Top 7 Questions You Should Ask When Buying an Automated Liquid Handling System
- What kind(s) of dispensing technology is used? Peristaltic pump dispensing offers low prime volumes and backflushing; microprocessor- controlled syringes have fast output and high precision. Hybrid detection systems combine both technologies in one and can even add washing functions.
- Is plate handling automatable? Manual plate handling can slow productivity. Automating the process with a compatible microplate stacker increases throughput with walk-away operation.
- Can it accommodate magnetic or plastic bead-based assays? If using bead-based assays, it should be equipped with appropriate magnets or vacuum filtration for critical wash steps.
- What is the volume range, and how many different sample vessel types may be used?
- Ask about the software—is it integrated and user-friendly? Does it allow for pre-programmed and custom protocols?
- What is the flow rate spectrum? A wide flow rate spectrum allows use with sensitive cell-based assays to viscous liquids.
- What assay validation data is available for this specific liquid handler? This provides proof that the instrument performs as indicated.
Types of automated liquid handling instruments used by survey respondents:
|Individual benchtop workstations||30%|
When asked which of the following procedures respondents used ALH systems, for they replied as follows:
|Whole genome amplification||4%|
|High-density array printing||0%|
Nearly 38% of respondents plan on purchasing a new ALH system in the next year. The estimated budget ranges for these purchases are as follows:
|$10,000 to $20,000|
|$20,000 to $30,000|
Top 10 features/factors respondents look for when purchasing an ALH system:
|Safe sample handling - No cross contamination||68%|
|Accuracy and precision for a wide range of compatible fluids||66%|
|Maintenance / Service / Availability of accessories and replacement parts||59%|
|Pipetting flexibility - Pipette with 384, 96, 24, 16, 12 or 8 tips||41%|
|Maximum operator safety||40%|
|Sample tracking - Automated recording and sample data documentation with a choice of bar code readers||30%|
|Ability to expan on instrument as requirements change||23%|
|Size - Small footprint||21%|
For more information on automated liquid handling systems, including useful articles and a list of manufacturers, visit www.labmanager.com/liquid-handling