5 Key Elements to Look for in a Liquid Handling Platform

Batch handling of assays is no longer just the purview of industrial discovery labs. Advances in technology now enable any laboratory supervisor to establish a comprehensive and precise liquid handling platform to compete with larger operations. Your current workflows may dictate what system you need, but today's liquid handling solutions are versatile and come with benefits that reduce human error, allow for walkaway operations, and increases your throughput.

When vetting a new liquid handling platform, you'll want to match the system with your workflow and increase efficiencies wherever possible. Automations, integrations, and control methods should also factor into your decision. With increased demand, you can now find automated systems that assist with sample preparation, cell-based assays, DNA extraction, and ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays).

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Liquid Handling Platform

Before you start shopping for a new liquid handling platform, it's vital that you also review your current workflows. Without an efficient laboratory process in place, it's likely that new instruments won't help you to produce better results.

To start, you'll need to breakdown your entire workflow into individual steps and review your current procedures. Once you have a complete breakdown, you can match specific capabilities from modern liquid handling platforms or instruments to your exact needs. Taking this approach will help you clarify your requirements and ensure you can find a solution that helps maintain your workflows' accuracy.

Below we'll cover five of the key elements you need to consider when choosing a liquid handling platform.

1. Are You Currently Using an Efficient Process in Your Lab?

Each step in your current workflow affects the quality of your results. The way you are managing your assays should factor into the technology selection process. When adopting an automated liquid handling system in your workflow, you'll probably need to update specific processes to match the new technology you want to use.

Remember that automating a deficient process will not instantly improve your results. Consider all elements in your workflow like how you handle samples, what information management systems you already have in place, and the level of training of your staff. One example of an information management system that can help improve your efficiency and results is SciNote, a top-rated Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN). SciNote gives you a digital space to store and access protocols, results, and tracking, all in one place.

Once you have an understanding of where and how you can improve, you can start planning for the required changes using a new liquid handling platform.

2. What Kind of Walkaway Liquid Handling and Automation Do You Need?

The ideal liquid handling system will allow you to set up the workflows and then start the process before walking away and leaving the platform to do its work. It allows you to save time and helps reduce errors from human oversight or intervention.

Sample preparation is one of the most labor-intensive processes in laboratories, which you could streamline using an automated liquid handling system. To increase your overall throughput, walkaway systems that integrate with upstream and downstream processes can help maximize yield and deliver repeatable results every time.

A Proven Leader in Liquid Handling Systems

Gilson liquid handling tools deliver the precise control you need for sample and reagent volume transfers, ensuring reproducible results, while making life in the lab easier. From manual pipetting to fully automated systems, our liquid handling tools have evolved through the years with your needs.

3. Where Can Your Liquid Handling Platform Add Value?

Increasing throughput is usually the first reason lab supervisors consider upgrading their equipment and instrument platforms. While it may be an important consideration in your assessment, you should also consider the platform's added value to provide your lab. If you have an effective process in place, it's easy to select a system that just handles all of your current requirements.

Instead, try to keep the future in mind and evaluate available technologies to see how the system could enhance other assays you may want to execute over the coming years. Once you choose a system, it's important to ensure it helps free up your researchers or technicians from routine work, reduces human error, and increases your workflow's traceability. Additional considerations include the repeatability and precision of the overall system with your current procedures, but you'll also want it to be able to adapt to changes in the future.

4. Can the Liquid Handling Platform Support Your Human Resources?

Although most workflows still depend on human resources, in times of increased demand, this could lead to an increase in errors. Even if you've spent years training your staff in specific methods, exhaustion and fatigue are still the lab technician's worst enemies. As you'll need to train and support your resources in a new system, you should consider elements like ergonomics and ease of use in your selection.

Getting your lab resources up and running quickly while limiting disruptions are major factors to include in your assessment. You'll also need to vet the supplier to ensure they can provide dedicated technical support while you transition to a new liquid handling platform. A solution that provides you with extensibility, adaptability, and versatility but is also easy to use would be ideal.

5. How Much Space Do You Have Available?

Finally, modern liquid handling systems shouldn't take up a lot of space in your laboratory. If you already struggle with finding a spot for new instruments, choosing a platform that doesn't fit on a bench would defeat the purpose. When you set up a liquid handling platform, you'll probably want to use it every day for all your assays.

Consider the footprint of your platform compared to the available throughput it offers. The software used, the consumables required, and the overall physical footprint (not to mention the price) should carry a specific weight when deciding which liquid handling platform is right for your lab or research.

Consider PIPETMAX® for Your Liquid Handling Workflows

For every kind of assay that needs an automated solution, PIPETMAX is a bench-sized liquid handling system that helps increase your throughput without compromising your accuracy. The automated platform is based on PIPETMAN® technology, giving you maximum convenience in a small footprint and remains customizable to fit your specific needs.

Volume ranges from 1 µL to 1200 µL give you the kind of capacities required, and you can use up to eight pipette tips simultaneously. With this versatile system, you can configure your PIPETMAX platform to work with any kind of reagent, protocol, or kit. If you have a custom liquid handling process, you can customize the system by writing your own protocols or download any of the several pre-developed and validated ones from Gilson.

To find out more about Gilson's liquid handling platforms and integrated technologies, speak to one of our experts today