We all know that we need to make sure that we have consistency and accuracy in our data. Determining and understanding the roots of user error is the easy part, but how to minimize or eliminate user error can be difficult. A critical point in the sample prep workflow comes when we move samples from processing to evaporation. This transfer step is where most accidents usually happen, be it mixing up of samples, mislabeling of collection vessels, or even dropping the sample, all of these scenarios are detrimental to analyses providing inaccurate results or no results at all.
Let me give you an example of what I mean and how it applies to eliminating transfer steps and improving data consistency with Extractable Petroleum Hydrocarbons (EPH) fractionation using automation. If you are unfamiliar with EPH, take a look at one of our previous blogs. Here is another one that explains how you can automate your EPH fractionation with the Extrahera®.
What is not mentioned in our previous blog is you can improve your workflow even more, using the TurboVap® EH when using the Extrahera®. The tubes used to collect your eluant from the Extrahera® sit inside a rack that can be taken from the Extrahera® and put directly into the TurboVap® EH. This eliminates a transfer step, and 24 samples can undergo fractionation with the automated and programmed method. Once you have concluded your extraction and are ready for fractionation, the Extrahera® and TurboVap® EH will take care of the rest for you.
Luckily, by excluding manual transfer steps, consistency of overall results is improved. There is also no guessing on how much solvent one analyst used compared to another because the amount of solvent to be used is predetermined by the programmed method. The best part is, when the system is eluting the analytes of interest from let’s say for example, the ISOLUTE® EPH column, it goes directly into a collection vessel that fits into a rack that can be taken from one instrument and put directly onto another with no transfer step required.
There is always uncertainty in the sample preparation lab when steps are manual. With that, it seems most laboratories are headed in the direction of working to reduce or even eliminate manual steps within sample preparation. Elimination of manual steps is a win/win for everyone because the analyst does not need to perform the manual time-consuming steps, but also, the consistency is increased tremendously, and the analyst can either prepare for the next batch or complete those other tasks that get pushed to the side due to lack of time to complete them. Automation for a laboratory setting is a great benefit because it provides consistency, accuracy, and greatly reduces the uncertainty with extractions and fractionation. Each analyst is going to conduct a transfer step, extraction, or fractionation different than the next analyst even if they are following the same procedure. This workflow will allow your lab to complete the same fractionation each time, the exact same way, no matter who is pressing start on the system.
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