Pipettes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and with a variety of different technologies incorporated into the design. One of the most significant advances in pipetting technology was the advent of electronic pipettes, which have revolutionized liquid handling in the modern lab. Electronic pipettes provide numerous benefits. They enable reagent to be added to the wells of a microtiter plate more quickly without compromising accuracy. They reduce the risk of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) due to improved ergonomic shape and design. The provision of a digital design and electronic piston ensures greater accuracy and precision.
Enter the Andrew Alliance Bluetooth electronic pipette, manufactured by electronic pipette market leader Sartorius at its stat-of-the-art pipette production facility in Kajaani, Finland. Aside from being the lightest such product on the market, this pipette is also ‘connected’ to Andrew Alliance’s browser-based software environment, OneLab.
The system is collectively referred to as ‘Pipette+’.
Let’s talk about the software and the benefits as far as the user is concerned.
OneLab is cloud-based and freely accessible, though it can also be made available on a private server. It enables any one of a wide range of pipetting protocols to be readily created assuming that they are not already available without any programming know-how at all.. just drag and drop what you need either from a tablet, laptop or desktop PC. These protocols can be readily shared with colleagues as well as being made available for training purposes be it for serial dilution, normalization, qPCR or indeed, many other workflow applications.
OneLab can the remotely set-up the pipette.
Just imagine, you no longer need to press the small buttons on the pipette but have all that done for you – you just need to pick it up when ‘illuminated’, dispense/aspirate, and put back on its smart stand which combines storage with charging, and comprises an embedded PC capable of two-way communication between the pipettes (Bluetooth) and OneLab (ethernet/WiFi).. and let’s be honest, it is a slick design that looks greater on the lab bench.
This ‘connectivity’ with OneLab provides several very important advantages. Firstly, having the pipetting process automated in these pipettes means that the possibility and likelihood of human error is reduced. User to user variability, to a great extent, is taken out of the equation, meaning that data and results become more reproducibly. Secondly, this ‘connected’ pipette requires much less hand movement and effort to carry out the same liquid handling tasks as a manual pipette. This provides an easier and more effortless user experience for scientists, while maintaining or even increasing accuracy and precision.
The fact that step-by-step data is being relayed back to OneLab, along with details regarding the last time and place the pipette as calibrated, means that the user also has complete ‘traceability’. This ensures complete auditability of the pipetting workflow, especially important for regulated laboratories, as well as the ability to troubleshoot pipetting problems and identify cause. The crisis of reproducibility in research is in no small part related to the lack of repeatability in pipetting, a problem that also negatively impacts the progress of ring trials as well as resulting in enormous waste of public sector research funding, and the advancement of new life saving therapeutics through the drug discovery pipeline.
The pipettes themselves are based on Sartorius renowned Picus design which continues to demonstrate market leading liquid handling performance married to superior ergonomics. They comprise a full range of single and multichannel versions, dispensing volumes ranging from 0.2 μl to 10 mL, and whose technical specifications are detailed in the table below. The pipettes are automatically identified by and paired with the smart charging stand.
Each year at the Society of Laboratory Automation and Screening International Conference and Exhibition, the New Product Award is given to up to three companies showcasing new products that are commercially available within 90 days pre- and post-conference. Products are evaluated by a judging panel onsite at the companies’ booths. Winning products are granted use of the New Product Award designation for a year. Andrew+ won the New Product Award in February 2019.