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 something like a liquid handling robot brings to a laboratory, it also brings a different set of commonly 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. The robot may in fact be doing exactly what the user told it to do, but is that really what the user wanted? One may say that the real question is, do you really know how your robot is behaving, and particularly, do you really know how your robot is performing your assays?
This poster presentation is a follow-up to a poster we previously presented which discussed real case studies of how liquid handlers were performing, or rather misperforming, certain commonly employed test procedures. Herein we presents even more examples of the importance of monitoring various commonly employed tasks, which are likely considered mundane and often assumed to have little bearing on overall robot performance. Specific examples that will be presented include: 1) proper pre-wetting of tips, 2) performance comparison between different robots running the same protocol, 3) protocol differences between high volume and low volume dispenses, and 4) effect of delivery mode. 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.