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New Automated Sample Preparations Platform for Medium Throughput

The Resolvex Prep can eliminate the need for dedicated sample preparation stations for analytical chemistry

The new Resolvex Prep on a light blue background

Designed for medium-throughput laboratories, the Resolvex Prep is an automated solution built to handle batches of five to 100 samples.

Ian Black, MSComm, MSc

Ian Black is the assistant editor for LabX. Before joining the team, he obtained a masters in science communication from Laurentian University and an MSc in biology from Brock University....

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Analytical chemistry labs run a wide range of different tests using techniques such as liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry and require extensive sample preparation. Recently, there has been a shift to automating sample preparation to reduce errors. However, many sample preparation platforms are unique to the machine that runs the specific analysis. This is economical for high-throughput labs, but for the medium- to low-throughput laboratories, it’s inefficient to have so many sample preparation platforms. To solve this need, TECAN has launched the Resolvex Prep, a sample preparation platform that is automated and can be adapted to accommodate a wide range of different analytical tests and workflows.

Designed for medium-throughput laboratories, the Resolvex Prep is an automated solution built to handle batches of five to 100 samples. This makes it a more cost-effective tool for smaller labs than larger platforms. “The big platforms have much more functionality than you would actually use, and so it's quite complex for a simple workflow,” says Manuel Bauer, associate director of mass spectrometry. “That's why we needed something that is somewhat simpler and easier to use and does not have that overkill of functionality that the bigger platforms have.” 

The Resolvex Prep is a single arm instrument that uses RFID tags as a means of automatically tracking what syringes, trays, and racks are being used. The RFID tag tracking means users can dedicate specific syringes to specific tasks, such as using the same syringe exclusively for internal standards or for sample distribution, helping avoid contamination. The system will also check to make sure that all the components of the desired workflow are present and in the correct position, enabling users to switch between multiple workflows without worrying about causing errors. 

“If you have several workloads on the same instrument where you need to modify the worktable, [before] each run the instrument will check is each carrier in the correct position? Is the right table set up as I have it in the software? Then it will also verify ‘do I have vials at each position that I expect the vial, and do I have samples and output loops and filters on each position where I expect them?’ And only if that is also filled then the workflow will actually start,” says Bauer.

Troubleshooting a new workflow

Because the Resolvex Prep has greater simplicity than the higher throughput platforms, it can have improved flexibility so that researchers can automate multiple different workflows. There is a tradeoff here, though, in that the Resolvex Prep is not as smart as some of the larger stations. This means the system lacks certain features like liquid level detection, so if a user fails to check solvent levels at the start of a run, the system won’t notice until after the run has started. If there is an error during a run, then the platform will use audio and visual signifiers to draw attention. Bauer also indicated that Tecan is working on a means of having error messages be communicated directly to the researchers’ phone via an already developed app called Connect. While this feature has yet to be implemented at time of writing, it is software improvements like this that Tecan is focusing on to make using the Resolvex Prep platform as streamlined as possible.

Additionally, there is technical support available, provided by Tecan, to assist with any set-up or troubleshooting problems. “We have application specialists that are trained on the software and they would be the first line of support,” says Bauer. “If it's a simple question, the help desk will be able to help. If that's not the case, then we have an expert line, which is in the second level and they have some more in-depth knowledge.”

By eliminating the need for multiple, dedicated preparation stations, the Resolvex Prep, allows flexible, automated sample preparation for medium-throughput analytical chemistry that saves space in the lab. “The approach that is taken here is that you have one central sample preparation workstation that can do various different workflows on the same platform and then you will only need very simple auto samplers at the GC, LCMS systems because the only thing you hand over is the autosampler rack,” concludes Bauer.