Pipetting robot automates COVID-19 sample prep
Since the beginning of May, Danish company Flow Robotics has been helping to optimise the intensive work of analysing coronavirus samples. The company’s secret lies in a liquid-handling robot that is automating COVID-19 testing processes in hospitals around Europe, significantly reducing the time it takes for laboratories to tell patients whether they are infected with COVID-19.
The robot, called flowbot ONE, is able to automate the task of preparing samples for analysis, which is about mixing liquids and chemicals. Robot technology minimises the risk of human error and contagion in the process, and reduces the physically demanding pipetting tasks for laboratory personnel around the world.
Eight Danish hospitals are now using the product for COVID-19 testing purposes, as is a German laboratory that originally purchased the robot to test for Salmonella in food. Orders have also come from Sweden, Poland, Russia, the Netherlands and Australia, meaning thousands of tests per day are now being prepared for analysis by the sophisticated robot.
Consultant physician Jens Otto Jarløv, who works at Herlev Hospital in Denmark, is delighted to be able to automate processes in his laboratory. He said, “We are really pleased that Flow Robotics can deliver their robots so quickly. They are innovative and can automate just the things we need. We are very satisfied, and the cooperation has been very good.”
Molecular biologist Martin Friis, also from Herlev Hospital, now works side by side with the flowbot ONE robot. He said, “The robot pipettes the live virus, and it can pipette several samples at once, so we are now saving a lot of repetitive work and reducing the risk of accidents.
“We already keep ourselves safe, but it is still good for us to have less contact with the live virus thanks to the robot. The risk of pipetting errors is also eliminated as a result of automation because the robot follows a pattern and avoids mistakes. All in all, this lowers the stress level for us on many fronts, so we have less hassle in our work and minimise potential errors.”
Flow Robotics CEO Annika Isaksson said her company is pleased to be able to make a difference for both hospital patients and staff. In line with its global expansion, Flow Robotics is now scaling up robot production.
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