It has been said that time is money. In the world of life science research, whether at a research university, in pharmaceutical drug discovery operations or in high-throughput screening labs, that phrase can be amended to say down time is money. With regard to today’s automated liquid handlers, keeping them online and operating precisely is the name of the game. As researchers continue to find ways to use liquid reagents in their assays in lower volumes, which are more challenging to dispense, it is doubly important to verify the performance of liquid handling instrumentation to ensure data integrity.
Tecan US, a regional organization of Tecan, a world leader in automated liquid handling systems and services for the life science industry, understands this implicitly. The company’s Te-Care™ service program offered to customers is designed to provide optimal reliability, productivity, and precision of installed Tecan systems. With so much attention paid to ensuring the quality of its platforms over their lifetimes, Artel’s technology was a strong fit for verifying Tecan’s automated liquid handling systems.
By using the Artel MVS® Multichannel Verification System as an option in the Te-Care service program, Tecan US can quickly verify the precision of each dispensing tip of its automated liquid handlers with traceable, standardized measurement data. This leaves customers with complete confidence in the performance of their equipment.
Choosing to roll the MVS into its Tecan US life science service program was an easy decision, according to James O’Brien, Service Manager, Americas, for Tecan US. “For our customers, a major benefit is that they have access to Artel’s world-class technology,” said O’Brien. He noted that in automated liquid handling and pipette performance verification circles, Artel has become the Coca-Cola of that market segment—the most recognized and respected name in the industry.
Tecan US takes pride in the strength of its service organization and its ability to provide solutions that meet the requirements of its customers. As part of its Te-Care™ service program, Tecan supplies services that support the installation and operation qualification of platforms as well as routine scheduled maintenance and service, of which the precision verification executed with the Artel system is an option. This verification allows customers in the life science market to meet their specific requirements saving them time and internal resources.
The MVS fits seamlessly within the support program of Tecan US for a number of reasons, including its ability to verify precision of Liquid Handling and Multichannel pipetting arms within Tecan’s manufacturing specifications; its applicability to automated liquid handling systems ranging from one to 96 dispensing tips; and its ability to generate measurement data on a tip-by-tip basis. Also, because the MVS is easy to use and performs volume measurements in minutes, it has helped Tecan US improve the efficiency of its service offering.
Most importantly, the MVS provides measurement results that are traceable to NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). This means that the data derived from one lab using the MVS can be compared with the data from another lab also employing the MVS to ensure liquid handling consistency across locations. The MVS is, in effect, a stable, unchanging yardstick – a standard that can be employed at labs across Tecan US’s life sciences customer base.
“Our customers want the MVS because they want NIST traceability,” noted O’Brien. “We emphasize for our customers our relationship with Artel, as both Artel and Tecan are market leaders, both with a focus on quality.”
In choosing to adopt the MVS for its service program, Tecan US has chosen a leading-edge technology for automated liquid handling performance verification. Without the MVS, verification of liquid handling performance would likely be conducted using other dye-based methods or gravimetric technologies.
Compared with other dye-based verification methods, the MVS is a speedier, more robust, testing method. All of the MVS dyes are provided at specific, verified, and stable concentrations, and have none of the variability that is characteristic of “homebrewed” dyes.
Gravimetric technologies also present challenges. Since balances – especially those designed to measure low volumes, are delicate instruments, shipping them to client sites for in-the-lab verification is not practical on a large scale. Also, balances can be easily thrown off by environmental perturbations. In addition, using a balance for verification for multichannel devices would only yield gross data for the entire 96-well plate. The MVS not only verifies on a plate-by-plate basis (as would a balance), but also captures performance data well-by-well and tip-by-tip, allowing technicians to quickly and easily pinpoint performance issues and allow them to move directly to problem solving.
In short, the MVS is a complete solution that allows Tecan US to perform more efficient verifications with data traceability and minimal downtime for its customers. The MVS includes a number of different components including a plate reader, plate shaker, verification plates and calibrator plates (for NIST traceability). The barcode reader allows easy scanning of component tracking information, which is then relayed to the system software.
For Tecan US, the MVS hits all the high points it required for a liquid handling verification service offering: NIST traceability, portability, ease of use, robustness to withstand shipping to customer locations—all with the backing and reputation of Artel.
“We fully expect, by utilizing the Artel MVS technology, that we will expand our service program and provide a superior level of service and support to our customers,” O’Brien said.
Tecan (www.tecan.com) is a leading global provider of laboratory instruments and solutions in biopharmaceuticals, forensics and clinical diagnostics. The company specializes in the development, production and distribution of automated workflow solutions for laboratories in the life sciences sector. Its clients include pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, university research departments, forensic and diagnostic laboratories. As an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), Tecan is also a leader in developing and manufacturing OEM instruments and components that are then distributed by partner companies. Founded in Switzerland in 1980, the company has manufacturing, research and development sites in both Europe and North America and maintains a sales and service network in 52 countries.