ABB robots help Singapore ramp up Covid-19 testing rate

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ABB robots have been implemented in a new lab system in Singapore to accelerate Covid-19 testing.

The system automates some of the manual steps required in sample processing, thereby helping to keep lab workers safe as well as saving time and costs. Two sets of the Rapid Automated Volume Enhancer and associated equipment can process up to 4,000 samples a day, whilst reducing test contamination and infection risks for laboratory workers.

ABB provided four IRB 910 SCARA units for the pilot testing cell, as well as its RobotStudio simulation software to help create, simulate and test the robot installation in a virtual 3D environment. ABB said this allowed the project to scale up quickly without major adjustments or corrections in a lab environment.

ABB SCARA robots operating in a cell allowed samples to be processed four times faster than using manual methods

The technology was co-developed by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*STAR) Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre and the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology, as well as the Diagnostics Development Hub, a national platform hosted by A*STAR.

Sami Atiya, president of ABB’s robotics and discrete automation business unit, said: “Together we are increasing Singapore’s testing capacity by automating key laboratory processes, with our robots undertaking a range of repetitive and dangerous tasks to improve laboratory conditions for employees, reducing the risk of contamination and fatigue.”

As previously reported by Robotics & Innovation, ABB’s collaborative robot YuMi has supported coronavirus serological testing in an Italian university study. At the Polytechnic University of Milan YuMi has automated up to 77% of the operations required to perform the tests and analyse up to 450 samples per hour.

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