During the world's leading medical trade fair (held through Nov. 17 in Düsseldorf, Germany), the company is displaying its vision of field sample handling at its booth in Hall 3, stand D95. Using the compact handling system, Festo is showcasing customer-specific solutions for safe automation in the field of handling liquids and gases.
The company focuses on the development of system solutions for medical technology and the automation of laboratory processes. Festo’s approach involves the joint development of engineering concepts together with the customer right from the earliest planning phase onwards. Individual validated process steps can thus be reliably transformed into automated process sequences which can be perfectly integrated into an overall system. "In view of the double-digit growth rates in this field, medical technology and laboratory automation has been a separate business area at Festo since 2015 and is being continuously expanded," said Dr. Frank Jacob, head of Business Area Medical Technology and Laboratory Automation at Festo.
The days when processing individual samples inevitably meant manual processing are past. The pressure on laboratories is continuing to grow: "Not only are results required ever more quickly from an ever growing number of samples, it is also necessary to guarantee traceability and reproducibility. Manual work practices can also cause mistakes like sample mix-ups, and there is the risk of the samples becoming contaminated. Automated processes minimise errors and ensure process reliability and consistency in the handling of samples," Jacob noted, in explaining the situation in laboratory medicine.
Ready-to-Install Solutions for Sample Handling
Festo is presenting the compact handling system at Medica. Company representatives are using it to demonstrate its vision of the future of laboratory automation in the field of sample handling with, for example, the automated opening and closing of individual sample vials, the handling of vials as they are removed from or placed in a sample carrier, and the removal and addition of liquids in the microlitre range. This is a ready-to-install solution which can be integrated quickly and easily into any system. Furthermore it incorporates an OPC UA interface and is thus future-proof for Industry 4.0 in laboratory automation.
Another display shows pre-analytical process steps for sample preparation. From separating the sample to identifying, opening, and removing it as well as transporting the microplate, all process steps can be automated and linked thanks to the camera, dispensing and gripper system. What makes this solution so special is that third-party components can also be easily integrated thanks to predefined interfaces.
Flexible and Precise Dispensing of Liquid Media
Diagnostic laboratories are facing a steadily increasing volume of samples that need to be tested. The new modular dispense head from Festo simplifies and speeds up the processing of samples. Festo will be showcasing the dispense head VTOE for liquid handling at its stand. From the single-channel dispense head, for example for manufacturing dilutions, adding nutrient solutions or dispensing reagents, to the eight-channel dispense head perfectly tailored to dispensing liquids in microplates thanks to its compact stacking dimension, it opens up many opportunities.
Accurate Dispensing and Control of Gases
Festo uses modern piezo technology for handling gases, and is demonstrating the new oxygen-compatible proportional flow control valve VEMD. It is characterised by very compact designs, low power consumption and high precision. It is also very light and quiet, making it ideal for ventilator breathing devices and other portable and patient-related applications, for example.
A supplier of automation technology, Festo develops components and system solutions which enable laboratories and the manufacturers of medical equipment to operate even more productively, reliably and cost-effectively in the future.