HPLC has become a popular analysis technique due to its unlimited range of applications. It is common to come across several HPLC instruments running round the clock in many large analytical laboratories. In such laboratories the number of samples for analysis is so large that even with such a large installed base and trained manpower it becomes increasingly difficult to meet the committed analysis time frames. It therefore becomes essential to consider factors that can help save time.
The first solution that might come to your mind would be to add additional systems and increase the workforce in the laboratory. Such an option may not be viable due to laboratory space constraints and additional burden on financial resources. The article proposes some useful suggestions which can be adopted without putting a strain on the available resources. Time-saving is of equal importance when analyzing samples using other analysis techniques such as gas chromatography, atomic absorption spectroscopy, etc.
You can save your valuable time by adding the auto sampler accessory. Several sample, wash solution and standard solution vials can be kept in the auto sampler in the desired sequence which will give you the freedom for other tasks. Auto samplers permit continuous analysis even for overnight runs without needing your attention.
An hour spent on planning your laboratory activities in advance can help save subsequently several hours of your laboratory time. Advance planning covers several aspects some of which are mentioned below:
- Prioritization of your analysis in advance based on the urgency and release of analysis results.
- Organize samples in groups based on requirement of same mobile phase.
- Ensure availability of required columns, valid working standards, clean volumetric glassware, chemicals, buffers and HPLC grade solvents.
- Sample vials are reusable but these should be cleaned properly and validated for freedom from contamination before use
- Ensure all required instruments such as HPLC, weighing balances, pH meters, etc are calibrated before putting to use
Regular maintenance schedules
Regular maintenance schedules save you from unexpected problems arising during normal operation of systems.
- Replace damaged piston seals, o-rings, pistonrods,check valves, etc on noticing damage as this can prevent unexpected breakdowns.
- Prevent mobile flow interruptions and column blockages by suspended solid impuritiesby regular cleaning of in-line filters and filtration of mobile phase solvents before mixing.
- It is advisable to use recommended guard columns for getting long useful life of HPLC columns
- Periodically remove detector cell and clean the flow path to remove any residual deposits on cell walls. Re- insert and flush the cell with several volumes of water followed by the mobile phase before making sample injections
- After using buffer solutions in mobile phase flush the system with several volumes of clean water. This will remove solid salt deposits which can otherwise leave scratches and damage pump components.
Following these simple steps can prolong the useful instrument lifespan and at same time provide uninterrupted operation thereby saving you valuable time. The system can be subsequently programmed for unattended operation.