The worldwide laboratory automation market is set to reach US$4.1 billion by 2015, according to Global Industry Analysts.
Lab automation has come a long way in drastically reducing the need for time-consuming procedures, earlier performed manually, by replacing them with modern tools and techniques.
Laboratory automation systems are extensively finding applications in majority of lab processes. From simple capping and decapping of sample bottles, to high throughput screening of test samples, lab automation offers myriad ways to reduce costs and increase efficiencies.
Lab automation is also growing to be an important market for automation product manufacturers who see it as an ideal opportunity to strengthen their presence. Biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors are the major markets for lab automation followed by clinical research and CROs (Contract Research Organizations).
Lab automation continues to tread the expansion path driven by ever-increasing demand from the drug discovery and biotechnology sectors.
Demand for these instruments is projected to remain upbeat in the near future, as the need for high throughput screening and analysis soars.
Liquid handling equipment constitutes the largest segment of the lab automation market and finds wide range of applications in drug discovery research, biopharmaceutical production processes and in research laboratories.
Miniaturisation is one aspect that is high on the development agenda for majority of instrument manufacturers, as the trend towards usage of denser micro plate formats intensifies.
Other technologies such as micro fluidics, micro arrays, and lab-on-a-chip that are still in the nascent stages, promise to be key factors for shaping the lab automation landscape in the future.
With the ever increasing pressure on pharma companies to develop new, effective drugs, time-to-market is of crucial importance, thus brining into spotlight the importance of highly automated laboratories.
For the pharmaceutical industry, lab automation has a high influence on the drug discovery processes as it increases the speed and accuracy of tests, leaving ample time for scientists to focus on activities of high importance.
With automation of laboratories, new strategies for exploring drugs can be formulated with minimum effort. Automation systems are also increasingly finding application in clinical diagnostics laboratories, which have been encountering challenges in terms of decreasing reimbursement rates, increasing volume of diagnostic tests and a growing shortage of work force.