Laboratory Equipment Innovations

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EquipN-18Where technology once followed innovation in laboratory equipment, today tech has broken into the lead to guide innovation. There are a myriad of reasons that science is plugging in to advanced technology – an abundance of evolution, necessity as teams become more widespread, and even as insurance for smooth integration of future lab components. With sustainability still taking precedent over other features, explains Tim Studt of LaboratoryEquipment.com, investing in the newest connectivity solutions in the lab now prevents disruption of workflow in the future. Many high-tech laboratory components can also signal their need for cleaning, replacement or upgrades automatically, preventing user error or neglect from shortening their useful life spans.
 
Laboratory Equipment: New vs Familiar Findings
According to Studt’s cited poll, a surprising 33% of respondents reported that they expected significant change in “communications” lab equipment, closely tailed by “automation” at 32%. This is in stark contrast to static equipment, such as “liquid handling” and “mixers and stirrers,” which come in at a range of 3% to 8% . The transparency in research reporting offered by equipment that automatically records and shares findings with a given team is an enticing prospect to busy labs, who undoubtedly see them as a measure to cut time and effort out of the necessary steps of research. Automation, a natural companion to communications upgrades, uses machinery and programming to offer users precision to produce accurate, repeatable results in any given experiment.
 
More Connections, Less Wires
Peter Svensson of LaboratoryEquipment.com mentions that M2M, or machine to machine, communication is gaining ground in labs across the country. The ease with which telecommuting teams are able to gather and compare data, as well as the lack of many errors caused by manual recording make this type of communication a must for the modern lab. In addition, case studies of the so-called Internet of Things from logistics and warehousing applications have shown promising success, increasing both productivity and efficiency in their respective quarters. Even simple, common laboratory equipment can benefit from this wireless M2M, such as PH monitors used in multidisciplinary lab settings. Beyond the obvious connectivity benefits, a lack of wires also helps streamline the infrastructure of equipment networking, keeping dangerous cords out from underfoot and complex systems comparatively easy to relocate or dismantle.
 
Beyond the Lab
The need for equipment-researcher connections doesn’t stop at the lab doors, either. Mark Whiteley, RIBA recently discussed the importance of versatile, connected research buildings surrounding the labs themselves, tying the work and environment into one that fosters collaboration – both carbon-based and otherwise. Modular construction that allows fast reconfiguring of connected workstations facilitates both work discussions and dynamic “landing pads” for visiting teams and collaboration partners within the building as a whole as well as the lab.
 
As with most science and research, there is a distinct trend towards looking forward and preparing for future needs as opposed to restocking yesterday’s tools. Expect, Studt maintains, to see communications and automation equipment playing a much larger role in lab equipment in the years to come. As clipboards are swapped for iPads and physical experimentation for computer modeling, tomorrow’s labs will need lab equipment that’s ready to interface with the technology evolving around it.
 
 
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