The global lab automation market size was valued at USD 6.12 billion in 2022. It is estimated to reach USD 12.59 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 8.35% during the forecast period (2023–2031).
Laboratory automation is a process in which the use of instruments to perform laboratory processes are high with limiting human input. The major reasons for the adoption of laboratory automation are to improve the accuracy of lab results and to improve the workflow efficiently and effectively. Manual processes rely on human workers, with high chances of errors. In addition, automation in the laboratory refers to using technology to enhance existing procedures and enable new, more effective ones. A laboratory automation system comprises several parts, including computer hardware and software, robotics, conveyor systems, and machine vision.
For laboratories to stay competitive in the market today, lab automation is becoming a more viable and necessary solution. The use of contemporary automation technology spares researchers from doing tedious chores. Automation in the lab facilitates patient results delivery by enabling laboratory staff to control the influx of samples and improve throughput. The broader healthcare business is benefiting from the lab automation solution.
Automated workstations are increasingly used in laboratories to improve performance and productivity. Automated workstations relieve lab personnel from intense concentration demands and fatigue, which can result from various experiments. These automated workstations helped them by freeing them to make more productive utilization of their time. In addition, customized automated lab liquid-handling workstations will keep labs functioning in the absence of the personnel and keep assays moving on weekends so that the research labs can get most of the work completed before the first working day in the week. There is an increased use of customized lab workstations.
Many large laboratories employ automated liquid handlers as stand-alone devices, moving plates manually on and off the stage to storage incubators, and readers are using automated workstations. Most labs are adding new features to liquid-handling benchtop analyzers, enabling automation by shifting to workstations. Adopting total lab automation is expensive, where workstations can increase the efficiency of the labs and reduce manual errors in the process. These factors are expected to boost the market during the forecast period.
The vendors strategically focus on developing and commercial launches of lab-automated analyzers, workstations, and automated process-oriented analyzers. Vendors are launching innovative devices to penetrate and exploit the market's enormous growth potential. Moreover, vendors actively engage in R&D activities and plan to launch innovative products in the coming years. For instance, key players such as Danaher, Agilent Technologies, Tecan, and Thermo Fischer Scientific dominate the global market due to their continuous involvement in product innovations and launches. Similarly, the effect of new product approvals and launches has positively impacted the market and is contributing to the expansion of the market.
The adoption of automation technologies has been slow in the market, especially among small and medium-sized laboratories (SMLs). Laboratories investing in automation systems require a larger volume for operation, at least two million tests per year. Only a handful of large laboratories and hospitals implement and benefit from this largely. Many laboratories focus on implementing total laboratory automation, which was a failure in the initial stages. This created a huge resistance to laboratories shifting from manual processes to complete automation. In addition, the cost of automation is very high for SMLs and hospitals, as earning ROI from laboratory automation is a long process. Therefore, such factors hamper the market growth.
The general definition of laboratory robotics is the use of robotics technology to conduct scientific studies and research activities in a secure environment without the involvement of human hands. Due to the increasing need to protect the safety of human workers and the installation of tight regulatory standards in laboratories, businesses are beginning to adopt robotic technology for crucial process applications. The popularity of robotics in diagnostic laboratories, research and development centers, and other settings is fueled by robots' ability to maintain accuracy and precision and their high-efficiency level.
Robotic lab automation proved to be beneficial during the covid-19 pandemic. Robotic labs were crucial in diagnosing COVID-19 samples because they offer end-to-end automation. Many laboratory processes are suited for robotic automation –mostly repetitive movements, such as picking and placing heating and cooling specimens and mixing, shaking, and testing specimens. Much progress has been made in the automation and robotization of analytical separation and processing in recent years. This will likely create a huge market opportunity for vendors catering to this market.
The global lab automation market is bifurcated into product, application, automation, and end-user.
Based on the product, the global lab automation market is divided into systems and software.
The systems segment is the most significant contributor to the market and is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 6.16% over the forecast period. Lab automation systems are available in various positions of the product life cycle. Microplate readers are still in the introductory phase, where the adoption of microplate readers is still in the initial stages of the market. Automated robots in the liquid handling segments are growing due to their increased advantages, like reducing manual pipetting errors, being able to perform repetitive work without any errors, especially in the drug discovery process, and research labs performing repetitive tasks, which are difficult for humans. In addition, handling the smaller volume of samples in the market is another feature driving the lab's robotic instruments. The systems segment is sub-segmented into robotic systems, automated workstations, and microplate readers.
Based on application, the global lab automation market is bifurcated into drug discovery, clinical diagnostics, genomics solutions, microbiology, and others.
The drug discovery segment owns the highest market and is predicted to exhibit a CAGR of 8.50% over the forecast period. Drug discovery labs can reduce the process of designing, synthesizing, and screening a compound from weeks to days. This process is very complex and requires longer. This is the reason behind the limited number of people in the drug discovery process. In addition, many companies are focusing on reducing these risks from the drug development process. One solution for these problems is laboratory automation in the market. Automated robots and workstations help researchers rapidly evaluate many compounds' activity against a specific biological target, which is made possible through high-throughput screening. One of the major advantages is that it enables them to test thousands to hundreds of thousands of agents (small molecules or functional genomics tools) rapidly and reproducibly. In laboratories, procedures are automated using robots, plate readers, and specialized instrumentation control and data processing software.
