Robotic Cage Washing

The rapidly increasing use of mice in molecular biology research and the resulting large increase in the mouse cage census of many facilities has led to the initiation of robotics into the care of laboratory animals.41,42,43 To date, the use of robots has been limited to having a robot on each end of a tunnel washer and dryer (Figure 8.24). On the soiled side, a robot picks soiled cages off of a cart, typically one to four cages at a time, dumps the bedding into a disposal unit that automatically transports and deposits the bedding in a disposal container outside the facility, and then places the cages on the tunnel washer belt. At the clean end of the tunnel washer, a second robot picks the cages off of the washer belt, places them under an automatic bedding dispenser, and then stacks them filled with bedding on a cart. This requires using an indexing tunnel washer and dryer that stops while the robot is loading and unloading the belt on long extensions on both ends that hold, for example, 16 to 20 cages at a time. Because the belt does not run continuously, indexing tunnel washers may have automatic sliding doors that separate the various sections of the washer.

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