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Tips and Tricks for Lab Efficiency Volume 3

Welcome to the third edition of Tips and Tricks for Lab Efficiency. After this one, we will take a brief pause while we collect more to share with you.

About half of everything we do is simple habit, so taking time out to carefully consider what we are doing and why we are doing it, is time well spent. Hopefully one or two of these ideas have resonated, and at the very least, made you think critically about why your lab does things the way it does them.

So without further ado, the season finale of T&T4LE.

Kathy Ridgeway, Senior Applications Chemist

Start off with a standard set up

When developing a new analytical method, using a standardised set up if at all possible. This will mean you don’t have to mess about changing hardware or installing different columns whenever you need to swap to a different analytical method. This makes it quick and easy to change from one method to another, eliminates large chunks of instrument down time and is a real boost to your productivity for the long term.

For sample preparation, a multifunctional sample preparation system can do a number of different sample preparation protocols, this means multiple methods can be run on one system without changing the hardware. Just load your samples and methods, and let the system do the rest. No need to reconfigure between projects.

Use Magnetic Labels.

Use a magnetic label to show instrument specific information (Instrument name, which liners, columns and methods it is using, due-date of next service etc.). You can write or edit the information neatly with the label flat on the bench before putting the label in place, showing the information clearly on the front of the instrument. This saves unnecessary faff in the lab. Who doesn’t hate faff?

Bonus tip: Buy a large pack of marker pens. They cost next to nothing and buying lots means you’ll never have to look far to find one when you need it.

Sean O’Connor – Account Manager

Buy cheap, buy twice

Don’t just blindly buy the cheapest. Find a good supplier and stick with them.

In my experience, any immediate savings are often lost in the long term through missed deadlines, short shelf life and, when things inevitably go wrong, longer than necessary downtime due to poor quality service.

Develop methods for tomorrow.

Develop methods that go beyond the immediate needs of today i.e. don’t hit the regulation today aim for where you think it will be in 5 years as this will actually reduce the amount of method development required.

Bonus tip: Review your methods and the available technologies regularly, don’t stick to a method because you have always done it that way. You could be wasting hours of lab time.

Julian Chan, Service Manager

Get serious with silly names

An oldie but a goodie. I’ve done PMs on Basil Fawlty, Walter White and Ned Flanders while managing to easily avoid accidentally servicing Maud, Sybil or Skyler. For more information on why this matters, click through to this old blog post: The Serious Benefits of Giving Instruments Silly Names 

Ray Perkins, Anatune’s Founder

Are you running your GC-MS lab at the optimum temperature?

When your lab was full of people, you had to set the ambient temperature to suit your staff. If your team are now mostly working remotely, you are free to set the temperature to suit your instruments. This may well be cooler than is comfortable for humans. Why would that be?

In a cold lab, your GC-MSs will cool down more quickly and you should be able to get a few more samples run each day – and that will add up to a significant gain over the weeks and months. This will work especially well if you are analyzing for volatiles, and your GC start temperature needs to be close to ambient.

If you have any neat tips and tricks to share, reply to this email and we will include good ones in the next edition.

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