Differences Between Laboratory Schedulers and Orchestrators

By Paul Berning

By Paul Berning

Schedulers and Orchestrators in Laboratory Execution Software (LES)

As labs explore higher-level automation solutions, two different types of Laboratory Execution Software (LES) come into play: schedulers and orchestrators. Each play a distinct role in the seamless operation of automated workflows. Whether you’re looking to increase sample throughput, optimize data structures, or minimize machine downtime, there are different factors to consider when determining which LES is the right fit for your lab.

In this blog post, we will discuss the differences between these two types of LES and explore how they contribute to the success of laboratory automation. Spoiler alert: one does not replace the other.

Orchestrators

Schedulers

  • Workflow Design and Integration
  • Error Handling and Recovery
  • Data Management
  • Task Allocation
  • Time Management
  • Resource Optimization

Orchestrators in Laboratory Automation

Orchestrators are the backbone of any automated system. They can replace the native software of a device and provide a bottom-up approach to instrument utilization. The primary function is to execute individual tasks within a workflow across any number of devices, creating an end-to-end application. Other functions include:
  • Workflow Design and Integration   Orchestrators oversee the entire workflow from start to finish, and integrate various tasks seamlessly.  It is important to utilize an orchestrator that fits your skill set when it comes to authoring your scientific protocol or choosing instruments you would like to integrate with. 
  • Error Handling and Recovery   Orchestrators are equipped to detect errors or deviations in the workflow and trigger appropriate responses. This may involve re-running specific tasks, notifying operators, or taking corrective actions to maintain the integrity of the experiment.
  • Data Management   Orchestrators often include features for handling and storing data generated during the experiment. This may involve sending data to external databases, generating reports, or archiving results for future analysis.
  • Task Allocation   Orchestrators are responsible for assigning specific tasks to the appropriate instruments or modules within the lab. This involves optimizing the use of resources and minimizing downtime.

Schedulers in Laboratory Automation

While orchestrators focus on the micro-level coordination of tasks, schedulers operate at a higher level with a top-down approach, managing the entire workflow by kicking off individual protocols from the instrument’s native software in sequence to ensure collaboration between and across systems. 

  • Time Management  Schedulers create timelines for each task, dictating when it should start and how long it should take. This helps in planning and optimizing the overall workflow.
  • Resource Optimization   Efficient use of laboratory resources, such as instruments, consumables, and personnel, is a crucial aspect of scheduling. Schedulers aim to minimize idle time and maximize throughput.

Schedulers and Orchestrators Working Together

Schedulers and orchestrators both play vital roles in advancing laboratory spaces that have adopted automation to maximize efficiency. As technology and scientific demands continue to advance, the collaboration between these two components will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of automated laboratories.

Genie LabOS provides a single platform for novice to advanced users to design, manage, and orchestrate end-to-end scientific applications. LabOS allows you to natively control various lab instrumentation and integrates with your schedulers. This gives you the agility your lab requires to easily modify protocols while making the most of your devices with the help of a scheduler. 

To learn more about how LabOS can seamlessly automate your workflows, reach out to our team here.

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