The global automated liquid handling market was valued at USD 1.65 billion in 2022. It is expected to reach USD 3.89 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 10% during the forecast period (2023–2031). Automated liquid handling (ALH) systems are carefully programmed to handle liquids and provide precise, repeatable results in clinical and research settings without any complexity. A wide variety of research applications require effective and precise liquid handling methods. Liquid handling quality must be carefully considered for outcomes to be reliable and consistent. High throughput is highly anticipated in these processes because the diagnostics industry bases profits and productivity on the number of processed samples. Automated liquid handling offers high throughput processing at lower labor costs, improved overall experimental results, reduced manual errors, and streamlined workflow. In addition, ALH is frequently used in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, contract research organizations, and academic and government research institutes to improve workflow.
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Access to Enhanced and Error-Free ALH Systems
ALH systems provide their users with several unique benefits. The fact that automated liquid handlers eliminate both individual and daily variability is one of their benefits. ALS systems can dispense sub-microliter volumes with less training than manual dispensing does. They also make room for integration with other processing devices like PCR setups and platforms for next-generation sequencing. Automated liquid handlers can be calibrated automatically based on variables like liquid type and optimized to produce better results. Another essential benefit of ALH systems is error-free reproducibility in results, which is crucial for drug discovery and disease and diagnostics research in pharmaceutical and clinical settings.
Increasing R&D Activities
Healthcare research is expanding as a result of an increase in patients around the world. ALH has excellent potential in pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies and R&D labs. Additionally, the demand for higher-quality healthcare creates a need for healthcare research. As a result, governments worldwide plan to concentrate their spending on healthcare research to satisfy patient demand for better and more advanced technology while upholding quality standards. For instance, U.S. medical and health R&D investments increased by 20.6% between 2013 and 2016. Expanded research programs considerably support market expansion.
Operational Complexity of Modern Liquid Handling Systems
Complex workstations and ALH systems, particularly multi-purpose and multi-instrument ALH systems, are made for specific tasks like PCR setup, plate reformatting, plate replication, and sample preparation for chromatographic analysis. Systems that can be fully customized include a variety of add-ons like barcode readers, coolers, shakers, and robotic arms for manipulating labware and managing plates. These systems can be integrated into a complete through-lab automation system and are highly programmable. Laboratory professionals need strong skill sets to operate these systems effectively because they are complex and expected to restrain market growth over the forecast period.
Untapped Potential of Developing Markets
Emerging economies in the Asia-Pacific region and LAMEA offer lucrative opportunities for market participants. The market is expected to benefit from increased R&D and innovation in the Asia-Pacific region and increased awareness of ALH systems during the forecast period. The increasing adoption of ALH systems in laboratories, contract research organizations (CROs), and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies will present opportunities for the market to grow over the forecast period.
The global automated liquid handling market is segmented by type, modality, procedure, and end-user.
Based on type, the global automated liquid handling market is bifurcated into standalone, individual benchtop workstations, and multi-instruments.
The standalone segment is the highest contributor to the market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.2% during the forecast period. A standalone automated liquid handling (ALH) system is made up of a single device into which plates are manually inserted in accordance with the needs of the researcher. Despite being gradually replaced by multi-instrument automated liquid handling systems, standalone automated liquid handling still holds a larger market share due to the sheer volume of use in various research laboratories.
The liquid handling and robotics industries are moving toward modular and adaptable standalone ALH systems that are affordable for all. The equipment, software, and techniques used in standalone liquid handling systems have improved to make them more accessible to users. Standalone ALH systems have more potential in terms of features. For maximum productivity, new and improved standalone ALH systems, particularly those from Tecan, have integrated features like effective flow control, heated column drying, and simple touchscreen control. Additionally, it is anticipated that standalone ALH systems will generate lucrative opportunities in the ALH market over the forecast period as the need for lab automation increases.
Based on modality, the global automated liquid handling market is bifurcated into disposable tips and fixed tips.
The disposable tips segment owns the highest market share and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.3% during the forecast period. Disposable pipette tips are a common component of automated liquid handling equipment used in chemistry, life science, and clinical diagnostics labs. These tips come in various volumes and are of the sterile variety. They are suitable for racking options depending on the instrument channel requirements and intended application, thanks to their wide bore and conductive surface. Disposable tips enable liquid transfers between various tubes, vials, troughs, deep-well plates, and micro-plates. Technological advancements further aid the expansion of this market segment.
In a research experiment, fixed tips handle purified samples like PCR samples and DNA/RNA sequencing mixtures. Long fixed steel needles can also reach the bottom of deep vessels, such as spinner tubes used for nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy or vessels used for cell culture. Fixed tips are economical and only require that procedures be followed to be used. Many fixed-tip instruments use liquid displacement, which makes washing them practical and straightforward. Washing systems are necessary for fixed-tip instruments to prevent carryover. AdvanTip Precision Pipette Tips (Hamilton) and Fixed Tips for Tecan pipetting platforms (Tecan) are examples of fixed tips used as probes for ALH systems.
Based on procedure, the global automated liquid handling market is bifurcated into serial dilution, plate reformatting, plate replication, PCR setup, high-throughput screening, cell culture, whole genome amplification, and array printing.
