Routine lab automation with culture dishes made easy - How the PetriJet platform technology helps to makes drinking water analysis faster and better

Recorded On: 02/07/2018

Digitalization, Automation and Miniaturization currently change the way we live and work. It also affects daily work in laboratories. The disruptive development of new technologies such as open source automation technology, the Internet of Things (IoT) and 3D-printing offer endless possibilities for an in-house engineering of new laboratory devices which are compact, adaptable and smart.

At the SmartLab systems department of the Technische Universitaet Dresden, Germany approaches for the laboratory of the future have been developed and implemented. This includes the PetriJet platform technology which was developed the automate all processes associated with culture dishes in environments such as routine laboratories for drinking water or blood samples as well as culture development for the next generation of antibiotics. The device technically is a x-y-robot consisting of two linear axles enabled to transport variable sizes and shapes of culture dishes from A to B through a 3D-printed gripper-system which can also remove the lid of the culture dish. Core part of the programming is a self-learning control software that does not need any teaching – the most time-consuming part of setting up a typical robot. With the presented solution an experiment conducted on samples is planned only once and executed for all culture dishes in the machine with the right processing stations – e. g. sample imaging – installed. It is not necessary to specify locations for culture dish piles and treated dishes are allocated dynamically while user interactions are directed by LED-lighting. The system can process more than 1.200 culture dishes in an 8-hour shift and is equipped with a storage unit for these culture dishes. Several processing stations e. g. for sample plating or drug discovery are under development

The first PetriJet platform designed and build in the SmartLab systems lab in Dresden, Germany now operates in a routine laboratory for drinking water analysis in Hamburg, Germany and currently visually inspects a four-digit number of drinking water samples subject to infection with Legionella bacteria every day.

The systems integrated image analysis software counts colonies on direct samples as well as on filters, sorts the samples and is linked to the LIMS of the company speeding up to inspection process by factor 4 and making the data available to customers just in time even after a night shift. Inspection quality and throughput has increased significantly and stored proof images are available even weeks after sample treatment enabling a completely new approach to data mining and infection tracking.

Felix Lenk

TU Dresden INT

Felix Lenk is a Postdoc at the Institute of Natural Materials Technology at the TU Dresden, Germany, and head of the SmartLab systems department working on the next generation of laboratory devices and systems. He studied Automation & Control and Electrical Engineering at the TU Dresden, Germany and at the University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada and graduated in 2009. In 2014 he received his PhD in Bioprocess Engineering at the TU Dresden in the field of growth modeling of plant in vitro cultures. He currently works in the field of autonomous sensor systems, laboratory automation and assistance systems as well as biological sample imaging and automatic image analysis for different biotech applications.

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