How To Automate Your Lab, Part 1: Myths and Benefits

Lab automation for liquid handling is complicated -- but it doesn't have to be. Here are the biggest benefits - and myths - to know about lab automation.

This post is an excerpt from our 18-page "Introducing Automation To Your Lab" e-book. Click here to download the e-book.

Dispelling The Myths Of Lab Automation

“Repetitio est mater studiorum,” says the Latin proverb: “Repetition is the mother of all learning.” Scientists live this ancient saying every day, winning hard-earned discoveries by repeating the same process over and over. In some cases, this simply builds a large enough sample size to create statistical significance in the results. In other circumstances, researchers subject different samples to the same procedure or similar samples to different conditions. All of these techniques include a common factor—repetition. To a life scientist holding a pipette and sitting in front of a pile of multiwell plates, the word repetition really hits home. Repetitive processes can be the most painful part of a workflow—but they are also, thankfully, ideal processes to automate.

Many researchers like you have dreamed about automation while pipetting hundreds of samples, but believe it is too complicated, too costly, or too high-throughput to have in their lab.

That simply isn’t true.

This e-book debunks these and other myths of lab automation (see “Figure 1: Busting the Top 5 Automation Myths”), and shows that robots can be a great help for the majority of wetlabs.


If you want to explore the idea of automating some repetitive processes in your lab, this e-book will help guide you toward figuring out if automation is right for you.

If you’re curious about automating liquid handling, use this ebook as a resource to help you walk through every step and learn more about this technology. You can start by learning about the sorts of workflows that really benefit from automated liquid handling (and those that don’t), and then explore a wide range of capabilities that should be considered when choosing the right robot for your lab.

A liquid-handling robot’s range of technical capabilities must meet the variety of ways that scientists use them. In Lab Manager’s “2017 Automated Liquid Handling Survey Results,” the top uses included serial dilution, plate replication and PCR setup, as well as plate reformatting, high-throughput screening and whole-genome amplification. Nearly 30% of respondents purchasing an automated system are first-time buyers, but that number is on the low side: at Opentrons, for example, nearly 70% of our customers are new to automation. Automation is more accessible than ever and many labs are adding robotics for the first time -- and you can too! All you need to do is learn some basics and you’re off to the races.

That’s why we created this guide.

Chapter 1: Overall Benefits Of Lab Automation

When put together in an efficient and effective way, automation improves liquid handling in many respects.

When put together in an efficient and effective way, automation improves liquid handling in many respects. First, scientists will save time when they don’t need to do pipetting on top of all their other lab work. Second, automation increases throughput and enables efficient workflow scale up. Third, automation allows for greater accuracy from each liquid-handling step to the next because it minimizes human errors that would normally be introduced in the workflow. Fourth, you get a receipt at the end of an automation run—meaning, you can keep very close tabs on exactly what has happened to your samples, and producing data in this way enables more sophisticated analysis. Fifth, humans don’t do well with repetitive motions; our joints get injured when doing the same action over and over. Automation frees researchers of repetitive stress injuries often associated with pipetting.


As a lab accrues all of these improvements from automation, lab personnel are free to do other, more meaningful activities in the lab—like data analysis, experiment design, and writing up results for publication.

Getting all of those benefits, though, emerges from some pretty complex technology and processes. Even more, making the decision to move from manual pipetting to automated liquid handling can be simplified. Scientists must consider many things—in their own labs and in the automation market—but this e-book makes it easy to get started. When automation makes the right fit with a research group’s liquid-handling needs, life in that lab changes for the better—results become more accurate and repeatable, running experiments gets easier, and productivity increases dramatically.

This post is an excerpt from our 18-page "Introducing Automation To Your Lab" e-book. Click here to download the e-book.