SoftLinx™ is a powerful multitasking, dynamic scheduling software package for planning and running automated laboratory workcells. It is designed control all the instruments in an automated workcell. It makes the programming and operation of lab automation easy for lab personnel, yet flexible enough for custom modification by programmers.
Intuitive: The user interface includes a drag and drop flow chart-like interface which makes it easy to build a protocol that takes maximum advantage of your instrument configuration. Individual steps can be added, customized or removed, and series of independent or interdependent methods can be defined. Programming control can be added to introduce conditions to the flow of the protocol, and user defined methods can be added through a seamless interface to Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) scripting.
Flexible: SoftLinx turns any large, integrated system into a combination of small virtual workcells, incorporating only the instrumentation that the user needs! SoftLinx’s large library of optional software interfaces for controlling third-party instruments are written in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) script. Users can even write their own, custom interfaces. SoftLinx allows users to start and run additional methods, even while others are already running, even using the same instruments, whether pre-planned or not!
Scheduling: SoftLinx’s opportunistic scheduling features find the most efficient way to perform complex protocols, running different stages of the process simultaneously, and deploying individual robots differently depending on the current state of the system. Any instrument can be run independently to support one-off experiments, while the software circumvents its unavailability to accomplish as much as possible in the meantime.
Predictive: SoftLinx’s predictive scheduler provides a graphical display of plate movement timing for each device in the workcell. SoftLinx assists in method optimization and uses the integrated robotics to always move plates to the next available instrument in the workcell, within the rules of the method. Most instrumentation can be run in “simulate” mode, so users can build and edit protocols without actually requiring the equipment to be available.
SoftLinx is designed to let anyone who can make a flowchart develop a SoftLinx protocol. SoftLinx uses a drag-and-drop flowchart approach to define every movement of every microplate and every instrument action during the protocol.
SoftLinx is a multitasking application capable of dynamic scheduling. It makes the programming and operation of lab automation workcells easy for lab personnel, yet flexible enough for extensive custom modification by programmers.
Users can run multiple batches in different stages of a process at the same time or run any instrument individually while executing another, fully-automated run.
SoftLinx turns even large, integrated systems into combinations of small workcells, mixed and matched whatever way the user may need to use them. SoftLinx’s large library of optional software interfaces for controlling third-party instruments are written in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) script. Users can even write their own, custom interfaces.
SoftLinx allows users to start and run additional methods, even while others are already running, and even using the same instruments.
SoftLinx allows users to:
- Develop Complete Assay Protocols – Define the timing and detailed parameters of each dispense, wash, shake, plate movement, incubation, etc.
- Add individual steps from a library of instrument functions – Each instrument’s interface provides a method object for every available function.
- Add instruments as needed
- Simulate unavailable instrumentation
- Design processes that change dynamically based on results – A further level of flexibility
- Develop and insert user-defined functions with Visual Basic for Applications, giving any SoftLinx protocol access to, literally, any function available to the user’s computer
Protocol Editor allows the user to generate a flow diagram, including all of the process steps desired for this workcell. The user simply drags an icon depicting the desired process step into the flow diagram and enters all parameters associated with the operation identified by that instrument’s device driver, called a “plug-in”. When the protocol design is complete, the user can save the protocol, assign labware input, and then save, or start the protocol using the Run Module.
The Plug-In Manager is used to load, develop or modify instrument interface drivers (called “plug-ins”) that will be used in the automated workcell. The user can also monitor the exact lines of program code that make up the plug-in while it is executing. Each plug-in controls a specific instrument, either a
The Run Module controls execution of every step in a SoftLinx protocol, and dynamically schedules each instrument’s operation. It allows the user to start and stop multiple protocols that can be run in parallel, and provides the user interface, error reporting and real-time control of the entire workcell.
Data Tracking and Handling
SoftLinx allows the user to setup links to any in-hous LIMS system, and to read/write to Oracle, SQLServer, Access, or any common relational database table. SoftLinx automatically records and stores every step executed by the workcell in its own event log SQL Server database as well.
Instrument Device Drivers (Plug-Ins)
SoftLinx has nearly 200 pre-tested instrument interfaces that just “plug in” to your SoftLinx application. Developing a plug-in driver for a new instrument usually takes only a few days, and is routinely done by
- Multitasking executable program with built-in dynamic scheduling
- Connectivity to >100 lab automation devices with Hudson-supplied interfaces
- Icon-based drag-and-drop configuration and method editing
- Individual icons for each connected laboratory instrument
- Capable of simultaneously executing multiple method threads and multiple methods
- Simple “VCR”-type buttons for starting and stopping methods
- Real-time display of all workcell actions during operation of system
- Supports full recovery from unscheduled shutdowns or interruptions
- Superior context sensitive help system
- Encrypted password entry and password change feature for all users
- Multi-level user access and permissions
- Data Audit trail to log all user permitted actions
- Allows operators to add plates to a run already in progress
- Supports parallel assays, resulting in higher throughput
- Facilitates accurate event timing such as incubation periods
- Complex methods can be built using functions such as loops, if-then statements, math and string functions, and timers for incubations
- 21CFR Part 11 compatible