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Industry Insight

Truly Modular Automated Storage

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Industry Insight

Truly Modular Automated Storage

Hamilton Storage Technologies introduced the Hamilton VersoTM modular platform at SLAS2015 in Washington, DC. Designed to meet user's needs by providing an adaptable, faster and more reliable platform the Verso appears to offer a viable alternative to the off-the-shelf systems. 

To learn more about VersoTM, the implementation of modular systems and the impact of modularity we spoke to Matt Hutnak, Verso Platform Lead at Hamilton Storage Technologies.

AB: Can you tell me a little about the Hamilton VersoTM storage platform?

Matt Hutnak (MH): The Hamilton Verso is an automated sample storage and management platform designed to be the most versatile, most flexible system on the market. Verso was officially released to the public in 2015. 

In Hamilton’s product portfolio, Verso fills a wide range of applications from high-throughput compound management to forensic sample storage. The system has the ability to adapt and excel in a wide range of applications at temperatures of -20°C and higher for capacities from 100,000 to millions of samples (based on 1.4 mL tubes). 

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Verso can accommodate a wide range of applications thanks in large part to its completely modular system architecture. A Verso system is built in a combination of modules—functional modules, such as pickers and integration modules, and storage modules. For example, these modules can provide a compound user a store which handles multiple labware types, provides sample processing rates up to 1,500 tubes per hour (whole process, submission to delivery!) and integrates with up and downstream devices. This same platform provides a high level of access control and a complete audit trail for every sample within the store.

A fundamental element of all of our new storage products, and something that sets our products apart, is the flexibility to work with a wide range of labware types in each system. This ensures that not only will the system meet your application today, but that it’s still a valuable tool when your application changes down the road.

The Verso hardware is paired with Hamilton’s three-touch user software, shared with the Hamilton BiOS® system. This software makes Verso one of the simplest systems on the market to operate while providing system administrators with a tremendous amount of tools and capabilities. 
 
AB: Was the idea of a totally modular system something Hamilton had always considered?

Matt Hutnak (MH): Creating a modular system is something that really made sense from the start. We work with a wide range of customers, each with their own very unique and very demanding set of requirements. We needed to create a product which could meet this wide range of requirements without sacrificing reliability or affordability. 
 
This is where Verso’s modular architecture comes into its own. It allows us to assemble a system with any combination of proven functional modules (pickers, integration modules, thawing modules, etc.) and storage modules to meet a customer’s requirements without the expense or complications of re-engineering a new system or application each time. 
 
We can also tailor a system to the customer’s available space, which is often an overlooked benefit. The modular architecture allows us to scale the system in all three dimensions. Whether it’s a large warehouse-style facility in the Midwest, or a cramped 6th floor office in downtown Cambridge, this scalability makes it much easier for customers to locate their store where they want. 

At the end of the day, the customer ends up with solution that is adapted to the way they work; their labware, their processes, and their space.

AB: What is Hamilton's involvement in the design process of Verso platforms? Are you available to help the customers spec a system to meet their requirements?

Matt Hutnak (MH): Hamilton places quite a number of resources at the customer’s disposal. Hamilton’s expert sales teams, supported by platform leadership, are always available to walk through a customer’s application and develop the solution that best meets those needs. 
 
For customers with the most extreme applications, Hamilton has engineering groups specifically dedicated to realizing those applications. Perhaps it’s managing millions of unique vials over multiple clustered stores, which are in turn integrated with liquid handling stations—Hamilton can come up with a solution. Our project engineers are more than happy to work with customers through all phases of creating and implementing the right system.

AB: Do you believe that this modular approach is the future of storage systems or will there continue to be a place for off-the-shelf systems?

Matt Hutnak (MH): What we once considered “off-the-shelf” systems are an increasingly difficult business proposition. While they do serve a number of applications very well, there is often quite a bit more compromise involved than customers will accept. More and more, we’ve found our off-the-shelf systems (as flexible as they might be) still need some amount of customization to make them a valuable proposition to our customers.

The modular architecture of Verso gives us a tremendous range of flexibility to configure and customize “standard” systems. Since the modules are off-the-shelf, we still hit the price points, lead times, and most importantly the quality and reliability of off-the-shelf systems. In some respects, I think we’re redefining what an off-the-shelf system really is.

Matt Hutnak was speaking to Ashley Board, Managing Editor for Technology Networks.
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