Sustainability is a key concept in our modern era. But what does it mean, and why is it so important? Many view sustainability as caring for the environment and preserving resources for future generations. This involves using green technologies and renewable energy sources. However, sustainability goes beyond just these aspects. It also involves making the most efficient use of human resources and workflows.
Even in the field of life sciences, sustainability is a growing concern. New laboratories strive to be sustainable by adopting environmentally friendly methods to reduce waste and energy consumption. They are also finding ways to optimize human resources to minimize their environmental impact.
In this regard, digital products and liquid handlers play a critical role in achieving these sustainability goals. One example of their support is facilitating manual pipetting workflows and making common repetitive tasks easier. By integrating digital tools, laboratories can enhance their sustainability efforts and work towards a more eco-friendly future.
Figure 1: Pipetting with tablet application PlatR
For example, in molecular biology, various techniques like PCR, qPCR, and ELISA require precise and accurate pipetting for successful experimental outcomes, which can be time-consuming, labor-intensive, and prone to human error, not to mention material costs in case a full microtiter plate has to be discarded. However, technological advancements have paved the way for innovative solutions that can help reduce error rates and create stress-free workflows.
What can you do to improve the sustainability of manual pipetting?
Manual pipetting, a common practice in laboratories, often presents challenges for laboratory personnel, whether using manual pipettes or electronic pipettes.
Human factors like fatigue, distractions, and lack of experience can lead to errors, compromising experiment accuracy and reproducibility. Moreover, as stated above, pipetting is time-consuming, requiring skilled personnel to invest significant effort and long periods of time. These factors affect productivity and increase material consumption, as errors may lead to experiment repetition or disposal of valuable samples.
Precise and efficient manual pipetting enables significant economic savings to laboratories and contributes to environmental sustainability by reducing waste generation. Additionally, it conserves energy and minimizes the utilization of single-use plastics commonly employed in manual pipetting workflows. Simultaneously, it fosters standardization and reproducibility, ensuring reliable results and improved data quality across experiments.
In summary, accurate pipetting contributes to sustainability in the following manner:
- Decreased occurrence of errors
- Reduced usage of chemicals
- Reduced disposal of plastic
- Time savings for laboratory personnel
- Enhanced work efficiency
It’s very hard to address all the above factors, but that is exactly what led BioSistemika’s business development team to develop a digital product Pipetting Aid PlatR. To improve the sustainability of pipetting and sample preparation, PlatR offers semi-automated pipetting processes and promises to revolutionize molecular and cell biology workflows. This innovative tool not only reduces material (e.g. chemicals and consumable plastics) and human resource consumption but also contributes to sustainable practices in the long run. PlatR is an affordable solution comparing to other automated liquid handling systems, and is compatible with any manual or electronic pipettes.
What is PlatR, and how it impacts sustainability?
PlatR is an easy-to-use tablet application for reliable pipetting to 96- and 384-well plates, including white plates and strips. PlatR navigates users while pipetting on microtiter plates by illuminating the wells according to their pipetting plan.
It was developed to improve sustainability in laboratories: to help lab staff in research, diagnostic, and clinical laboratories improve pipetting efficiency and reliability and enable stress-free pipetting tasks. PlatR can be used by all lab personnel, regardless of their experience and industry (including life science). It also enables easy workflow for pipetting plan preparation, navigation using a barcode scanner, traceability, quality control, time stamps, and seamless integration with Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS), enabling efficient data transfer and paperless workflows.
PlatR enables laboratories to save time, lower costs for expensive reagents, and reduce plastic waste.
A visual representation illustrating the cost savings for pipetting 96- or 384-well qPCR plates with PlatR can be seen in the chart below.
Figure 2: Graphical representation of annual cost saving for pipetting 96- and 384-well qPCR plates using Pipetting Aid PlatR. Calculations were made assuming that 1 person pipettes 3 qPCR plates per day.
Calculations on the savings for pipetting 96- or 384-well qPCR plates with PlatR on multi well plates can be seen in the table below.
Table 1: Representation of annual cost saving for pipetting 96- and 384-well qPCR plates using Pipetting Aid PlatR. Calculations were made assuming that 1 person pipettes 3 qPCR plates per day.
|Pipetting days per week
|Annual savings (EUR) for 96-well plate
|Annual savings (EUR) for 384-well plate
The calculations above are based on the average hourly rate for EU and USA technicians and the average kit prices for qPCR. We have included the average error rate (1.5% for 96-well plates and 2% for 384-well plates) and performance boost (30% faster pipetting) and assuming that the year has 46 effective weeks (excluding the average national Holidays and vacations for EU and USA).
The error rates used in the calculations were derived from user feedback and the accumulated pipetting experiences of individuals, with consideration given to the fatigue factor.
It is worth highlighting that experience and adherence to best practices can greatly benefit pipetting proficiency with manual pipettes. We invite you to read our blog post for additional resources to delve deeper into proper pipetting technique and approaches (including pipette calibration and choosing the right pipette tip): 12 Tips to Improve Your Pipetting Technique.
Calculate your laboratory savings
The example above is merely one illustration of how PlatR, semi-automated liquid handling system, can contribute to your journey toward sustainability. In reality, numerous possibilities exist, as each laboratory has distinct workflows and methods. For example, who will perform the experiment, and how many hours will be dedicated to doing it?
To provide insights into your situation, we developed an intuitive web calculator that enables you to estimate the annual savings in laboratory material and labor costs using semi-automated liquid handling system PlatR.