FAQ

If I have a liquid handling robot why would I need WellAware?

We have several clients that use WellAware for backup for when their robots go down.  When labs rely on full automation a backup is essential for maintaining quality and throughput when the robot goes down.  In addition, WellAware is often faster to setup and run for partial microplate protocols. WellAware is faster and easier to setup for buccal swab or blood card punching sorting, accessioning , hit picking and and for normalizations.


Is WellAware the same as a robotic pipetting system?

No. WellAware is a semi automated, software driven system that allows for manual pipetting with increased speed, accuracy and precision while eliminating errors. WellAware works much like a car navigation system by providing the technician (driver) with visual and voice prompts during the manual pipetting of a protocol. With WellAware, the source and destination plates are placed directly on top of an LCD computer monitor, and the software illuminates the correct source and destination wells for the current protocol step. Once the pipetting step is complete, the footswitch is used to tell the software to light up the next step in the protocol. At the end of the protocol, all steps, including the timestamps, of every step may be saved for future reference.


How much does WellAware cost?

Prices start at under $4,000 if you already have a compatible PC computer (Windows XP and Excel 2007). Please contact BioTX at 877-275-2468 (877-Ask-BioTX) or info@biotx.net for system, accessory, upgrade, volume, and educational discount pricing.


Can the WellAware software be purchased by itself?

Yes, The WellAware software can be purchased separately from a system. Please call 877-275-2468 or email us at info@biotx.net for pricing. System Requirements: The WellAware software requires a PC with Windows XP, Office 2003 or above and 512MB RAM or above. For speech: a sound card and speakers are required.


Does WellAware come with a pipette?

No, but BioTX now sells eLINE electronic pipettors. Check our special offers for WellAware and eLINE pipettor discounts.


Does WellAware improve accuracy and precision?

Yes. By lighting up the correct well(s) for pipetting, WellAware provides the technician with an easy to find guide. WellAware significantly increases speed 30-70% depending on the application and operator while improving accuracy by about 80%. As an added benefit, WellAware maintains consistency between users and physical locations.


Can WellAware be used with deep well plates?

Yes, as long as the plastic material is transparent or semi-transparent, WellAware is able to illuminate the source and destination wells from below. With the Bingo Well callout and Navigator bar feature, even opaque plates may be used. Bingo Well callout uses text to speech (TTS) to call out the source and destination wells while pipetting. The Navigator bar illuminates above, below, to the right and left of the source and target wells outside the footprint of the plate to guide the eye to the correct well.


Can WellAware be customized to my specific type of tube, vial or plate?

Yes, WellAware can be customized to your specifications. One hour of customization/training is included in the system purchase price. WellAware works with most 24, 48, 96 and 384-well microplates, Corbett 72 and 100-well GeneDiscs, tubes, and vials right out of the box.


Can WellAware be used with turbid samples? 

Yes, you can use WellAware with turbid samples by changing the color that lights the wells based on your needs. For example, almost any color works well with clear solutions whereas red works well with turbid bacterial suspensions. The Bingo Callout and Well Targeting functions may also be used to help ensure accurate pipetting. Bingo Well callout uses the text to speech function to call out the source and destination wells while pipetting. The Well Targeting illuminates above, below, to the right and left of the source and target wells outside the footprint of the plate.


What if I spill reagents on the monitor?

All WellAware systems come with water sealed monitors. These water sealed monitors may be bleached for PCR and forensic applications.


Does WellAware log pipetting operations?

Yes, all individual steps are time stamped with the operators name and initials. WellAware automatically logs every step. At the end of pipetting a protocol, WellAware can be set to automatically save the eSOP or it can be set to prompt the operator to save the timestamped eSOP. The eSOP information can be stored for future reference or to simplify the repeating of the protocol at a later time.


What if I am interrupted in the middle of a pipetting operation?

If an operator needs to stop a protocol in the middle, they simply hit the footswitch's ESC button twice to exit out of the pipetting program. Once the operator is ready to proceed: he/she hits the Run button on the footswitch and enter his/her initials.The program will automatically resume where it left off. With WellAware, each individual pipetting step is time stamped, so the user can return to the exact step that he/she left off at before the interruption occurred.


Can I repeat pipetting steps?

