Robotics increase data fidelity, eliminate human error

ARM & HAMMER’S ScienceHearted Center investing in robotics in R&D
calendar icon 29 November 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

Rob Teal, Microbial Terroir Analytics and Robotic Scientist at Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production, spoke to The Poultry Site’s Sarah Mikesell about robotic automation and how it’s being used in the lab at ARM & HAMMER’S ScienceHearted Center.

“The application of our robotic platforms is unique. First off, with our DNA isolation robot, through talks with the vendor, we were one of the first if not the first, to get the Thermo Fisher Presto integrated with the fluid device. What’s beneficial about that is TECAN has been able to provide a support network for us to get our equipment and processes working optimally,” he said. “What’s also unique, as far as we know, this has been done in clinical diagnostics and in academic research laboratories, but I believe we are still the only one doing this in an industry laboratory. It is a very critical part of our infrastructure in terms of how we develop products for our customers. If these devices were to stop working, our entire product development process would also stop working.”

Benefits of robotics in the lab

The robotics platforms help speed up the more repetitive precision pipetting processes in ARM & HAMMER’S robotics lab. Normally, what would take 15 minutes for an individual at the bench to do, the robot can accomplish in about five to seven minutes. Additionally, one of the robots is used for exclusively for DNA isolation and purification. Using bacterial isolates from samples in the field, Teal says they take that genomic DNA and do a variety of different assays and experiments.

“Using the robotics platforms, we are increasing our data fidelity, making sure that human error is kept to a minimum if not eliminated in certain situations,” he explained. “With our genomic DNA extraction and purification, it really increases the throughput. We're able to do thousands of isolates in a day, as opposed to, maybe a few hundred that one person could handle over a single work period. We also see greater yields and greater quality of sample results. It ensures that we are giving the best benefit to the customer that we possibly can.”

Why expand with robotics?

The use of robotic technology falls in line with ARM & HAMMER’S growth strategy and what they aspire to accomplish in the near-term and long-term.

“With these platforms, we can handle much higher throughput than what we would normally be able to handle at the bench, and that's going to save significant time and allows us to be doing other product development processes to ensure our customers continue to see the best benefit possible.”

Sarah Mikesell


Sarah Mikesell grew up on a five-generation family farming operation in Ohio, USA, where her family still farms. She feels extraordinarily lucky to get to do what she loves - write about livestock and crop agriculture. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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