SMART Automation

Have you ever had days like this?

Jane has always loved working in histology.  Afterall, her work, and that of her co-workers, is vital to ensuring patients get the proper diagnosis and treatment they need.  Lately, though, work has been a significant source of stress.  The daily volume of work keeps growing, and the laboratory is short-staffed.  The lab wants to bring on new antibodies in IHC, digital imaging, and other important new services that will be great for the lab, clinicians, and their patients, but there simply has not been the time and resources to get them up and running.  The need for overtime has been a regular occurrence, and on many days Jane and her co-workers sacrifice their break times to make sure embedding and microtomy does not fall too far behind.  It is important work, but the day-to-day struggle to keep up is really starting to wear down Jane and her co-workers.  Employee callouts have increased, which just makes the lab even more short-staffed.  Errors have increased because everyone is hurrying to meet turnaround time and are becoming more and more worn down, and those errors lead to more re-work, which wastes more time and resources.  Jane’s homelife is starting to feel the effects as well.  When she gets home, she is tired, and sometimes she feels like calling out of work herself just to have a break, but then she remembers that it will only make things more difficult for her co-workers.  Jane and her co-workers are fighting as hard as they can against the downward spiral, but they really wish they could get some relief. 

Here is how Sakura Finetek’s SMART Automation solutions solve problems for Jane and her laboratory.

Only SMART Automation embodies the concept of working smarter and not harder, allowing technicians like Jane and her coworkers, who are the most vital component of the laboratory, to have more time to do the important tasks that only they can perform. SMART Automation utilizes continuous flow of small batches and a simplified and standardized application that provides unparalleled consistency while greatly reducing the risk for errors.

LEAN techniques are all about process efficiency, reducing risk, and eliminating waste. Why waste time creating large batches when all they lead to are bottlenecks and reduced turnaround time? When every biopsy represents a human being, why risk manual processes that can lead to cross-contamination or tissue loss? Who has hours to waste while waiting for a processor to finish only to spend even more time doing complicated and risky reagent exchanges? SMART Automation from Sakura Finetek provides a LEAN solution to these problems, providing enhanced safety while saving time, money, and resources.

SMART Automation starts with tissue and user safety. The Tissue-Tek Xpress® x120 Rapid Tissue Processor is the only tissue processor with a completely error-free reagent system, ensuring that patient tissue remains safe and Jane does not have to worry about making a mistake that could jeopardize a patient’s tissue.  Some processors use barcoded labels or RFID tags on their reagents to mitigate mistakes, but that just means more work for Jane.  Xpress Series reagents come ready-to-use and eliminate bottle placement and filling errors without the need for Jane taking additional steps that make her job harder and take more time.  Xpress reagents are also formalin- and xylene-free and require no pouring during reagent exchanges, which means safer handling for Jane as well.  The Tissue-Tek AutoTEC® a120 Automated Embedding System utilizes the Tissue-Tek® Paraform® Sectionable Cassette System to ensure that orientation of tissue is properly preserved from grossing through to microtomy, thereby eliminating the risk of orientation mistakes, tissue loss, and cross contamination for increased patient safety.  This unique embedding automation solution is capable of substantially decreasing errors that commonly occur during manual embedding by up to 44%, removing that wasteful rework from Jane’s to-do list. 

SMART Automation also enhances laboratory efficiency to shorten laboratory TAT.  Utilizing four, robotic retorts, the continuous flow of the Xpress x120 means that Jane can load tissues when she is ready instead of waiting to collect large batches for conventional processing that eat into the lab’s TAT.  The Xpress x120 can process multiple tissue runs simultaneously with no slowing down or stopping in between runs for a cleaning cycle, which gives Jane and her team increased workflow flexibility and speed.  With rapid processing capabilities beyond just biopsies, the Xpress x120 reduces the processing time of large tissue specimens from 8 hours on a conventional processing platform to only 2.5 hours, saving up to 5.5 hours with comparable results for both H&E and IHC.  Combined with the continuous automated embedding throughput of up to 120 Paraform Cassettes per hour on the AutoTEC a120, SMART Automation provides high-quality, safe tissue processing, consistent clean blocks, and improved turnaround time of up to 10 hours from grossing to microtomy versus conventional systems.

SMART Automation empowers Jane and her co-workers to better utilize their time and skills in the laboratory.  The Xpress x120 utilizes less than 16 liters of on-board reagents including the molten paraffin. The processing reagents can be exchanged in less than 90 seconds, completely error-free, so Jane spends less time doing reagent exchanges and more time doing more important tasks.  The SMARTair™ technology of the AutoTEC a120 automates the block cleaning process so that blocks are ready to go right to microtomy when embedding is finished, so Jane no longer wastes her time scraping or melting wax off the sides of blocks instead of doing microtomy, running IHC, or another more value-added task.  The Paraform Cassettes also protect the tissue from ever coming in contact with the built-in, coated base molds on the AutoTEC a120, which means Jane does not have to spend time or worry about cleaning hundreds of base molds to prevent risk of cross-contamination.

The safety, efficiency, and speed of SMART Automation allows Jane and her co-workers the freedom to relax and focus again.  The time saved enables Jane and the laboratory the opportunity to look and plan for the next steps the laboratory will take rather than struggle just to keep up.  SMART Automation empowers Jane to be more productive, have a better work-life balance, and get back to loving histology again.

Watch the video to see how SMART Automation helped a lab like Jane’s.


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