Yes. Simply load a previously run eSOP, delete the time stamps in WellAware's Setup Screen and the eSOPs pipetting steps can be repeated.

During the pipetting of a protocol the footswitch or keyboard may be used to backup one step. This is done by hitting the ESC and then Enter buttons to back up one pipetting step. This activity is logged for the step in the timestamp field.


Do I have to use the text to speech audio feature?

No. The software can be used with the text and light cues only. However the voice feature is very helpful in pointing out critical steps and volume changes to the operator while pipetting a protocol. We have recently added audile beeps that are  designed to alert the operator to plate changes, barcode scanning and action steps.


Do I have to use the footswitch?

No. the enter key or mouse can be used too. We have recently added an IR sensor called TipAware II that can be used to operate WellAware hands-free.


Does WellAware help alleviate "pipettor's arm?"

Yes. By focusing the operator's efforts, having a height and angle adjustable working surface, and speeding the pipetting process, shoulder tiring that is often associated with manual pipetting is minimized.


Will WellAware interface with Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS)?

Yes. WellAware protocol files can be made from existing lab work lists that are generated by most LIMS systems for manual pipetting. BioTX programs simple, user-editable Excel macros that convert the existing LIMS worklist data into a WellAware electronic SOP. One hour of customization is included with WellAware which is usually more than sufficient to integrate WellAware with LIMS systems.


Is WellAware compatible with a Macintosh?

No.


I have a WellAware LCD screen or screen protector, how should it be cleaned?

WellAware screen protectors are made out of PETG plastic and the LCD screens are glass. We recommend Ethanol and/or a bleach solution as a cleaning solvent. When cleaning the screen protectors it is important that a non-abrasive solution and cloth be used to avoid scratching the surface. We use Kimwipes for removing the solvent from the screen protectors but any non-scratching lens cleaning towel or wipe will work. In the event that a screen protector becomes damaged, additional 15” LCD screen protectors may be purchased from BioTX.

PETG Plastic Screen Protector Chemical Resistance Information
(Information gathered from NALGENE Labware site http://nalgenelab.nalgenunc.com/techdata/Chemical/index.asp)

Ethanol, 1-100% - Alcohol, Aliphatic
PETG at 20C ..... Little or no damage after 30 days of constant exposure.

Ammonium Hydroxide, 1-10% - Base/Caustic, Inorganic
PETG at 20C ..... Some effect after 7 days of constant exposure.

Ammonium Hydroxide, 11-25% - Base/Caustic, Inorganic
PETG at 20C ..... Immediate damage may occur. Not recommended for continuous use.

Bleach – 1-100% Base/Caustic, Oxidizer
PETG at 20C ..... No damage after 30 days of constant exposure.

Alconox detergent - Detergent
PETG at 20C ..... Little or no damage after 30 days of constant exposure.

Detergent, Haemo-Sol - Detergent
PETG at 20C ..... Little or no damage after 30 days of constant exposure.

Detergent, NALGENE L-900 - Detergent
PETG at 20C ..... No damage after 30 days of constant exposure.

NALGENE L-900 detergent - Detergent
PETG at 20C ..... No damage after 30 days of constant exposure.


What if WellAware breaks?

The WellAware software is warranted to perform the functions defined in the user manual for one year from the date of purchase. If a software bug is found please report it to this email address info@biotx.net, software updates are available on the BioTX website. The components sold with WellAware systems are warranted by the component manufacturers. If a component breaks please contact BioTX at info@biotx.net to request repairs or replacement of broken components. Replacement parts for all WellAware Systems are available from BioTX.


With WellAware is there any computer maintenance necessary, like deleting files after a certain time period, etc?

The most common files WellAware makes are eSOP files, which are the files that list all the pipetting steps along with the timestamp information. These files are useful for documentation of your pipetting procedures (Who did what and when). You may wish to archive them as part of your own documentation trail. WellAware 2.0 saves these eSOP files in the C:\Program Files\WellAware 2.0\Saved Pipetting Files directory and subdirectories. These files vary in size but average about 400KB each. That means for every 2500 files you want to keep on the computer you will need 1GB of hard disk space. Depending on the size of your hard drive and the number of files made per day, you may want to set up a regular (monthly or yearly) archiving process to ensure the hard drive does not fill up over time.