The Rapid Micro Blog

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Automating the Micro QC Lab (Part 3)

In continuation of my conversation with Steve Delity, President and CEO of Rapid Micro Biosystems, on the benefits of automation in the pharmaceutical microbiology lab, I asked him to share advice he gives to companies considering an automated vs. a non-automated method.

Michael - Moving from a manual operation to an automated lab is a significant leap. How would you advise companies that are considering using a non-automated rapid method initially, then moving to a more automated option?

– When I speak with companies considering either an automated or non-automated rapid solution, I try to help them explore a few areas. First, I look to uncover where they expect to find the greatest benefit. Certainly, rapid detection provides a clear advantage to the current, manual method in reduced time to results, and not surprisingly, that is the benefit I hear most often. But, as we continue to explore the operation, companies start to realize there are other considerations that need to be addressed. For example, there are risks inherent in any manual process, even a rapid method, such as data entry errors or inconsistency of processes. Could that decrease confidence in the “non-automated” rapid method?

The second area I try to understand is the impact to the operation of the rapid method. Will the “non-automated’ rapid method add steps to the already cumbersome manual process? If there are additional steps, how will that affect the ability for the lab to handle current and future sample workloads? Will there be an increase in resource requirements in the lab, and therefore and increased cost? I often speak with businesses that focus too much on their need for a rapid method, and overlook these types of impacts, missing opportunities for additional benefits through automation.

It is important for the business to understand both the benefits and shortcomings with a non-automated solution. The right answer will be different for each situation, based on how these attributes are weighted. Companies considering both non-automated and automated rapid methods should weigh the importance, benefits and risks to find their optimal solution. And for those technologies that can provide both rapid results and automation, businesses can get the best of both worlds.

In the final part of this series, we talk about automation and validation. Stay tuned.

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