An automated compound store from RTS Life Science is said to have led to significant improvements in the productivity of Sanofi-aventis' chemists and biologists involved in the drug-discovery process.
According to Sanofi-aventis, the robotic liquid and powder stores have enabled the company to assess the improvement its technicians have been able to deliver when compared with its previous manual methods.
The company estimated that it has achieved a gain of productivity around 80 per cent for the compound-loading and retrieval process in both the powder and liquid stores.
It has also achieved a 50 per cent productivity gain in the management of the collection plates contained within the liquid store.
Sanofi-aventis has also achieved 100 per cent traceability of all its compounds, because each operation is tracked by the system.
The robots within the stores are set to work overnight, meaning orders are fulfilled and waiting in the buffer store for the next working day.
Since the introduction of the RTS stores, Sanofi-aventis has optimised its laboratory processes, as the technicians no longer spend so much time fulfilling orders.
The company has implemented separate stores with two robots: one at 20C for powder vials and one at -20C for collection plates.
Central to the new loading technique is a trolley design featuring a removable cassette - each covering the equivalent of 90 shelf positions - giving it the capacity to hold 540 plates.
The store has five docking stations that together allow 2,700 plates to be processed in each load-and-remove operation.
To load plates into the store, the technician opens the trolley bay door, pushes the trolley into position and pulls the release lever.
The d-Sprint scheduling software manages store operations and the SIS database, which keeps track of all the plates, tubes and vials in the inventory.
According to Sanofi-aventis, the two stores are treated as one, with positions for new additions to the collection being random, so as to minimise partially filled racks and maximise storage density.