbers of samples. In doing so, labs of all sizes have elevated knowledge high quality, compliance, and effectivity whereas benefiting from a speedy return on funding (ROI).

Latest technological advances and elevated competitors between automated lab gear builders have elevated the standard and flexibility of kit whereas lowering its worth, making high-value, entry-level automated pH meters extra accessible than ever.

Maximize effectivity and eradicate bottlenecks

Automating pH measurements has two main results within the Lab:

1) Bettering the effectivity of lab employees

2) Rising the general productiveness of the diagnostics or analysis program

pH measurement automation will increase lab personnel effectivity straight by permitting employees members to delegate the monotonous, time-consuming activity to an automatic system. This frees up time for lab employees to carry out different crucial capabilities within the lab, together with knowledge evaluation and reagent preparation. These are duties that can’t be automated as simply. Lab employees are sometimes very happy to delegate these tedious lab duties to robotic methods that aren’t liable to boredom or fatigue.

Automation can nearly eradicate the potential for pH measurement variability by performing all pH exams on the identical time and in the very same method (Determine 1). Whereas delegating monotonous duties to inexperienced, much less educated, and cheaper staffing choices could appear engaging for some lab managers, variability or errors in pH measurements can rapidly erase any perceived good points when experiments fail, or measurement variability masks refined results in an experiment.

Determine 1. Variations in day-to-day variability. The graphic on the left depicts giant day-to-day variability between measurements versus the graphic on the appropriate, which illustrates a smaller quantity of day-to-day variability in measurements.

Automation enhances lab productiveness by eliminating throughput bottlenecks, permitting this system to course of and take a look at extra samples and generate extra knowledge. As life sciences diagnostics and analysis develop into more and more high-throughput, cell tradition, phenotyping, and drug discovery protocols usually require automated assessments to effectively decide pH at completely different time factors throughout an assay.

Automated applied sciences have elevated the potential throughput and total productiveness of labs worldwide; granting companies are taking discover. Elevated pattern numbers improve the statistical energy of experiments, permitting researchers to uncover extra refined results which may in any other case go undiscovered. Many granting companies will prioritize funding for labs that combine new applied sciences geared toward growing analysis and diagnostic productiveness and effectivity.


Enhance knowledge high quality and compliance

Let’s face it: points with knowledge high quality usually stem from human error.

For instance, failure to take care of and clear the electrode between samples could make pH readings vulnerable to errors from contaminants and carryover from earlier samples. Much less-experienced technicians may improperly calibrate handbook pH meters or fail to calibrate them in any respect, leading to inaccurate pH readings (Determine 2). Downstream lab personnel deciphering datapoints might not understand how or if the pH meter was calibrated or cleaned correctly when deciphering experiment outcomes, which may compromise the accuracy of complete research.

Determine 2. Inaccurate pH measurements are sometimes attributable to consumer error.

Lab personnel may get gradual or inaccurate readings from a pH meter with a dried electrode. Distractions may cause technicians to depart the bench briefly, solely to return again to a pH meter with an electrode bulb that has been sitting out within the open for a lot too lengthy. Rehydrating the electrode takes quarter-hour, if carried out in any respect.

Automation can eradicate these consumer errors by persistently cleansing and air-drying the electrode between samples, calibrating the electrode, and storing the electrode bulb within the applicable storage resolution between measurement runs. As mentioned within the earlier part, automating pH testing moreover decreases measurement variability.

Moreover, some laboratory purposes require compliance with FDA 21 CFR Half 11 to make use of digital information and signatures to automate and streamline quality-control checks and guarantee traceability. Many automated pH measurement methods supply gear and software program compliant with 21 CFR Half 11, together with the entry-level Hudson Robotics Rapid_pH automated pH meter, making compliance reporting extra easy than ever earlier than.

Weigh the prices and advantages of pH automation

Excessive-throughput automation can show extremely helpful to life sciences analysis and diagnostics. Not like legacy testing gear, automated testing gear is designed to deal with the massive variety of samples and fixed measurement required for large-scale pattern processing and evaluation.

The commonest barrier to automating pH measurements is the up-front price of an automatic system. Most lab managers and directors, nevertheless, are shocked to learn the way inexpensive and versatile an entry-level system will be, notably for plate-based platforms. Entry-level methods have the additional advantage of requiring few, if any, infrastructure modifications as they usually sit on a laboratory bench away from high-traffic areas.

It is necessary for lab directors to totally perceive the long-term good points of automation within the lab earlier than dismissing automated methods outright (Determine 3). Whereas few research define precise greenback figures or payback durations to find out the ROI for varied lab automation methods, platforms equally enhance the price and time effectivity of scientific and analysis labs.

Histology labs that incorporate automation, for instance, get well the upfront and any related infrastructure prices of platforms by lowering the lab personnel prices required to finish a selected activity, comparable to pH measurement. Whether or not these hours are eradicated from the lab funds or recovered through the use of these hours for different much less routine duties, the time and price effectivity of the lab improves and productiveness will increase.

