- Case Study
Watson-Marlow OEM pumps ideal for automated laboratory instrumentation
Caernarfon-based Bee Robotics, a designer and manufacturer of automated laboratory instruments, is using up to 500 400F/M1 OEM pumps from Watson-Marlow Pumps Group every year. Applied to a variety of liquid handling applications that complement a wide range of diagnostic kits, the company has been a satisfied customer since its inception in 1999.
A privately-owned enterprise, Bee Robotics today occupies four industrial units in north Wales which house its manufacturing and design facilities. The company has become well established in the automation of molecular and western blot strip based assays, and more recently has expanded into other fields of automation, offering OEM solutions to a wide range of clients.
Quality and reliability
High on the company’s priority list since day one have been quality and reliability. With 95% of output exported, Bee Robotics needs to feel confident that its products will perform to high standards year-in, year-out. This of course also applies to the company’s selected pump technology.
“It’s a small but competitive market in which we operate, hence one of the main differentiators we deploy is our use of modern, well-proven technology,” explains Steve Jones, Managing Director at Bee Robotics. “There is no compromise on quality, which is why we have used Watson-Marlow OEM pumps since our origins.”
The 400F/M1 is an extremely compact, single channel, instrument-quality peristaltic pump offering flow rates up to 200 ml/min. The pump shaft is supported by ball bearings which ensure extended gear motor life (the pump is available with four standard gear motors). The pump uses tube elements for simple tube loading, and Luer fittings for easy connection to transfer tubes – the tubes are completely enclosed in the pumping chamber.
Easy to maintain
“We find the pumps to be extremely robust,” states Mr Jones. “In addition, ease-of-maintenance is another important factor. The connector design is such that tubing can be replaced in a matter of seconds.”
The 400F/M1 pumps are used across four different liquid handling instruments for a variety of medical/biopharm research and production applications, typically handling reagents, wash waters and laboratory samples. On occasions the company will make use of a four-channel variant of the same model.
Among the instruments employing single-channel pumps are the BeeBlot, which offers an open system for strip based assays offering semi-automation for western blot and hybridisation (pumps used for aspiration and reagent addition). The volumes handled range from 50ul to 5ml depending on the application.
“Our range of applications demonstrates the versatility of these pumps, which is why we are currently taking between 300 and 500 a year,” says Mr Jones. “The market is extremely busy at present so I can only see these volumes escalating in the future.”
Through a combination of design innovation and best-available technologies, Bee Robotics is well positioned to become one of the world’s leading instrument design and manufacturing companies, offering bespoke automation for the modern laboratory. In recent years the company has gained ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 accreditations, and operates to ISO 13485 standards.