Laboratory automation refers to a collection of technologies that are involved in the automatization of repetitive laboratory protocols. It consists of six categories: liquid handling; microplate readers; LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System), ELN/LES (Electronic Laboratory Notebook/Laboratory Execution System) and SDMS (Scientific Data Management System); multiplex and high-throughput ELISA systems; informatics; and robotics. These techniques aim to increase the speed, efficiency and accuracy of lab work, and enhance overall productivity.
In 2016, the laboratory automation market captured around 8% of the total analytical and life science instrumentation market, amounting to approximately $4.3 billion. This market is estimated to grow 3.3% this year, mainly fueled by a healthy and growing pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector.
Segmenting the market by technology type shows the leading position of liquid handling, which alone owns nearly 32% of the market. This segment contains both automated workstations and manual pipetting solutions. It is expected to grow 2.7% in 2017, driven mostly by increased demand for automated workstations. While the top vendors for automated liquid handling systems are Tecan and PerkinElmer, the major players in the pipette space are Eppendorf and Mettler-Toledo.
The microplate reader segment makes up around one-fifth of the market. This technology is heavily used by the pharmaceutical and biotech sector, mostly due to its high-throughput nature, facilitating drug discovery and assay-development efforts. A growth rate of 3.5% is projected for microplate readers in 2017. Molecular Devices (Danaher) and PerkinElmer are industry leaders in this market.
The LIMS, ELN/LES and SDMS segment takes up almost 16% of the market, with an estimated growth rate of 3.6% this year. Service constitutes almost half of this market, as demand has matured over the last few years with fewer new installations. The major players in this segment are LabWare and Thermo Fisher Scientific.
With a market share of 13%, the multiplex and high-throughput ELISA systems segment has the fastest growth rate in the lab automation market at 5.7%. This growth is mainly driven by the willingness of traditional ELISA system users to replace their systems with faster and more high-throughput units. The hospital and clinical sector is the largest consumer of these technologies, accounting for 45% of the market. This is primarily due to the central role of ELISAs in developing numerous medical diagnostic tests. Luminex and Meso Scale Discovery are the leaders in this product segment.
Informatics and robotics, with market shares of 12% and 9%, respectively, are the smallest segments of the lab automation market.
The top six companies in the lab automation space account for 40% of the global market. Tecan, with a share of 9%, is the market leader. However, it is closely followed by two competitors, Thermo Fisher Scientific and PerkinElmer, each with an 8% market share. The next three major firms are Eppendorf, BIOVIA (Dassault Systèmes) and Luminex, each having 5% of the market.