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An OO-Framework for Understanding Flexibility of Laboratory Automation Systems

: Kumar, A.P.

Association for Laboratory Automation:
EuroLab Automation '99. Second Annual Conference and Exhibition. Final Conference Programme and Abstract Book
Oxford, UK, 1999
EuroLabAutomation <2, 1999, London>
Conference Paper
Fraunhofer IPA ()
Automatisierung; Laboratorium; Laboratory automation; Laboratory Automation System LAS; Laborautomatisierung

Volltext: Process flexibility in general refers to the ability of a Laboratory Automation System (LAS) to respond cost effectively and rapidly to changing needs and requirements. This capability is increasingly becoming critical to the design and operation of laboratory automation systems. Thus flexibility is seen as an adaptive mechanism allowing Laboratory Automation System solution providers, equipment manufacturers and the laboratory directors to effectively compete despite the volatility of their operating environments. The concept of flexibility and its strategic importance has be en a recurring theme in the recent operations research literature pertaining to laboratory automation. This talk presents a comprehensive view of flexibility and proposes a scheme for assessing "value of flexibility", a surrogate flexibility measure. It also provides a valuable conceptual foundation for the development of quantitative models dealing with economic evaluation of investments in the flexibl y automated laboratory systems. It is found that the short term changes, which are usually dealt with at the equipment level are best suited for Laboratory automation Systems. The medium-term changes predominantly involve the Process Controller in present-day Laboratory Automation Systems. These changes can be accelerated using the flexibility of OO-Frameworks. The ability to respond to long-term changes is best retained in the hands of management owing to the complexity of dealing with changes that have an impact on the entire organisation and objectives of a laboratory. The aim of this talk is to prov ide a complete picture of flexibility and a OO-Framework for future research and management decisions. Recognising the strategic importance of designing flexibility in laboratory automation, an important new concept of the value of flexibility has been introduced. Determining the value of flexibility not only facilitates consideration of flexibility as a design objective, but can also p rovide a way to justify investments in flexible Laboratory Automation Systems.