Written by Lisa RoozendaalContent Creator

Breda, 24 January 2023
More and more new technologies and innovations are being developed to make laboratory work more accurate, more easily reproducible and more efficient in order to expedite scientific discoveries. As a result of these developments, the automation sector is growing rapidly. We can identify a number of trends that (will) have a major impact on the development of the automation sector and which will contribute to the accuracy and efficiency of scientific research.  

As experts in the field of laboratory automation, we have studied these trends and mapped out the changes they will bring about and the effects they will have. We believe artificial intelligence, mobile robotics, unification and sustainability will have the most significant impact on our sector. In this blog, we will take a closer look at how these trends will affect the development of the laboratory automation sector. Use these insights to your advantage!  

Artificial intelligence
The first trend we see in the world of automation is that of the rise of artificial intelligence. Using artificial intelligence (AI) to process data sets that are overlooked by automation will result in the development of new prognostic models. For example, machine-learning algorithms are used to analyse experimental data in order to detect trends and patterns and made predictions regarding these data. Scientists will have access to more comprehensive information, which will allow them to make better informed decisions. The use of AI will result in more efficient and effective data storage methods, which will in turn lead to an improved research experience. It will be easier to interpret research results. Last but not least, more efficient data storage also facilitates rapid knowledge transfer.

Mobile robotics
Mobile robots boost productivity. For that reason, they are an increasingly popular tool in many laboratories. They can operate 24/7 without human intervention and make it possible to attain a higher level of agility and flexibility than would otherwise be possible. They can operate between different platforms and perform a wide variety of simple tasks, giving human scientists more time to focus on more complex tasks.

More and more laboratories are working to unify different automation platforms. This may involve integrating different types of equipment, standardising data management systems and protocols or implementing shared communication and control interfaces. The goal is to improve the efficiency, accuracy and reproducibility of laboratory research and simplify the exchange of data and results between different research groups or departments. The unification of automation platforms is already a hot topic; more and more lab equipment and platforms are expected to be unified as time goes on.  

Ever more measures are being taken to make laboratories more environmentally friendly and sustainable. For example, many laboratories are trying to reduce their energy consumption by using energy-efficient equipment and lighting and turning equipment off when not in use. Additionally, more and more water-saving measures - such as recycling water - are being implemented. In recent years, the growing availability of cleaning equipment has also resulted in a significant reduction of the one-time use of plates and tips. This has led to a demonstrable reduction of the use of raw materials and a smaller environmental footprint. Furthermore, we are taking measures to produce less waste. These range from properly disposing of hazardous chemicals to reducing the amount of packaging materials used and using reusable containers. The growing use of automation equipment in laboratories also contributes to sustainability. Automation equipment is highly accurate, which reduces wastefulness. Furthermore, it is possible to program the amount of material that a piece of automation equipment uses, which leads to reduced material usage. By implementing automation systems and taking various measures designed to improve sustainability, it is possible to significantly lower the environmental impact that laboratories have. This trend of making laboratories "greener” will continue in the future.

As this article has shown, the laboratory automation sector is growing rapidly as a result of emerging technological developments, the growing demand for more accurate and efficient research, the need to adopt more sustainable methods and the call to make laboratory processes more efficient. Artificial intelligence in particular is expected to have a major impact on the laboratory automation sector. The possibilities of AI are endless, allowing any lab to utilise this technology in myriad innovative ways. As long as technology continues to develop, new automation opportunities will continue to arise.