Given the increasing demand for long-term storage of clinical samples, compound stores are becoming increasingly important. Same is the case with automated liquid handling units that can perform blood fractionation, sample preparation, capping and decapping of vials, automated pipetting and sample transfers with the help of robotic arms.
The Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) and the consumable sector are continuously evolving to allow integration of various workflow processes such as tracking of samples, customer billing, online sample request and centralized web accessible data.
The global automation market for biobanking applications accounted for $818 million in 2011, growing at a CAGR of 8.2 percent. By 2018 it is estimated to reach $1,415.5 million. Europe and North America are the biggest contributors, representing respectively 41 % and 40 % of the revenue generated.
In terms of segments, automated liquid handling and robotics account for 59.3 % followed by Automated Compound Storage & Sample Management Systems with 16.3%, Consumables with 12.8% and LIMS with 11.6%. Each year, around 100 million samples are being added to the biobanks worldwide.
"Adoption of automation in biobanks has bestowed key benefits such as ease of error handling, preserving sample integrity, labour maintenance, energy cost savings," says Ms Divyaa Ravishankar, Senior Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
While increased LIMS capabilities and increased growth in Europe and Asia are some of the opportunities, the Industry still faces some challenges, such as funding and financial maintenance of public biobanking infrastructure and automation in the area of ultra-low cold sample storage and retrieval systems.
"The biobanking equipment market requires continuous improvements in automation, prompting manufacturers to provide open automation products, concludes Ms Divyaa Ravishankar. "As cost increases, biobanks look for flexibility in their automation solutions that will connect with numerous competing instrument platforms thus offering more testing that biobanks require in the long run."
Frost & Sullivan recently organised an on-demand analyst briefing entitled "Automated Biobanking - The Next Big Leap for Biorepositories." The web-conference summarises Ms Ravishankar's findings, looking at the growth of automation within the biobanking sector, identifying the drivers and restraints pertaining to automating biobanks and defining the organisational challenges impeding the uptake of automation.
This web-conference will benefit component manufacturers, distributors, biobanking integration software vendors who are currently supplying tools to automate liquid/sample handling, compound storage and LIMS solutions for biobanks. Understanding the interest of the biobank is crucial to tailor solutions that will help the penetration of their technology.