Is Your Automated Liquid Handler Working for Your Assays?

Uncovering Errors, Understanding Device Behavior, and Optimizing Methods


The focus of this presentation is to highlight the need of ensuring quality in important assays performed with automated liquid handlers. Nearly all assays performed within a laboratory are volume-dependent. In turn, all concentrations of biological and chemical components in these assays, as well as the associated dilution protocols, are volume-dependent. Because analyte concentration is volume-dependent, an assay’s results might be falsely interpreted if liquid handler variability and inaccuracies are unknown or if the system(s) go unchecked for a long period.

Measuring and knowing the exact volumes transferred, for specific and/or routine methods, will inherently lead to confidence in the experiment, i.e., the results can be trusted. This presentation highlights the importance of monitoring, evaluating, and optimizing liquid handler performance so operators can get the most out of their liquid handlers and the associated assays. To understand and assess liquid handler performance in each case demonstrated herein, a standardized volume verification method was employed by utilizing the Artel MVS Multichannel Verification System.

For instance, it is presented how the liquid handling steps were measured, diagnosed, understood, and/or optimized for: (1) on-board mixing efficiency; (2) finding a bad “tip-in-the-box”; (3) highlighting the differences between accuracy and precision; (4) comparing individual volume transfers over multi-sequential dispenses; (5) optimizing an automated method for a specific target volume; and (6) directly comparing performance between liquid handlers from multiple locations.

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