Automation solutions are quite commonplace in most lab animal research facilities today. These solutions can increase the speed, efficiency, of the overall process while improving worker safety. It’s no wonder that automation is extremely advantageous to this industry. However, finding a good automated solution provider is essential for numerous reasons.
First and foremost, automated solutions are typically a costly investment depending on the size and equipment needed. Of course, the cost of automation pays off in the long run – but it is a large investment upfront.
Second, finding the right automated system and implementing it into specific practices is extremely challenging. An unqualified solution provider can make the transition of integrating automated systems even more difficult, especially if the systems are not well-designed.
The market for automated solutions is expected to grow by 7% through 2023 – so investing in this technology is crucial for facility operations. Therefore you need to make sure you have a qualified solution provider to meet your facility’s needs.
Here’s how to find one.
#1. Evaluate Your Company’s Needs
There are many automated solutions designed for life science industry usage. Before you make any inquiries into these tools, it is highly recommended that you have an idea of what you need. This will help to narrow down the solution options so it won’t be as overwhelming of a process.
There are two ways to approach this evaluation.
a. Service and Process Needs
First, determine which services and processes you want to automate. Many time-consuming or tedious tasks can be automated with specific equipment. For instance, automated solutions for animal research facilities can take over bedding handling, washing, drying, and sterilization processes.
b. Desired Outcomes
The other way to determine which automated solutions are needed is to evaluate and determine the desired outcomes. If you are looking to make your facility more energy efficient, you will need automated systems that require fewer resources.
Another desired outcome could be to improve overall efficiency. Automated systems can help to reduce human error in laboratories by up to 86%. This, in turn, helps to lower costs by reducing wasted materials, saving time, and allowing lab technicians to focus on other tasks.
Having a solid idea of the types of equipment or services your facility needs will help you find an automation solutions provider to fulfill them. Be sure to have other key information determined, such as:
- Fulfillment deadlines
- Spatial restrictions
#2. Check The Provider’s Accreditations
Since the automated solutions industry is quickly growing, there are many providers out there claiming to offer similar services. However, partnering with an automation solution provider is a decision that cannot be taken lightly.
Look for signs of the provider’s expertise in your specific niche of the life science industry. Take the time to do a little bit of research to find signs that they are reliable and knowledgeable.
For instance, check to see which organizations (if any) they are affiliated with. These types of recommendations from trusted associations are a good indication of their trustworthiness.
Another indicator of a good automated solution provider is their experience working with other facilities in the life science industry. Take a look for case studies or mentions in scientific journals and other publications regarding their work. It is best to find resources with statistical evidence of their work. Information such as percentage reductions in process times or cost savings are important factors to note.
Lastly, call their references. Their previous clients can not only attest to how the project went, but what it was like to work with the automation solution provider.
#3. Inquire About Customized Solutions
Depending on your facility’s needs, customized solutions may be required to fit physical space limitations or specific applications. Some automated solutions (such as washers) are quite large to fit material carts loaded with big items, like cages. However, this may not be necessary for your lab if you do not use that type of equipment.
Custom solutions are made to fit these needs so that no unnecessary features are added. Some stations can even be designed as modules that fit together to form an entire system for specific tasks.
For instance, our team at BetterBuilt created a semi-automated system to replace a robotic system for cleaning cages in an animal research facility. This system included seven integrated components:
- Soiled Queue Station
- ActivADS – Automated Dump Station
- ActivSDS – Soiled Diverter Station
- BetterBuilt T236 Tunnel Washer
- BetterBuilt D236 Bedding Dispenser
- Sure-Vac S260 Soiled Vacuum Removal System
- Sure-Vac S270 Clean Vacuum Supply System
This design fulfilled every need for the client, without any extra bells and whistles.
Working with an automated solutions provider that can customize systems is a definite advantage. You want to work with a provider who can accommodate and troubleshoot various types of challenges your specific facility may face.
4. Make Sure Their Solutions Push You Forward
Ultimately, the purpose of integrating automated systems is for improvement and innovation within your laboratory. Automation is the future of the life science industry – if you aren’t getting on board, then you will quickly fall behind.
So, a crucial element to choosing an automated solutions provider is partnering with one who will keep you ahead of the game. Technology is constantly changing and improving. Although you may not always need the latest system for your lab, it is wise to work with a provider who offers cutting-edge solutions.
Automated systems can vastly improve your facility operations and are both energy and cost-efficient solutions for most applications. But the best way to ensure that you are getting the most out of your systems is to work with a qualified solution provider.
At BetterBuilt, we’ve been providing laboratory animal facilities in the life science industry with innovative solutions for over 70 years. We only offer state-of-the-art equipment and automation is our specialty.
If you are interested in learning more about custom solutions and other automated systems, reach out to our team online or give us a call at 888-553-0855.