Lab2lab overview - 3.0

lab2lab automates access to analytical instruments within a building, by providing a network of Pipes through which sample vials are transported, using pneumatics. It can be used with instruments dispersed throughout a building, or used to facilitate clustering instrumentation in one central location.  

Because of the way lab2lab works, scientists are not able to specify which instrument will analyze their sample, only the analysis to be carried out. It is therefore essential that processes or methods that are available on multiple instruments produce identical results. 

When a scientist has a sample for analysis, they simply pipette a small volume (as little as 50μl) into a lab2lab vial. These vials have a 2D barcode on their base. Using the lab2lab Client software and a barcode reader, the scientist registers their vial by scanning the barcode and entering the details of the analyses they wish to have run.  

Having registered the vial with lab2lab they then load it into a Sender unit. lab2lab detects the vial and pneumatically propels it to the Router. When it arrives at the Router a few seconds later, its barcode is read. lab2lab will then direct the vial to whichever instrument is available to start a requested analysis. If none are at that time, the vial will be transferred to the Buffer for temporary storage until one becomes available. The lab2lab Director application controls the transport and routing processes.  

Instruments are controlled by lab2lab applets which are deployed on each instrument’s PC. They interface between the main lab2lab Director software and the automation interface of the instruments’ own software e.g. Waters’ MassLynx, to start and monitor each analysis.  

Each vial is physically transported back to the Buffer as soon as possible i.e. when the sample injection phase had been completed but before the analysis has finished. This allows the next vial to be sent to the instrument ready to start its analysis the instant the instrument completes the previous task. In this way instrumentation can be used as productively as possible. The sample is routed from the Buffer to another instrument, if required, to the Collection Point or to the bin. 

A lab2lab system comprises the following elements:  

Physical components.  

  • Senders  
  • Transport Pipes  
  • Router  
  • Buffers 
  • Receivers 
  • Collection Point for vial retrieval  
  • Waste Bin for vial disposal, attached to the Router 
  • Alarm units (optional) 
  • Automation Senders (optional) 

 Software components.  

  • lab2lab Director application running on a dedicated PC  
  • lab2lab Client application running on multiple PCs 
  • Instrument Control applets  


Lab2lab overview - 3.1 Overall layout >>>