The Importance of Liquid Handling Details and Their Impact on Your Assays


The introduction of automation into biology and chemistry labs has arguably lead to significant advances in testing capabilities over the past 20+ years.  Automation has certainly led to increased numbers of experiments, as compared to manual testing, particularly for pipetting operations.  Because of this advantage, liquid handling robots have become commonplace even in small laboratories.  However, in spite of all the advantages that liquid handling robots bring to the laboratory, they can also bring sometimes overlooked challenges.  It may be argued that the largest challenge presented by using a liquid handling robot is the potentially incorrect assumption that the robot is doing what it is “supposed” to be doing.

This presentation focuses on understanding the behavior of automated liquid handling systems and highlights the need to ensure quality in assays performed with such systems.  Examples will be given highlighting the importance of monitoring various commonly employed tasks, which are likely considered mundane and often assumed to have little bearing on overall robot performance.  The examples presented herein will help users to think more about the specific tasks they are asking their robots to perform, and hopefully uncover certain steps that, if observed and controlled, will result in better performance.

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