HPLC has become a major analytical tool for basic research and industrial laboratories. Its significance is evident from the number of HPLC units one can find in modern laboratories. In some laboratories complete sections consisting of several HPLC systems are devoted to HPLC analysis .In spite of the large number of systems and dedicated manpower such laboratories work round-the-clock but even then are able to barely meet their heavy workloads.
The obvious solution that comes to mind is to increase the number of systems and manpower. Unfortunately such an option requires substantial financial inputs. Such solutions are often not acceptable to laboratory managements due to cash deficits. Alternately effective utilization of available resources seems to be the best solution.
The objective of this article is to offer some suggestions that will help you effectively utilize your available resources to maximum benefit.
Manpower is your most important asset – even more important than your infrastructure facilities including highly sophisticated analytical instruments. Investment made on developing your manpower pays rich dividends. Regular training and skills upgradation is the need of the day. Provide structured training on HPLC operational aspects, advances in column technologies, method development and related practical skills.
It goes without saying that advance planning of daily work schedule plays a crucial role in meeting your targets and conversely lack of planning can result in catastrophic disasters.
- Group samples requiring same mobile phase together so as to save time.
- As far as possible adopt automated sampling to save time and achieve high precision of results
- Keep required columns ready in advance and the columns that are in routine use should be kept washed
- Required standards should be available and checked for their validity
- Vials can be re-used but should be validated for freedom from contamination of earlier analysis
- Organize the required columns, volumetric glassware, chemicals, solvents and standards well in advance
- Use only calibrated HPLC and other laboratory instruments such as weighing balances and pH meters
The importance of need for following regular preventive maintenance schedule cannot be overlooked .It saves a lot of time and assures freedom from frustrations during operation.
- Maintain an inventory of essential spares such as seals, check valves, O-rings, Pistons and replace them periodically or even when the first signs of damage are noticed
- Regularly clean mobile phase in-line filters so as to avoid problems due to interrupted flow of mobile phases
- Use of guard columns will prolong useful life of HPLC columns
- Periodically clean detector cell off-line and subsequently flush on-line with several volumes of water followed by mobile phase to be used.