Glossary of Terms Used in These Sections:
APX, AutoLab Process eXpert. The computer system or LAS (see below) that controls the AutoLab track. There are two interfaces between APX and ESP, one in which ESP sends “orders” to APX and one in which APX updates ESP about each tube’s progress on the track system. The ESP orders consist of a tube’s tracking number and the test codes associated with that tube. APX uses its database to associate each test code with a sorter and lane number.
AS/RS, Automated Storage and Retrieval System. This is a very large robotic system, built by Daifuku America Corporation, which is installed in a two-story freezer (-20°C) that is 60 feet long and 30 feet wide. The entire AS/RS system has several windows through which employees and visitors can watch its operations.
AS/RS Refrigerator. A large refrigerated anteroom (+4°C) is installed at one end of the AS/RS freezer. The air in both the refrigerator and freezer is dehumidified to keep the freezer frost-free. By having the refrigerated anteroom installed next to the freezer, the freezer doors are never opened to warm humidified air, only to cold dry air. The AS/RS refrigerator houses three of the tray conveyors, the Motoman AS/RS Sorter, and one of the Daifuku America computers.
AS/RS Shuttle Crane. This is a robotic device that can carry up to two storage trays at a time from an input conveyor and store them on shelves in the AS/RS. It can also bring up to two trays at a time out from other shelves to an output conveyor. Total travel time for a shuttle crane trip is 50 seconds on average. The shuttle crane is supported by a track on the floor of the freezer and another track on the ceiling of the freezer. It is powered by a third rail (just like a subway system). ARUP’s AS/RS has three shuttle cranes supporting six total aisles of storage shelves.
AS/RS Sorter. This is a robotic machine, built by Motoman, which is attached to one of the AS/RS conveyors. It is housed in the AS/RS Refrigerator. The AS/RS Sorter retrieves tubes that have been checked out by employees using ESP Checkout from the trays and places them in small plastic racks. When employees scan their employee badges at the ESP RACS Rack Retrieval Station, the AS/RS Sorter places the racks containing the employees’ tubes on an outbound rack conveyor. When the rack reaches the end of the conveyor, a white signal light indicates the door can be opened to take the rack.
Automated Glopper. A robotic device, built by Motoman, that is attached to the end of the AutoLab track that passes though the Motoman Storage AutoSorter. This device automatically squeezes 10 STCs together into a linear glop. Multiple linear glops can then be squeezed together into a large glop on the deck of the Automated Glopper.
Automated Transport and Sorting System. The AutoLab Automated Track System. In contrast to automation systems in other laboratories, the system used at ARUP does not have any analyzers interfaced to the track, nor does it have automated functions such as centrifugation or aliquotting.
Detail Sorter. An extra AutoLab sorter on the Automated Track System. It can be used to back up any of the other AutoLab sorters or the Motoman Storage AutoSorter should any of those devices be out of operation. The Detail Sorter can also be used to perform sub-sorts of specimens for specific laboratory sections, for example to sort specimens into individual tests or worksheets.
ESP, Expert Specimen Processing. This is ARUP’s proprietary software system developed to support automation. See Expert Specimen Processing for details about the various modules of ESP.
Glop. A block of STCs that have been “glopped” together to make a block. A glop can be of any size. Two sizes frequently seen around ARUP are 10x10 and 6x12. The glop can serve as a specimen tube rack for convenience, or it is also a way of storing STCs on shelves until the STCs are needed by Specimen Processing. Using glops to transport specimens to and from laboratory sections has saved considerable extra handling of tubes.
LAS, Laboratory Automation System. This term, as used in the automation industry and standards, refers to the computer system or computer functions that control and operate an automation system. APX is the LAS for the AutoLab Automated Transport and Sorting System.
LIS, Laboratory Information System. The computer system generally used by a laboratory to enter orders, report results, monitor quality control, etc. ARUP’s LIS is Cerner’s Millennium PathNet.
SAS, Storage AutoSorter. This is a robotic machine, built by Motoman, which is attached to the AutoLab track system. The Motoman SAS can remove up to 1000 tubes per hour from STCs on the track and place those tubes in their correct storage trays. An attached automated glopper device “glops” 10 STCs at a time as they exit the SAS.
STC, Standardized Transport Carrier. These are the small grey plastic carriers that transport individual specimen tubes on the AutoLab track system. The STCs are similar to plastic Lego™ blocks in that they can be snapped together in two directions to make glops (tube racks).