Based on automation, the global lab automation market is segmented into task-targeted automation, subtotal automation, and total laboratory automation segments.
The subtotal automation segment is the largest contributor to the market and is projected to exhibit a CAGR of 8.51% over the forecast period. The lab process is generally classified into preanalytical, analytical, and post-analytical stages. When one or two stages in this process are automated, it is called subtotal automation. These are usually stand-alone or independent specimen processing systems that are automated for various tasks. The subtotal automation costs are lower than the total laboratory automation implementation. Some medium and a few smaller labs plan to move toward subtotal automation. However, this trend has changed, and more labs are moving completely to total laboratory automation to increase quality and reduce turnaround time. Beckman Coulter has one of the subtotal automation product systems, the AutoMate 800 Sample Processor, designed for laboratories with daily workloads of 500–1500 specimens.
Based on the end-user, the global lab automation market is bifurcated into biotech and pharma, hospitals and diagnostic labs, forensics, food and beverage, environmental testing laboratory, and research and academic institutes.
The biotech and pharma segment dominates the global market and is predicted to exhibit a CAGR of 8.62% during the forecast period. The biotechnology and pharma companies use automated laboratory instruments largely. May pharma companies use automated lab equipment in quality testing and their research and development platforms. Manufacturing facilities have started to create paperless labs, optimize testing, and automate processes for their quality analysis process. The improved agility with reduced testing time can reduce lead times for quality control labs by 60% to 70%, eventually leading to real-time product releases. Regularly testing the microbial load of raw materials and finished products is an important process in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. Sophisticated analytical methods have been widely applied for quality control analysis in the pharmaceutical sector.
Based on region, the global lab automation market is bifurcated into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa.
North America is the most significant global lab automation market shareholder and is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 7.24% over the forecast period. The US adopted the successful lab automation approach after Japan at first. Many hospitals began to automate their labs to deal with the lack of lab staff, enhance the caliber of test decisions, and improve patient care. Traditional device-based diagnostics were more expensive for insurance companies. Therefore, some insurance companies and government organizations cut back on reimbursement throughout the previous ten years. As a result, they began to use new instruments, which is when the market saw the introduction of automation. This circumstance forced hospitals and labs to choose lab automation. In addition, more than 530 regenerative medicine companies and stem cell medicine manufacturers are in the region. These companies are primarily involved in the R&D of products. The laboratories required for these procedures involve advanced infrastructures such as automated analyzers and liquid-handling instruments connected with LIMS to handle and track many samples, thereby fostering the regional market growth.
Europe is anticipated to exhibit a CAGR of 7.80% over the forecast period. The market is growing at a fast phase compared with other regions. The use of rapid testing and POC in hospitals is on the rise across Europe. EDs are adopting rapid flu tests to speed up time-to-diagnosis and address the burden on departments during flu season. Europe is one of the matured markets for in-vitro diagnostics, and the large laboratory instruments are highly automated compared with most POCT devices. Automation has increased the speed and ease of devices; the workforce is completely trained and adapted to that technology. In addition, the region is undergoing various advances in the regenerative landscape, with the introduction of advanced infrastructure for cell and gene therapies competing with the US market. This, in turn, will boost the demand for lab automation in the region.
Asia-Pacific is home to more than half of the world's population, and the majority of people there still have access to subpar healthcare. The region comprises diverse countries with varying needs. The healthcare segment is developed in certain countries, whereas other countries are still in their early developmental stages. However, the rise in infectious diseases and the aging population, combined with the country's limited healthcare resources, will cause the region's diagnostics market to grow faster. In addition, Asia-Pacific is dealing with escalating demands from a variety of stakeholders, including doctors looking for tools to help with decision-making, hospitals looking for quicker, more precise solutions, labs trying to make the best use of their current resources and health systems, and healthcare providers changing their delivery models to cut costs. These factors are driving them to move to automation.
Latin America has significant socio-economic contrasts and accounts for more than 5% of the global population. Due to the increase in research labs and growth in the processing industry, Latin America is expected to become a significant market for the food processing and cannabis industries. These factors are predicted to propel the demand for lab automation in Latin America. The penetration of genome-sequencing products is lesser in Latin America compared with regions such as North America and Europe. In addition, factors such as lack of infrastructure, shortage of trained professionals for treating patients, high cost of products, and scarcity of genome and genetic research-based products are limiting the growth prospects of Latin America.
The Middle East and Africa also witness lab automation market progress. More than 60 of the biggest oil refineries in the world are situated in the Middle East. The region's demand for infectious disease diagnosis is increasing with the rising disposable income and rapidly emerging healthcare infrastructure. Moreover, with the addition of new hospitals each year, the chances of infectious disease diagnostics from hospitals and other laboratories and healthcare facilities are likely to increase, which will further drive the market in the coming years.
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