Automating Laboratory Processes by Connecting Biotech and Robotic Devices - an Overview of the Current Challenges, Existing Solutions and Ongoing Developments
The constantly growing interest and range of applications of advanced cell, gene and regenerative therapies raise the need for efficient production of biological material and novel treatment technologies. Many of the production and manipulation processes of such materials are still manual and, therefore, need to be transferred to a fully automated execution. Developers of such systems face several challenges, one of which is mechanical and communication interfaces in biotechnological devices. In the present state, many devices are still designed for manual use and rarely provide a connection to external software for receiving commands and sending data. However, a trend towards automation on the device market is clearly visible, and the communication protocol, Open Platform Communications Data Access (OPC DA), seems to become established as a standard in biotech devices. A rising number of vendors offer software for device control and automated processing, some of which even allow the integration of devices from multiple manufacturers. The high, application-specific need in functionalities, flexibility and adaptivity makes it difficult to find the best solution and, in many cases, leads to the creation of new custom-designed software. This report shall give an overview of existing technologies, devices and software for laboratory automation of biotechnological processes. Furthermore, it presents an outlook for possible future developments and standardizations.
Schmitt, Robert H.