Problem: The past decade has been painful for most labs with some experiencing staff reductions of 50 percent or more along with significant budget reductions. At the same time, demands for services continue to grow, creating a conundrum for lab managers. How can labs continue to provide new tests needed to support the business when the resources needed for method development have been lost and the remaining staff is sprinting to keep up with the daily workload? Nearly all labs report that a shortage of time and skill has become a major impediment to implementing the enhancements needed to keep them competitive, and is a major obstacle in introducing new services that are being demanded by the business.
Solution: Agilent Technologies now offers a solution for the time and skill shortages that lab managers are facing with pre-configured, factory-tested gas chromatographic analyzers. Rather than simply purchasing a gas chromatograph, lab managers can choose from over 200 analyzers or pre-configured gas chromatographs designed to comply with specific ASTM, UOP, EN or GPA standard methods. Agilent engineers design the complex valve configurations required for many hydrocarbon tests and these instrument modifications are made at the factory. Analytical chemists then complete the method development, including software automation and introduction of advanced technologies to increase test speed while remaining fully compliant with the requirements of the specific standard method. These ready-to-run analyzers include everything needed to produce high-quality data right from day one. A typical analyzer will include the GC instrument, Capillary Flow Technology modules, specialized fittings, all necessary auxiliary hardware such as automated sample handlers, high performance application-certified columns and supplies, powerful, easy-to-use software, installation, performance verification, and any required operator training.
Since in-house implementation of new methods typically takes a week or more of chemist and technician time, these pre-configured workflow solutions tend to provide a very cost-effective solution for lab managers. In addition to solving the time and skill shortage problem, many of the analyzers include productivity enhancements such as automated sample preparation and column backflush for fast analyses that are often not implemented by labs due to time constraints or lack of familiarity with these features. By employing advanced technologies, these analyzers generate continuing cost savings year after year by increasing sample throughput, lowering expendables cost, and deferring purchase of additional instrument capacity. The analyzers also deliver superior data quality by utilizing appropriate passive materials in the gas flow stream for especially demanding analyses where these materials might not be present in the off-the-shelf gas chromatograph. For example, the use of special passive surfaces on tubing and valves minimizes sulfur adsorption on metal parts that can lead to poor chromatography for compounds containing this element, especially at low concentrations.
When ordering new instruments that will require customization to comply with specific standard test methods, lab managers should consider the business case for these custom factory analyzers since they will almost always be the most cost effective and reliable business solution. In fact, Agilent or its partners will develop the custom solutions needed by labs in most cases even when they are not already in the current portfolio.
For more information, visit www.chem.agilent.com