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Analytical instruments in a lab setting

Results from the Lab Manager Analytical Instrument Survey

From maintenance to purchasing, find out what Lab Manager readers had to say about analytical instruments

Catherine Crawford-Brown

Catherine Crawford-Brown is the digital media coordinator for Lab Manager. She has an M.Sc. in pathology and molecular medicine from Queen's University, where she researched circulating biomarkers for breast cancer....

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We asked Lab Manager readers to tell us about their analytical instrument use including those instruments used for spectrophotometry, chromatography, mass spectrometry, NMR, elemental analysis, TOC analysis, X-ray analysis, particle sizing, calorimetry, pH analysis, viscometry, refractometry, spectrophotometry, titration, and balances.

The majority of Lab Manager analytical instrument users are employing this equipment for analytical chemistry applications.

What applications are you using analytical instruments for?

Analytical Chemistry68.70%
Environmental Testing (e.g. water, soil)32.96%
Clinical Analysis (e.g. blood, urine, tissue)26.32%
Life Science Research (e.g. metabolomics, genomics, proteomics)24.93%
Materials Characterization and Research22.99%
Pharmaceutical Analysis17.73%
Food & Beverage Analysis16.07%
Petrochemical Testing9.14%
Forensic Analysis8.59%


Maintenance plays an important role in ensuring the accuracy of the results produced by your analytical instruments. Approximately 40 percent of respondents reported that in-house staff perform their analytical instrument maintenance while a further 36 percent use the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for servicing.

Who performs your analytical instrument maintenance?

In-house staff39.44%
Original equipment manufacturer (OEM)35.56%
Third-party service provider10.28%
Multi-vendor service provider8.89%
Combination of the above4.44%

Survey respondents frequently commented on the high cost of service contracts and slow turnaround times for getting service technicians into their facilities to repair and maintain their analytical instruments. For those who perform in-house maintenance, detailed troubleshooting and maintenance sections in the manual from the OEM makes servicing easier. However, many respondents wish that more of the instrument servicing could be done by the user.

Purchasing Plans

Approximately 84 percent of survey respondents are looking to purchase an analytical instrument in the near future. The highest percentage of respondents are looking to purchase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), technology that has wide applications in analytical chemistry and that enables the separation, identification, and quantification of compounds in a sample. The main reason for purchasing new analytical instruments is to replace aging systems.

If you are planning to purchase new analytical instruments, what is your primary reason?

Replacing aging system46.86%
Adding to existing systems, increasing capacity36.30%
Purchasing for the first time7.59%
Changing to a different method4.95%
Setting up a new lab2.64%

More than 90 percent of survey respondents agreed that reliability and accuracy are the most important factors to consider when purchasing analytical instruments. Less than one quarter of respondents thought that a small footprint or size was important to consider, even though space is typically limited in laboratories.

Please rate the following factors/features that influence your decision-making process when purchasing products and services.

Very important
Ease of use65.35%
Service and support64.87%
Low operating costs59.09%
Low maintenance / easy to clean55.40%
Safety features47.88%
Compatibility with current equipment44.35%
Small footprint / size23.99%

Another important feature to consider when purchasing analytical instruments is the accompanying software. Many respondents commented on the importance of having user-friendly and intuitive software paired with analytical instruments. Users also pointed out that the frequency of software updates can disrupt their workflows and they would like to be better informed when updates become available.