Kawasaki Launches Automated PCR Testing Services

Oct. 22, 2020

Tokyo, October 22, 2020 — Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. announced today the start of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing services carried out using a mobile, automated system operated by robots.
The spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to restrictions on people's activities, which has had major impacts across a wide range of industries. Restoring people's abilities to move about and undertake normal activities for purposes of economic recovery is viewed as an urgent social issue by governments and industries in Japan and other nations throughout the world.


Since the early days of the COVID-19's outbreak, Kawasaki has worked together with Medicaroid Corporation and Sysmex Corporation to develop an automated PCR testing system operated by robots with the goal of protecting medical personnel from infection risk.


Kawasaki's newly launched PCR testing services use robots to eliminate the need for human personnel and achieve automation for processes that would normally expose workers to infection risk. This ensures safety for medical personnel while also achieving short turnaround times (80 minutes or less) for the testing process—from sample reception to test results notification via hospitals. Testing services use a combined-package system housed in 40-foot containers, with each container processing up to 2,000 samples every 16 hours. This format enables easy relocation of the testing system to areas where people gather, and container numbers can be increased or decreased as necessary for flexible response to test number requirements. Furthermore, the system's use of general-purpose robots makes process changes easy—it can be adapted to test for influenza and other infection types as well.


Because the effects of reduced international travel have greatly impacted the airline industry in particular, Kawasaki plans to first deploy these systems in international airports for pre-boarding tests in order to stimulate increased air travel demand. The company will also utilize the systems at train stations, venues for sporting events and other large-scale events, and similar locations in order to help people engage in normal activities more freely again and thus restart and revitalize economic activities.


Advantages of Kawasaki's Mobile, Automated PCR Testing System

1.  Shorter testing times (completed within 80 minutes) while still using a globally accepted PCR testing method

2. Automation and elimination of human workers by the use of robots in the PCR testing process to reduce the burden on doctors and other medical workers

3. Remotely controlled operations for greater safety, simplified operations and reduced labor demand

4. Possible to automate in accordance with the required protocols of the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, and of medical associations

        5. Designed to meet space-saving needs (system fits into a 40-foot container and is movable