6 Questions to Ask When Buying an Automated Liquid Handling System
- What range of volumes can the instrument pipette and how many channels can be pipetted at once?
- What vessel types can be used with the instrument (e.g. tubes or microplates)?
- How much operator intervention does the instrument require? How many deck positions does it accommodate and does it have a gripping tool to move samples?
- Is the instrument customizable? Can it be adapted to meet your future needs?
- Does the instrument have thermal control, UV/HEPA filters, or other features to help protect your samples?
- How user-friendly is the software? Does it allow for both custom and pre-programmed protocols?
Automated liquid handling instruments offer safety advantages to operators by helping them prevent repetitive stress injury from repeated pipetting. However, they also pose risks should an operator try to adjust their samples while the instrument is in use. Many automated liquid handling instruments come with safety features designed to protect the operator while the instrument is running. When considering instruments, look for shields that will prevent the operator from putting their hands in the instrument while it is running. Additionally, look for sensors that will stop the instrument should any foreign objects enter the work area.
Are you noticing variations in your experimental results? It may be time to call your service provider to re-calibrate your automated liquid handling instrument. Because of the sensitivity of these instruments, calibration should always be conducted by a trained professional to ensure accurate pipetting. If you are using your instrument for a specific application, you may want to request that calibration be conducted with your specific assay parameters to ensure reproducible results every time you run the assay.