The PCR setup segment is the highest contributor to the market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.1% during the forecast period. ALH systems are integrated to carry out automated PCR assay setups for various applications, including gene sequencing, cloning, gene expression, mutagenesis, and disease and mutation testing. Hamilton provides ALH systems in a variety of platform sizes, from benchtop automation using NIMBUS 4 instruments to extremely demanding automation using Starline liquid handling instruments. Automated liquid handling workstations like the PerkinElmer Zephyr G3 and Tecan Freedom EVO are used for PCR setup in laboratories.
Cell counts for various stock solutions can be estimated using a serial dilution of biological entities, such as cell lines, or cell culture concentration series can be compared to an array or panel of a compound. The activity, reactivity, or synthesis of biomolecules can also be tested using serial dilution with small molecules. However, in many laboratory procedures, serial dilutions of reagents, molecule compounds, or cells can take time and effort. Due to the higher adoption of ALH for the serial dilution process in 2019, the serial dilution segment was the main contributor to revenue. Additionally, the risk of injuries and stress factors related to pipetting ergonomics can increase when manual methods are used. As a result, serial dilution is carried out using ALH systems in research experiments.
Based on end-user, the global automated liquid handling market is bifurcated into biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, contract research organizations, and academic and government institutes.
The biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies segment owns the highest market share and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.8% during the forecast period. Businesses in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are gradually automating some of their processes. ALH systems are being used, particularly those that involve high-throughput screenings. Automated liquid handlers are used in the pharmaceutical industry to screen larger collections of compounds more quickly and efficiently. Drug development and drug screening costs are decreased, and throughput is increased thanks to AHL system innovations that move toward miniaturization. In the future, ALH systems are expected to be essential to pharmaceutical research. Pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies have invested significantly in this equipment to comprehend and screen different biomolecules that lead to drug discovery and development.
Clinical trials and other support services are offered by contract research organizations (CROs) to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device sectors. They also provide services to universities, foundations, and governmental organizations. According to the Association of Clinical Research Organizations, more than 50% of CROs outsource clinical study work to the pharmaceutical industry, 27% to the biotechnology industry, and the remainder to foundations, governments, and the medical device industry. These organizations must use ALH systems and other automated technologies to increase productivity. CRO researchers must maintain precision and reproducibility, especially when analyzing clinical samples for pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, and medical research centers. ALH systems have been incorporated into the equipment portfolios of various CROs.
By region, the global automated liquid handling market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.
North America Dominates the Global Market
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North America is the most significant shareholder in the global automated liquid handling market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.6% during the forecast period. North America has a strong hold on ALH technology due to the accessibility and availability of ALH as well as the significant presence of pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical firms and research institutions. Most ALH systems, automation tools, and robotics technology manufacturers operate in North America, particularly in the United States. The ALH behemoths worldwide, including Corning, Agilent Technologies, Danaher Corporation, and Gilson, have operations here. As a result, most ALH platforms and workstations are first introduced in the US before being released elsewhere. In addition, the market is expanding due to increased knowledge about ALH and its uses in various industries, including drug discovery, personalized medicine, and clinical diseases. Numerous local and regional vendors in this region are slowly but surely establishing themselves in the market.
Europe is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.5% during the forecast period. Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, and the rest of Europe are the five major European nations taken into account in the report. In 2021, Europe held the second-largest global market share for automated liquid handling. It is anticipated that the ALH market in European nations will expand throughout the forecast period. The key growth drivers in the region are an increase in the demand for technologically advanced systems, an increase in the adoption of automated liquid handlers in R&D laboratories and pharmaceutical companies, and the availability of cutting-edge ALH in Europe. Furthermore, the region's ALH market is expected to grow due to the strong presence of key players like Tecan, Eppendorf, and Hamilton Company. The presence of developed healthcare infrastructure, a sizable concentration of pharmaceutical companies and research facilities, and the availability of qualified personnel in nations like Germany, France, and the UK all contribute to the market growth in Europe.
Asia-Pacific is expected to grow significantly over the forecast period. The ALH market has lucrative opportunities in this region, which is also expected to grow faster during the forecast period. This region's market expansion can be attributed to increased awareness of ALH systems, a growing R&D industry, and a rise in pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical firms. Additionally, the market has developed quickly due to increased drug discovery research activities, increased focus on the biotechnology sector, and increased use of ALH. Further, the market in Asia-Pacific is boosted by research, innovations, and developments related to ALH and genomics.
LAMEA held a significant share and is anticipated to have sizable growth potential. The ALH market in LAMEA is still in its infancy as a result of a shortage of cutting-edge R&D facilities, ALH systems, and knowledgeable medical personnel. LAMEA is steadily growing into a profitable automated liquid handling market as researchers are becoming more aware of ALH and as ALH is becoming more widely accessible in the region. Most countries in Latin America and the Middle East, particularly Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Uruguay, exhibit a persistent and continuous rise in their investments in science and technology as a share of GDP. Additionally, it is consistent with investment trends and objectives established by these nations' public and private sectors.
The global automated liquid handling market’s major key players are Agilent Technologies, Inc. (Biotek Instruments, Inc.), Aurora Biomed Inc, Corning Incorporated, Danaher Corporation (Beckman Coulter Inc.), Eppendorf Ag, Gilson, Inc., Hamilton Company, Mettler-Toledo International Inc., PerkinElmer, Inc., and Tecan Group Ltd.