In this blog, we’ll discuss total laboratory automation (TLA) in the setting of the microbiology lab and its benefits over routine diagnostics.
While automation has steadily spread throughout clinical chemistry and haematology labs, clinical microbiology labs have largely been excluded from this trend. Microbiology specimen processing and culture workup remain largely manual tasks, and indeed, few changes to the methods used to perform these tasks have occurred for many years. Thanks to advancements in robotics, digital imaging and artificial intelligence the capabilities and benefits provided by TLA within the microbiology lab are being realised.
Over the past number of years, many laboratories have experienced a staffing crisis. The direct consequences of this shortage in skilled technologists leads to understaffed diagnostic labs, which is reflected in delayed results and an increased risks for patients. Understaffed labs coupled with the increasing demand for clinical bacteriology analyses is one of the primary driving forces behind the adoption of TLA.
Copan’s automation journey started in 2007. Since then Copan has designed a number of innovative systems that combine to make up WASPLab™. WASPLab™ is a preanalytical automation system that begins at the streaking phase and, combining hardware modules with integrated image analysis software, takes care of streaking, reading, interpreting, and picking activities. Being modular and scalable in design allows the flexibility to choose the modules and features that offer the best-added value for your lab.
WASPLab™ Modules for Laboratory Automation
The WASP™ is the core to any WASPLab™. It’s the modular, open platform that automates all aspects of specimen processing in microbiology, including plating and streaking, broth inoculation, and gram slide preparation. The WASP™ is capable of processing a variety of sample types including urines, swabs, sputum, faeces or any liquid sample for plating and streaking, regardless of the specimen container format.
WASP™ Key Features
- Continuous and random loading of any sample type – no need for batching.
- Smart scan technology reads barcode label for complete traceability.
- Automatically opens and closes any size specimen container.
- High throughput plating and streaking.
- Versatile protocol options: >30 streaking patterns.
- Automatic loop and tool change station – less user intervention.
- 9 silos carousel holds any manufacturer’s media plates – up to 378 plates.
- Image verification ensures accuracy and integrity of loop and presence of inoculum.
- Automatic Gram SlidePrep™
- Enrichment Broth inoculation including tube labelling.
Radian™ is the WASPLab™ module dedicated to the full automation and interpretation of disk diffusion antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST). It’s composed of two modules: Radian™ In-Line Carousel takes care of disk dispensing, ensuring optimal integration and throughput and Radian™ Expert System which leverages digital imaging and EUCAST rules to deliver accurate SIR interpretations.
Radian™ Key Features:
- Connects with the WebApp Halo Recognition image analysis algorithm and communicates with the LIS.
- 50 antibiotic cartridge carousel allows high disk dispensing flexibility.
- Deposits 1 – 8 disks/plate depending on the sample and its associated protocol.
- Delivers sensitive, intermediate or resistant (SIR) results based on EUCAST rules.
- QC checks – imaging systems scan the acronym on the dispensed disk to ensure the correct antibiotics has been chosen based on the protocol.
- WASPLab™ smart Incubators automate the entire incubation and imaging phases, according to your protocols. The smart incubators ensure optimal temperature and atmospheric conditions are reached rapidly. Uniform and stable conditions ensure better colony growth. This means faster turnaround times and delivery of results.
Smart incubators Key Features:
- Two different capacities available to suit your labs requirements.
- Single incubator: 795 plates, Double incubator: 1590 plates.
- Choose between O2 and CO2.
- High resolution 48 megapixel camera used to view plates at set times.
- 12 x microscopic zoom – making colonies smaller than 0.1 mm visible.
- Utilise various lighting to enhance image quality for media of different colours/opacity.
PhenoMATRIX™ can be considered the brain of WASPLab™. PhenoMATRIX™ utilises artificial intelligence in combination with clinical information from the LIS to automatically read, interpret, and segregate plates with the click of a button. Adding PhenoMATRIX® suite of algorithms to your WASPLab™ eases the interpretation of results and gives microbiology labs the ability to significantly shorten turnaround time to results.
PhenoMATRIX™ Key Features:
- Groups plates in folders according to your rules and LIS data.
- Summarises plate results: negativity, isolate, colony count, and workup.
- Sorted images are stored for technologists final validation.
Colibrí™ is the module that automatically picks colonies previously selected by PhenoMATRIX® TAG or by an operator on the WASPLab™ reading station. The instrument can spot targets for microbial identification through MALDI-TOF or Vitek technology and prepares microbial suspensions for Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing (AST).
Colibrí™ Key Features:
- Ensures picking accuracy thanks to synchronized vision systems.
- Equipped with an onboard nephelometer to ensure accuracy of Mc Farland standards.
- Colibrí™ can be integrated with the majority of ID/AST platforms.
- Traceability – From the originally plate to the final colony position, you can keep a full audit trail through WASPLab® integrated LIS connection.
- Automates sample workup to allow staff focus on higher-profile tasks.
Copan’s WASPLab brings a variety of benefits to your lab such as improved efficiency and specimen traceability, the standardisation of workflows, and increased safety through reduced specimen handling. Moreover, TLA enables labs to accommodate the ever-increasing demand for clinical bacteriology analyses all the while letting lab technicians dedicate their invaluable time to higher value tasks such as the analysis of complex specimens, troubleshooting, and establishing and validating new protocols.
Check out the video below to hear about the experiences of labs that have adopted WASPLab™.
For more information on Copan’s automation click here or to discuss how automation can help improve your lab please contact our product specialist below.
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