What did you find was the biggest benefit in automating your assay process? What was the biggest challenge?
This question is part of the following Ask The Expert session:
How to get the most out of automating your ELISA-like assays, dos and don’ts
Job Title: Senior Researcher for the High Throughput Antibody Discovery team
In my opinion, there are 2 big benefits, consistency in your assay process and time management of the scientists. Running assays on a properly designed and validated system provides a level of consistency that is very difficult to duplicate with manual pipetting. In an automated environment you know that every plate was handled exactly the same way as every other plate so the data, even over long periods of time, are directly comparable. Automating assay work also allows scientists to focus their attention on non-routine experiments or tasks while an assay is running in the background, effectively acting as a ‘force multiplier’.
The biggest challenge that I have experienced, especially when working with novice users, is trying to change the way some scientists think about assay development and validation in the context of automated systems. If you work with automation regularly, you have to be able to think about resource allocation within an automated system as it pertains to your assay workflow. One small change in process in an automated workflow can significantly affect the time it takes to complete. Changing reagent addition steps, or which component will do which steps requires a type of fluid thinking that can be difficult for some scientists to grasp.