With a rapidly aging population that urgently requires sophisticated medical devices and newer drugs, robotics systems are increasingly adopted for improved productivity and efficiency to meet this demand.
Shortage of skilled labor in the industry has been a major issue for manufacturers within North America, and medical and pharmaceuticals sector is not an exception. Rather, heavy shortage of trained personnel has been recorded over the last 10 years by Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in pharmaceutical and clinical research laboratories. With most certified medical technicians retiring by 2010, and fewer students enrolling for graduate programs in this field, robotics will be increasingly employed to fight these challenges and help the manufacturers gain a higher margin in the profits.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (www.industrialautomation.frost.com), "North American Industrial Robotics Markets for Medical and Pharmaceutical Applications", reveals total market revenue of $394.0 million in 2004 and expects it to hit $668.4 million in 2011—a compound annual growth rate of 7.8 percent.
Medical and pharmaceutical applications often require stringent environmental conditions. The tasks involved are usually repetitive and the personnel are prone to motion injuries. Lack of highly-skilled labor has been a major issue for medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical and clinical research laboratories, and hospitals over the last 10 years. Robotics has successfully addressed this issue by taking over human labor in these applications. This has resulted in an extensive use of robots in all these fields.
Drug discovery is a painstaking process, requiring significant investments of time and money. Invariably, the first to obtain approval and market a drug captures around 75 percent of the market share. It takes around 12-15 years for a new drug to get approved for public consumption. Hence, accelerating this process is the priority of pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
Robotics has helped reduce the research period and thus accelerated the drug discovery process. Lack of skilled lab technicians has also boosted the adoption of robotics in pharmaceutical lab research activities. Most of these activities are in the drug discovery process, and in the applications of proteomics and genomics. Use of robots has helped in the elimination of errors, increased throughput, and increased ROI.
Pharmaceutical lab automation robots are used mainly for liquid handling applications ranging from genomic and proteomic sample preparations to cell-based and bio-molecular screening assays, drug discovery, microplate management, ELISA surveys, sample vial handling and microfuidics.
Clinical lab automation robots are used in the analysis of blood samples and body fluids within clinical research laboratories and hospitals. These robots are also used in transportation of the samples from one location to another within the laboratories. Additional equipment like chemical analyzers, immunoassay analyzers, and aliquot systems are used for analyzing the samples.
"North American Industrial Robotics Markets for Medical and Pharmaceutical Applications", takes an in-depth look at the total markets for robotics i medical and pharmaceutical applications, segmented on the basis of end-user applications as follows: medical devices manufacturing, pharmaceutical lab automation, surgical robotics and clinical lab automation. It examines major end-user issues, forecasts future trends, and offers strategies to robotics manufacturers to grow within the medical and pharmaceutical sectors.