Many laboratories, needing to upscale their workflow, have found laboratory automation a costly and difficult option. On looking to develop an affordable entry-level system that provides sufficient functionality, Peak Analysis & Automation, a leader in the industry for the design and manufacture of automated laboratory equipment, consulted with the low-cost automation specialist igus. The result is the S-LAB automated plate handler, a small-and-place machine that is compatible with up to 300 different laboratory instruments.
Dr Malcolm Crook, Technical Director at Peak Analysis & Automation says: “Redefining how automation works, the S-LAB eliminates the need for costly bespoke hardware and software, providing a reliable ‘plug and play’ solution for single instrument loading.” Designed for easy installation and out of the box use, this small automated plate handler can process up to 100 standard or 30 deep-well petri dishes. It also handles up 80 lidded petri dishes, providing sterility for cell-based assays.
One of the main requirements for this piece of equipment was its small size to enable it to fit on a standard laboratory workbench. As such, it was also envisaged that it had to operate quietly as technicians would be working close by. The compact base unit is a robolink joint, which acts as a turntable rotating at between 6 and 7rpm, and on top sits a drylin belt drive, which moves up and down at a speed of 200mm/s – both of which operate smoothly and quietly.
As the controller and software are embedded within the plate handler itself, connection to a separate PC is not required. Set up is via a smart web-based application that can be run from any device; this eliminates the need to teach positions and the onboard camera enables easy instrument alignment and verification.
Dr Crook adds: “An extra benefit of using igus low-cost automation is that all the moving elements are lubrication-free, which means that the equipment needs no maintenance and, because there are no lubricated parts, it does not attracted dust or dirt, making it easy to clean.”
For more information about igus low-cost automation, please visit www.igus.co.uk/costeffectiveauto.