The second-way lab automation reduces prices is by nearly eliminating consumer error. Extra particularly, the standardization of measurements by automated platforms will increase testing uniformity, lowering variability as a consequence of sampling variation between technicians and consumer error and fatigue. Whereas figures don’t exist particularly for decreased error charges for automated pH measurements, automated bar coding and different workflow standardization in histology labs can lower sure errors over 50% and slide errors as much as 90%.

Determine 3. The ways in which lab automation can enhance effectivity and improve knowledge high quality within the laboratory.

Automation may pay dividends in much less tangible methods, comparable to shorter workflow cycles and protocol turnaround instances. This may end up in improved buyer satisfaction and personnel productiveness, extra environment friendly analysis, and decreased consumable and reagent prices as a consequence of much less waste related to consumer error.

Estimate return on funding

One method to decide the cost-associated ROI over time is to estimate the quantity of FTE saved by implementing lab automation platforms. By dividing the variety of FTE required for testing by the amount of testing carried out earlier than and after lab automation (Determine 4), management can roughly estimate the payback interval of a selected automation platform. As a reference, the Hudson Rapid_pH platform can take a look at a single 96-well plate in between one hour and ten minutes and one hour and 45 minutes.

Determine 4. Evaluating the personnel prices of testing per unit quantity earlier than (B) and after (A) lab automation.

As a result of personnel prices are one of many highest line gadgets in any lab funds, any stage of automation has the potential to reap vital total financial savings. Histology labs, for instance, have been in a position to scale back prices by as a lot as 8.8% per processed slide by integrating automation and modestly lowering consumable and reagent use. For example, a $75,000 automated platform designed to label tubes has a payback interval of solely 2.8 years if one technician delegates the labeling of 400 tubes to the platform 5 days per week.

Moreover, automation can improve the quantity of testing that happens outdoors of regular working hours. For labs accustomed to processing and testing samples in the course of the typical workday, automation can considerably improve knowledge acquisition and productiveness.

Think about pH automation choices

Not each laboratory wants full automation of a workflow or complete automation of a lab, however managers and directors usually desire lab gear with the flexibility to adapt to new and altering protocols and combine with different methods over time.

Automated pH platforms are designed to finish the calibration, stabilization time, measurement, rinsing, drying, and recording of the pattern pH outcome. Right now, automated pH measurement platforms exist as a single, standalone machine or will be added as a operate of an autosampling system with further testing elements and software program. Nevertheless, present autosampling methods work with a lot bigger volumes than most high-throughput codecs, limiting their practicality in lots of lab settings.

In distinction, methods that automate solely pH measurement are designed round commonplace SBS (Society for Biomedical Sciences) pattern plate sizes which are extra suitable with high-throughput purposes. The Hudson Rapid_pH, as an example, can adapt to measuring 24 to 96-well plates and volumes as little as 75 ml. The platform may take a look at samples in deep-well tradition plates as much as 50 mm in peak.

Robotic pH measurement platforms may also be outfitted with further options relying on the necessities of a selected assay. Each autosampling methods and high-throughput automated pH meters will be fitted with distinctive pH probes explicitly designed for measuring extra viscous samples and wash methods that may totally clear the probe between samples. A static wash effectively may also be added to methods the place detergent washing or sterilization is required between measurements.

Protocols that require pH measurements at completely different temperatures (Determine 5) may also be accommodated by introducing a temperature-controlled warmth block and temperature compensation software program to the robotic platform. The Hudson Rapid_pH system moreover presents FDA CFR 21 Half 11 compliance software program for labs that require digital reporting.

Determine 5. Temperature-controlled warmth block in a Hudson Robotics Rapid_pH automated laboratory pH meter.

Many producers of lab automation options have designed a whole suite of merchandise and software program to automate widespread workflows within the lab. With growing competitors out there, it’s essential to pick lab gear that may be paired with gear options from different producers when protocols change or further automation is required. Lab automation scheduling software program, comparable to Hudson Robotics SoftLinx, can interface with gear from a wide range of producers to open and shut microplate doorways, run a selected protocol, test instrument standing, learn the run output, and make responses primarily based on measurement outcomes.

Lastly, automation gear must be straightforward to make use of and require little coaching time: automated options are designed to avoid wasting personnel time, in spite of everything. Corporations promoting automated lab gear could possibly present potential consumers with contact data for labs which have bought and used their robotic lab options. Connecting with labs with comparable workflows and built-in automated platforms may help managers higher perceive the professionals and cons of utilizing particular devices on the bench.

Excessive-throughput analysis and diagnostics are revolutionizing the life sciences and accelerating the pace of discovery. Automating routine duties like pH measurement can profit labs in varied methods, together with price, time, and reagent financial savings and extra constant, greater high quality knowledge. Smaller labs have extra high-value, entry-level choices for lab automation than ever, and elevated competitors has made pricing far more aggressive within the final decade. Very similar to pure choice, labs should select to adapt or endure the implications in an more and more aggressive panorama.

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