A View From the Bench: Why analysts should really care about which chromatography consumables they use

Analysts produce precise and accurate results with well-designed methodologies using high-quality calibrated instrumentation. Data is carefully checked to ensure the correct results are reported. But what about the, often overlooked, lab essentials - consumables?

A Group of Vials and Caps of all different sizes and colours

The quality of vials, caps, tubes, columns, filters, pipette tips etc. is often underappreciated, but is vital for the reliability and reproducibility of your analytical techniques.

Even experienced analytical chemists may be unaware of the potential consequences of switching to low-cost, generic, consumables. Short-term cost savings can significantly impact the integrity and reliability of analytical measurements, resulting in costly repeat analysis. Here are 5 key reasons why:

1. The unpredictable world of variability: Chromatography isn't just about separating compounds; it's about precision and accuracy. Lower cost generic consumables might seem worth considering, but they often introduce an element of variability. Inconsistencies in column packing, irregularities in vial surfaces, or differences in membrane materials can all lead to variations in results.

2. Reliability at risk: The reliability of analytical measurements depends on the stability and consistency of consumables. Switching to generics, without comparison and validation, could compromise the reliability of data. Inaccurate peaks, altered retention times, or unexpected shifts in separation patterns - these deviations could lead to misinterpretation or false conclusions, undermining analytical credibility.

3. Uncertainties creeping in: Each change in consumables introduces an element of uncertainty, potentially compromising results by widening the margins of error. Increased uncertainty means less confidence in interpreting results and the validity of data, especially in regulated laboratories but also in research settings.

4. The hidden costs of quality: While generic consumables might offer immediate cost savings, the hidden costs can outweigh the benefits. Repeated analyses with delays in reporting results, troubleshooting unexpected issues, or potential instrument damage due to poor-quality consumables—these hidden expenses can quickly negate any initial savings.

5. The quest for consistency: Consistency is vital in chromatography for reproducible results. High-quality validated consumables ensure that analysis can be replicated with minimal batch-to-batch variations. Consistency strengthens the foundations for all scientific work.

Syringe Filters Scattered on a White Background
How important are analysts’ roles in the selection of key consumables?

Analysts should play a pivotal role in the selection of all key consumables. Their first-hand experience, expertise, and understanding of the intricacies of analytical techniques uniquely position them to make informed decisions that directly impact the quality and reliability of their analyses.

All the increased uncertainties of measurement should be considered when contemplating the shift to low-cost generics. While cost considerations are essential, any potential compromise on analytical integrity due to generic consumables is a risk not worth taking.

Summary and conclusions

Laboratories today recognise that investment in instrumentation which delivers on the very highest level of sensitivity and readability has become essential. Investment harnesses the full potential of their skilled analysts, delivers on agreed analytical metrics, and ensures the accuracy and reliability of their results. In this increasingly demanding industry, why make the investment in instrumentation, and skilled analysts and then compromise data with low quality consumables?

With over 50 years' experience working in an industry where the demands of analytical performance and regulatory compliance have never been more important, ESSLAB, your partner in science, will always place quality and value for money first in our support of delivering credible analytical data.

Shop our range of Chromatography Consumables online, or get in touch with our technical specialists to find out more, or for free samples for evaluation.

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