A need for reducing pipetting injuries and meeting future demand for growth got Nordic Bioscience started on automating some of their processes. This is their story. In the clinical lab at Nordic Bioscience they are doing biomarker measurements for a large number of customers. Kishwar Musa is heading the lab and has been involved in the whole process from evaluation of robot solutions to implementation.
“With an increasing growth in the Clinical Lab and an increased focus on optimizing the work processes to meet future demands bringing automatized equipment was a natural next step for us. In addition, we also had a focus on reducing pipetting injuries among our technicians and with Flow Robotics we really saw a great opportunity to move forward.”
“At Flow Robotics we were meet by a very enthusiastic team, that gave us a thorough introduction to the robot and its capabilities. We had in the past visited other competitors with similar pipetting robots, unfortunately they had complex software that required skilled employees to code the pipetting programs whenever they were used. So, when we were introduced to a more user-friendly software and robot at Flow Robotics, we were very excited. We envisioned our technicians being able to operate the device relatively easy. “
Performing an ELISA analysis is mostly manual pipetting. Until the purchase of flowbot® ONE all pipetting was done in Nordic Bioscience by taking one sample at a time and transferring to the ELISA plate. On average a technician would have approximately 1600 clicks when testing 5 plates during a working day.
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Going from manual to automated pipetting
In the Clinical Lab the project teams usually run between 8-12 biomarkers simultaneously. The project team prepares a mother-plate where they have manually pipetted sufficient volume for the contracted biomarkers. The mother plate is then inserted in the flowbot™ ONE, which has been preprogrammed to automatically transfer sample material from the mother-plate to the pre-dilution plates. flowbot™ ONE is mainly used to prepare the pre-dilution plates.
Kishwar Musa explains how they made a successful transfer: “Whenever companies automize their processes there are always an increased insecurity among the employees regarding their job function. We have had meetings with the technicians and described the purpose of optimizing the process of performing manual tests in the lab, reducing pipetting injuries and reduce tech-to-tech variation as well as increasing the throughput.”
Helle Nielsen is a lab technician in Kiswars team and has also been part of the whole process, she says: “it was a very smooth process. The flowbots were build according to our needs and installed for us. The last one we got was delivered during the corona lock down last winter and was installed on a Sunday to minimize contact with the other technicians. We have experienced the Flow Robotics team to be very flexible and responsive. So, all in all a very good service provider.
And she continues: “The software is so easy to use, and it only took a few days before we were ready to start a validation of the robots. Our biggest issue was figuring out how we could assure audit trail on the runs we do because we work in a strick GxP environment. And for the same reason we also needed to have different types of user platforms with different kinds of access to the software, but that was also possible in the software. We have made a lot of basic methods that the teams in the lab can use, and each team now has a super-user that can make new methods that fits the study they are working on.”
And the result?
Kishwar Musa sums up what they have seen of results:” We have saved time on the manual pipetting of samples onto the ELISA plates. More specifically the hands-on time have been reduced from 2:15 hours to 20 min when running up to 8 biomarkers simultaneously in the lab. In addition, flowbot™ ONE allowed us to increase the throughput from 4-5 plates tested per technician to 6-8 plates by simply introducing the automatic pipetting device to the workflow. We have also seen a significant decrease in pipetting injuries. “
About Nordic Bioscience
Since 2013 the Specialty Lab at Nordic Bioscience has grown from 3 employees to almost 45 employees. The main business area of the Specialty lab today known as the Clinical Lab is the biomarker measurements Nordic Bioscience offer to external pharma and biotech partners. Last year the department reported 344.000 results and have had a growth of 25% yearly since the establishment. You can read more about Nordic Bioscience here