Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Quick, Reliable Instrument Performance Verification for Low Volume Dispense Accuracy and Precision

I work in a laboratory environment where many different people use the same instruments for a diversity of microplate applications, often in the course of a single day. It only took one experiment failure for me to decide I needed a quick, reliable way to check all of my equipment before an experiment above and beyond routine instrument validation procedures of the lab.

What I came up with is not an end all solution for making every experiment successful, it doesn’t cover every fluid profile that could perform very differently than the viscosity of the test solution, nor should it be considered a replacement for regularly scheduled instrument maintenance routines, but it certainly assists in spotting potential instrument performance problems before they become expensive failures. I even use these basic dispense accuracy and precision procedures to check the performance of any manual pipettes or other appropriate accessory tools in addition to the automation before starting my laboratory work, and most manufacturers of precision tools would recommend this habit anyway.

I drew from a variety of sources to find the right mix of methods and materials, tweaking what I learned to meet my requirements of being quick and easy without losing reliability. These procedures are designed for low-volume dispense verification applicable to the 1µl, 5µl, and 10µl EL406 and MicroFlo Select cassettes, the EL406 syringe A and B dispense manifolds, and the Precision Power automated dispenser (single and multi-channel). The NanoQuot could be tested the same way using different dye dilutions for under 2µl, but this procedure isn’t geared toward that instrument. A future blog series highlighting my forays into a low volume dispense journey will refer back to these procedures, and highlight a useful application for them that can be adapted to a variety of assay/instrumentation troubleshooting scenarios.

Click here for my version of economical, dependable base line instrument verification for low volume dispensing accuracy and precision. I would be interested in knowing yours.

By, BioTek Instruments

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