Walk-away system to count colonies on 300 plates per hour

Published: 9-May-2017

Development collaboration between Synbiosis and AAA Lab Equipment to integrate colony counting system in an automated plate feeder

Synbiosis, manufacturer of automated microbiological systems, will begin a new development collaboration with laboratory automation firm, AAA Lab Equipment. The collaboration is to integrate a ProtoCOL 3 colony counting system within an Irina automated plate feeder.

The integrated system will allow microbiologists to load plates and count colonies on up to 500 plates in 90 minutes, improving throughput and accuracy in QC laboratories.

Engineers at AAA Lab Equipment are working with Synbiosis to integrate the ProtoCOL 3 colony counter into their Irina automated plate feeding system.

The plate feeder holds up to 500 90mm plates in two carousels and automatically removes a plate from the carousel, reads and scans barcodes, removes the lid (if required) and will transfer the plate into an automated colony counter.

Initially, AAA’s technical experts are re-engineering the plate feeder’s design for the ProtoCOL 3 system.

Engineers at AAA are also working to ensure the plate feeder will transfer a plate to the ProtoCOL 3, where a high-resolution CCD camera and LED lighting will produce images of colonies as small as 43 microns.

The ProtoCOL 3 software will count colonies and produce accurate results which will be automatically transferred to Excel or a LIMS system and plate images will be stored in an SQL database.

Additionally, AAA’s software experts are programming the plate feeder to take account of the time a ProtoCOL 3 needs to count the colonies on each plate, to ensure the plate feeder’s loading arm replaces the plate into a second carousel after it has been analysed so that microbiologists know which plates have been read.


Peter Krul, CEO of AAA Lab Equipment said: “We were approached by a large food microbiology testing facility in 2016 and asked if we could integrate an automated colony counter into our Irina plate feeder.”

“Since then we have been working with the Synbiosis team for six months to re-engineer our plate feeder hardware and software for use with a ProtoCOL 3 colony counter.”

“We know now that we can custom produce this walkaway technology for any food or environmental microbiology client requesting it.”

Kate George, Senior Divisional Manager at Synbiosis, said: “Integrating the ProtoCOL 3 into the Irina plate feeder will ensure quick, accurate generation of fully traceable data and will provide a significant competitive advantage for any high throughput microbiology testing facility using this exciting technology.”

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