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Medical Specimen Transport System Success Story

A major medical service provider approached ATS to develop a configurable Specimen Transport System for hospitals and laboratories.

long automated line of conveyors and small products being transported

Challenge

An OEM wanted to launch a solution to provide hospitals and laboratories with an automation material handling solution for transporting fragile test tube specimens within a laboratory setting.

Our client required absolute cleanliness, rigorous maintenance and zero-risk safety standards for handling the bio-hazardous materials: fragile test tubes. The product needed flawless traceability for each Specimen Transport Carrier (STC). The end user environment required easy-to-use controls interface and maintenance tools for lab technicians unfamiliar with automation. Our client also wanted fast system payback with zero downtime.

Approach

We custom designed a pilot system to prove out the conveyor transport system and each standard module. Included in this development was:

  • Customized conveyor to capture STC for increased stability
  • Embedded controller—small compact, low cost, modular

The solution included:

  • Precision, high-throughput automation system that eliminated risk of human error—each STC was sorted, de-capped, analyzed, bar code scanned, re-capped and tracked (system integrated with data management system provided by customer)
  • Enclosed system for safety and cleanliness
  • Configurable "plug and play," quick-change modules and sub-components (backup modules and parts supplied) for ease of maintenance and service, with minimum downtime
  • User-friendly design and with embedded controller, for intuitive operation and easy integration by OEM
  • High throughput—processed 1 specimen per second

Result

The final result was a standard product consisting of plug-and-play modules that could be easily configured to suit existing laboratories and hospitals. A typical system would have the following modules and features:

  • Conveyor transport system
  • Sorting, merging, diverging devices
  • Capping, de-capping devices
  • Blood analyzers interface—load /unload
  • Bar code scanning devices—specimen routing and results logging
  • Data management system interface for scheduling and results collection
  • Precise handling of specimens—life critical
  • Higher test reliability with flawless traceability—life critical
  • Lower cost per sample