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Journal of Automatic Chemistry
Volume 14 (1992), Issue 2, Pages 59-63
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/S1463924692000142

Jumping into the 20th century before it is too late: is laboratory robotics still in its infancy?

Atherosclerosis and Vascular Biology Research Department, Sandoz Research Institute, E. Hanover , New Jersey 07936, USA

Copyright © 1992 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Successful management of laboratory robotic automation programmes in the environment of research and drug discovery within the pharmaceutical industry may perhaps be best compared to a chef preparing the perfect hollandaise sauce. All the ingredients must be available at the same time and be of highest quality for the right price. However, if components are not added in the right quantities and in the proper order, no amount of whipping together by the product champion will create the best product. In the past, managerial scepticism surrounding useful implementation of cost-effective, high-throughput robotic systems often placed these ‘modern toys’ at low priorities for research development laboratories. Management now recognizes the unique contributions of robotics in the research environment. Although the scientific director must still play the role of product champion, new questions are being proposed and new commitments are being made to bring the potential of robotic automation to every laboratory where repetitive functions can benefit from new applications. Research laboratory directors have become both the key ingredient, as well as the rate-limiting determinant in the development of new applications. Having fulfilled the promise of robotic automation to release talented personnel, the challenge now is for the ‘end users’, the bench scientists, to be provided with opportunities to invest the time and effort required for future applications and new career functions.