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March 2012 HPLC System Product Survey Results

Manufacturers of high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) systems continue to innovate, while simultaneously providing upgrade paths for older instruments.

Manufacturers of high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) systems continue to innovate, while simultaneously providing upgrade paths for older instruments. Modular HPLC systems provide maximum flexibility and upgradability compared with “one box” integrated chromatographs. By switching modules, users can access the latest technology while reducing downtime during repair or servicing. On the other hand, integrated systems are less expensive because they use only one power supply, one set of communication electronics, and one cover. Since HPLCs are long-lived instruments, upwards and downwards compatibility is a major concern. Compatibility also provides a relatively straightforward upgrade path, provided components are replaceable and the manufacturer has embraced open architecture. For example, older instruments may access quick-change valve technology, which facilitates plumbing tasks.

During the last decade we have witnessed the debut and evolution of ultra-high-performance LC (UHPLC), widespread adoption of mass detectors, and greater appreciation for rapid methods based on novel or revived column technologies. Compared with HPLC, UHPLC provides improved resolution, sensitivity, and throughput through the use of sub-2μ particles, typically packed in 2.1mm or 1.0mm ID (internal diameter) columns. Since Lab Manager's HPLC survey in 2011, the number of UHPLC systems used in labs increased 3%.

In selecting an HPLC system, you want to look at identifying both operating and acquisition cost, service, support and training. Understanding your throughput requirements will let you know how much automation is required. Cost of ownership for an HPLC system increases with instrument complexity and usage and is complicated by several factors, for example operational robustness, minimal repairs and downtime, and rapid diagnostics for maintenance and repair. To manage operating costs, vendors are working to deliver systems that require less frequent maintenance and are easier to service. If your lab had purchased a new HPLC system in the last five years and you look at throughput and quality of data, the cost of ownership has dropped.

Don’t confuse cost and value. The features most users look for in HPLC have not substantially changed over the past several years, according to one expert we spoke to recently.

Customers continue to look for:

  • Productivity in terms of speed and cost per analysis and throughput, hence the increase interest in UHPLC systems.
  • Reliability in terms of sensitivity and flow rates
  • Ability to handle increasing complexity and wide range of challenges

Most important factors in the decision-making process when buying an HPLC system:

High Sensitivity 100%
Precise and accurate flow rates 98%
Quality of Data 100%
Increase lab throughput 87%
Availability of supplies and accessories 100%
Price 98%
Handle a wide range of analytical challenges 98%
Maintenance 96%
Ease-of-use 94%
Service and support 94%
Warranties 93%
Ease of installation 83%
Small footprint 81%

Here are the types of HPLC systems our respondents are using in their facilities:

Analytical HPLC 48%
Ion Chromatograph 14%
Preparative HPLC 10%
GPC 7%
FPLC/Bio 2%
Other: 2%

An HPLC system consists of a mobile phase, a pump, an injector, a column and a detector. Manufacturers typically offer these components as a system; however, there can be a mixing of the system components from various vendors.

Which of the following HPLC system components do you also use?

Autosampler 21%
Column heater 20%
Data system 19%
Degasser 19%
Automated valve 11%
Fraction collector 6%
Solvent recycler 3%
Don’t know 1%

Please select the field of work that most closely aligns with your lab.

Pharmaceutical industry 20%
Biochemistry and biology 13%
Environment 13%
Chemical 10%
Food and beverages 10%
Hospital/Medical Center 8%
Quality control 5%
Fuels 2%
Microbiology 2%
Plastics 2%
Other: 16%

For more information on HPLC systems, visit

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