MRO Magazine

Automation leads to gains for testing laboratories in an era of remote operations


Operations

October 11, 2021
By Maryam Farag


Industries

Frost & Sullivan’s latest article, “Transformation Strategies for Achieving the Environmental and Food Safety Testing Lab of the Future,”, analyzes the value that automated testing technologies can bring to brands in an era of remote working. It gives labs a deep understanding of the current market environment and where they need to start on the automation lifecycle.

“Industry 4.0 technologies seemed like a pipe dream in laboratory testing services, even until 18 months ago. Although forward-looking analytical instrumentation vendors started infusing advanced automation technologies into their instrumentation, testing labs were yet to be convinced of their business case,” said Kiran Unni, Vice-President, Industrial Technologies, Frost & Sullivan. “However, with COVID-19 accelerating the digital transformation of businesses, stakeholders all along the supply chain have begun to adopt robotics and sensors to remotely monitor the testing processes and results.”

“As we design our next generation of instruments, we are looking to incorporate more sensing technologies to give users a truly digital experience,” said August Specht, VP of R&D for Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry, Thermo Fisher Scientific. “Our solutions will address the customer demand for increased workflow automation through robotics and automated algorithms that can connect the user to the instruments remotely. The testing systems will also meet the need for superior diagnostics, better data access for users all over the world, and remote training for employees and customers.”

Overall, testing technologies that simplify remote operations will be pivotal to labs’ digital transformation for several reasons:

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  • As food supply chains become global, food testing labs must adhere to local and international governing rules.
  • Laboratories need to ensure quicker turnaround times to keep pace with demand.
  • Modern data analysis and software that can generate rapid and accurate reports will expedite flag reviews and enhance the capabilities of the testing laboratory.
  • A shortage of personnel with the right background and training has intensified the need for more advanced automation technologies.