ARUP Laboratories is a national clinical and anatomic pathology reference laboratory and a worldwide leader in innovative laboratory research and development. A nonprofit enterprise of the University of Utah, ARUP offers an extensive test menu of highly complex and unique medical tests. The lab is one of the largest medical reference laboratories in the world.
“Some 30,000 to 35,000 tests and test combinations flow through ARUP on a daily basis, all connected to a patient somewhere in the country— often test results that will inform physicians to immediately begin life-saving treatments ranging from cancer patients, those with rare diseases, to newborns,” points out Peta Owens-Liston, an ARUP Public Relations Specialist.
ARUP Laboratories is featured in the A2Z Manufacturing magazine because their life-saving efforts are supported by new and innovative manufacturing technologies.
When Engineer Chris Semrow joined ARUP several years ago, his priority program was to automate ARUP’s laboratory environment. Chris says, “Our automation project was introduced 7 years ago, and it took 5 years from conception to completion.”
Today, ARUP automates sorting, labeling, capping and decapping of test tubes of every type. Prior to automation, all of these tedious tasks were done manually. Chris’ team was chartered with the buildout to make the automation possible. “After we did the design work in house, we relied upon machine and fabrication shops throughout Utah and Colorado to make the parts,” says Chris. He adds, “It took weeks or longer for us to get the completed parts. Naturally, we weren’t a high priority for our suppliers, since the parts we needed were relatively small in quantity.”
In the end, Dan chose the Romi machine tool, and he purchased it from Smith Machinery. “The Romi came highly recommended from one of my previous colleagues,” says Chris.
The ROMI C 420 CNC Lathe that the company purchased offers great versatility for machining different types of parts, with great power levels, speed movement and machining precision. Dan says, “I looked at a number of machines, and the Romi was the best decision for a few key reasons:
1) We didn’t need a production capable machine tool with accessories we wouldn’t use. We do R&D prototypes (quantities of 1-10) and other small quantity machining. The Romi fit this requirement.
2) We did require a machine that could make high precision parts. The Romi afforded us the ability to machine parts with tight tolerances, particularly the custom lab threads that were needed. Chris says, “These threads are custom– you can’t just buy them off the shelf.”
3) We needed a machine that was intuitive and easy to program. Dan had some previous experience with a Romi machine tool and he knew that it would be relatively easy to learn.
4) Support was key. Dan says, “We had some really good onsite training when we first purchased the Romi machine, and since then, we can call Smith Machinery or Romi at any time. We have sent snapshots of the controls and they are able to help us quickly and professionally.”
The Romi has proven to be a superior cost savings device for ARUP. Dan says, “We used to have maintenance contracts for our machines and for the equipment in our automation line. Today, we take worn-out components, we reverse engineer them, and then we redesign them so that they last longer and work better than we would get from our builders.” Typical machine parts that ARUP’s machine shop makes on their Romi include: screws, shafts, knobs, trays, spacers, and pipette holders, to name a few.
Today, ARUP not only has a machine shop that is dedicated to supporting ARUP internally, but they also opened a fabrication/precision sheet metal shop with three full time machinist. Chris says, “We fabricate and weld steel frames and other products that go into the automation center.”