A new system developed by the Taihei Environmental Science Center automates water testing in order to detect bacteria and E. coli. The system uses three robots to automate the entire process from start to finish. This includes collecting a predetermined sample, injecting agar, agitating, coagulating and inverting. The robots then place and store the cultures in incubators. This process helps to eliminate human error, improving test accuracy while also increasing processing capacity.
“Firstly, the system must be installed in an atmosphere completely free of bacteria," said Masatoshi Sakamota, president of the Taihei Environmental Science Center. "So, it is installed in a clean room. Only the air which passes through a 0.3-micron HEPA filter can enter the clean room, so the system is virtually free of bacteria. Due to this, the testing is done in an extremely clean environment.”
Using the robots allows for the tests to be performed 50 percent quicker, which means they can test 100 samples in just two hours. Each sample is given a unique QR code, which helps to eliminate issues like mislabeling. While it currently is only being used to detect bacteria and E. coli in water, the robots were actually designed to test for other types of bacteria in many other applications. “The system costs 25-35 million yen (US$250,000-350,000), but if users test a lot of samples, they can recover the cost in 5-10 years. In that case, this system could save users quite a lot of money," Sakamota said.
Taihei is hoping to sell their system to certified environmental surveyors and food manufacturers.
Learn more about the automated robotic water testing in the video below.