Introducing automation principles into the clinical laboratory has been an evolutionary process. Automation can be divided into two parts: (1) manipulation and assay of specimens at an individual workcell, and (2) movement of specimens between the individual workcells. Constructing a workcell from an automated piece of clinical laboratory instrumentation or from a variety of subcomponents requires integration of components not commonly used in the clinical laboratory. In order to successfully complete the transformation of a workbench or analytical instrument into a clinical laboratory workcell, electronic control over the workcell including bi-directional communication of orders, errors, and other information is required. Automatic manipulation of specimens requires the addition of an articulated robot and other feedback and control devices. The ideal workcell would be viewed as a black box with serial input and output of specimens, serial input and output of orders and results, and other information related to instrument operation. Movement of medical specimens throughout the laboratory is the second component to implementing an automation strategy in the modern clinical laboratory. Most of the manipulation and movement of specimens is based upon batch paradigm with the exception of STAT specimens. In order to facilitate the movement of specimens from workcell to workcell including STAT specimens and random access to workcells, a method of moving singular specimens throughout the laboratory is required. The University of Nebraska Medical Center has devised and constructed a multi-phased project which includes development of a specimen transport mechanism which provides random access delivery of specimens to workcells. The current paradigm at the University of Nebraska Medical Center consists of a single-lane conveyor which traffics individual specimens based on a bar code identifier from workcell to workcell. A Kodak Ektachem 700C analyzer has been incorporated into the workcell which allows for robotic loading and unloading of the instrument as well as electronic control over the instrument functions. A Coulter STKS + 4 has been integrated into a second workcell which provides loading and unloading of individual specimens. A presentation of the concepts and architecture of this system will be described.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry
- Process Chemistry and Technology
- Computer Science Applications