Medical Lab Automation Machines Part 1

Spectroscopy to Clinical Chemistry Analyzers

The medical industry is experiencing massive growth, especially in the Lab Automation space. The need for accurate and timely results is in high demand for several reasons including early detection and prevention of disease. This has accelerated further due to COVID-19. In part 1 of this series, we will review several types of Lab Automation machines used in the market today and some of the companies making them.


Mass Spectroscopy is an analytic technique that identifies chemical substances by sorting mass-to-charge ratios of gaseous ions in electric and magnetic fields. Manufacturers of these machines include but are not limited to Thermo Fisher, Agilent, Bruker Daltonics, Shimadzu, Varian, Perkin Elmer

Molecular Spectroscopy sorts interactions between molecules and electromagnetic radiation. This technology led to the first maser and eventually the creation of the laser. Thermo Fisher, Perkin Elmer, and Agilent are some of the designers of this machine.

Atomic Spectroscopy studies the electromagnetic radiation absorbed and emitted by atoms. Agilent creates these machines.

Mass Spectrometers are used for applications in:

  • Proteomics: protein analysis, sequencing, and epigenetics
  • Pharmaceuticals: pharmacokinetic testing, metabolite testing, and drug discovery
  • Clinical: disease testing, diagnostics, and drug screening.
Atomic Spectroscopy Machine


Chromatography is a technique used in a lab that separates mixtures. It consists of 2 phases – mobile (mixture is dissolved in a fluid) and stationary (fluid is moved through a column, tube, or plate).

Liquid Chromatography (LC) is when the mobile phase is a liquid and the stationary phase is a column or plane. The current use of liquid chromatography uses small packing particles and high pressure. This is also known as high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Some manufacturers are Thermo Fisher, Agilent, Shimadzu, Perkin Elmer, Varian, HP, Hitachi and Waters.

High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is the form of liquid chromatography that is used in the pharmaceutical industry, as it can provide the precise results that are required. The results can be used to analyze finished drug products and their ingredients quantitatively and qualitatively during the manufacturing process. This is achieved through the separation, quantification, and identification of components in a mixture and can be used to reveal the identity of a drug and monitor the progress of a therapy on a disease.

High-Performance Liquid Chromatography

There is also Super Critical Fluid Chromatography (SCF) in which the mobile phase is relatively close to its critical pressure and temperature. Thermo Fisher is one of many manufacturers.

Thin-layer Chromatography (TLC) is used to separate non-volatile mixtures and the stationary phase is executed on a sheet of an inactive substrate like glass or plastic that is coated with a thin layer of absorbent material such as silica gel or cellulose.

Polymearse Chain Reaction (PCR)

PCR is sometimes called molecular photocopying. It essentially magnifies small segments of DNA.

PCR Thermocycler Machine

qPCR – Real-time PCR or quantitative PCR is a technology that quantifies nucleic acid in different biological samples. It is quick and sensitive. Abbott, Bio-Rad, Luminex, Applied Biosystems, Roche, Fluidigm, Qiagen, and ABI are all some of the developers of this type of instrument.

Digital PCR is a more precise version of PCR for the quantification of DNA.

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19 is a molecular test that analyzes your upper respiratory specimen, looking for genetic material (ribonucleic acid or RNA) of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Scientists use the PCR technology to amplify small amounts of RNA from specimens into deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which is replicated until SARS-CoV-2 is detectable if present. The PCR test has been the gold standard test for diagnosing COVID-19 since authorized for use in February 2020. It’s accurate and reliable.

Liquid Handling

To automate workflows in a life sciences laboratory, a liquid handling robot is used. It dispenses a specific quantity of reagent (compound added to create a chemical reaction), or other liquids and samples to a container.

Some manufacturers and designers of liquid handling systems are Tecan, Hamilton, Thermo Fisher, Perkin Elmer, Beckman Coulter, Rainin, and Agilent.

Automatic Liquid Handler in a Research Laboratory

Clinical Chemistry Analyzers

Clinical chemistry analyzers, also referred to as biochemistry analyzers, use measurement technologies including photometric and colorimetric testing, ion-selective potentiometry, and latex agglutination to analyze samples such as blood serum, plasma, and urine.

Chemistry analyzers are used in all types of laboratories, from small point-of-care clinics to high-throughput clinical labs, to test for analytes such as proteins, enzymes, and electrolytes.

Applications include monitoring diseases such as diabetes, testing for metabolic functions or cardiac markers, and drugs-of-abuse testing. Benchtop analyzers are the most common type, but compact bedside models, usually with fewer test options, and high-throughput floor-based units are also available.

Some manufacturers and designers of clinical chemistry analyzers are Siemens Healthineers, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Beckman Coulter, Roche, Abbott, Molecular devices, Nova Biomedical.

Urine Analyzer

To see how MISUMI can help provide components and solutions for these machines, check out our dedicated Medical & Lab Automation Industry page for more information here. Stay tuned for Lab Automation Machines Part 2: Microscopy to Cell Counting coming soon!

About the Author

Geoffrey Green

Geoffrey Green is currently an industry segment manager for the Medical Industry at MISUMI. His role involves developing strategies for how MISUMI's offering of products can be utilized in providing solutions for medical automation. Prior to his role as industry segment manager, Geoffrey worked as a sales engineer at MISUMI. In his sales role, he served the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest of the U.S. and focused entirely in the medical industry. During this 4 year period, Geoffrey became an expert assisting customers with their medical automation designs. Before taking on his roles at MISUMI, Geoffrey has worked in the plastic bearing, robotics, and solar industries and received his degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado.

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