All posts by Tim Hawkins

Bench to Bedside: Advances in Next-Generation Mass Spectrometry

Changing IdeasIf you’re a seasoned reader of this blog, you know we get excited about the many ways mass spectrometry continues to revolutionize both scientific research and practical applications. Last October, distinguished experts in various scientific fields gathered in Chicago to talk about the next generation of clinical mass spectrometry and the future of precision medicine. In this post, we salute these dedicated researchers that we trust, in part, are using dedicated lab furniture like ours to keep their mass specs working quietly and efficiently on all their ground-breaking projects,

Touting Next-Generation Mass Spectrometry at AACC

The Chicago gathering was the American Association for Clinical Chemistry’s fifth annual Mass Spectrometry and Separation Sciences for Laboratory Medicine Conference. Each of the eminent speakers opened a window into their own lab’s work in pioneering clinical mass spectrometry. From various omics biomarkers to toxicology, drug dosing, and tissue imaging, next-generation lab research is making a difference in a variety of fields. Here is what some of the distinguished speakers had to say.

Newborn Metabolic Screening

Michael Bennett, PhD, is professor of pathology at the University of Pennsylvania and also directs The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s clinical chemistry and metabolic disease laboratory. In his presentation, he outlined how mass spectrometry is being used to assess for metabolic disorders in newborn screenings. His team is also profiling organic acids to diagnose a variety of metabolic disorders, especially where secondary xenobiotics have complicated assessments in the past.

Tackling Toxicology Testing

Hans Maurer, PhD, is head of the department of experimental and clinical toxicology and a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Saarland University in Germany. He opened the conference and set the tone with results of his lab’s toxicology innovations using high-resolution mass spectrometry.

Orbitrap and time-of-flight technologies are bringing greater mass detection accuracy to various drug assessment procedures, including screening, metabolism studies, quantitation and monitoring. All this can be done with shorter prep times and smaller samples, easing MS optimization and providing higher selectivity and sensitivity.

Innovative Tissue Imaging

Richard Caprioli, PhD, is director of the Mass Spectrometry Research Center and holds the Stanford Moore Chair in Biochemistry at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He and his colleagues have used an advanced pixel array to illuminate tissue biopsies and laser ablation images at single mass-to-charge values.

This MS technique can be used with single cells or entire research animal sections, and results have already been gleaned with diabetic renal glomerulus, histology-directed analysis using frozen and paraffin-embedded tissues, and diagnosis of malignant melanoma.

Biomarker Advances

Of course, how quickly these exciting next-generation advances take hold is dependent on lab researchers’ capacity to translate emerging biomarkers from bench to bedside. Yan Victoria Zhang, PhD, director of the clinical mass spectrometry and toxicology lab and associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Rochester in New York, discussed this in greater detail.

She shared some of the challenges labs are facing in this field, including human proteome complexity, a dearth of coherent research pipelines, and the need for sample collection standardization. But work is underway, with MS specialists using MALDI and electro-spray platforms to produce integral contributions.

Innovative Dedicated Lab Furniture for Pioneering Lab Work

We are confident that with the help of both mass specs and the dedicated lab furniture on which they stand, there are no limits to the problems mass spectrometry can solve. To learn how our dedicated lab furniture can help your lab get the most out of its MS, contact us today.


Ventilation Safety Recommendations for Your Lab Design

FanGood laboratory design is not just about efficient workstation layouts, component placements, and emergency exits. Dedicated lab furniture, storage units, and other components must be carefully and mindfully placed to avoid tripping hazards and other lab safety issues.

But that’s not all. Ventilation is a key lab safety factor that must be considered also in any lab design. Every lab must include the ability to safely remove contaminated air and circulate sufficiently cooled or heated air to prevent unwanted spontaneous reactions or overheated equipment.

Here are some considerations for incorporating safety cabinets, fume hoods, and canopy hoods into your new lab design or renovation project.

Biological Safety Cabinets

A biological containment system is only effective if airflow around the cabinet remains within spec during use. Thus, every biological safety cabinet must be installed and tested appropriately to ascertain sufficient airflow. OSHA states that biological safety cabinets must be certified each year—but also every time they are moved.

This means that if your renovated lab design entails rearranging equipment, you will need to be certain there is sufficient airflow in the new location, and also have the cabinet re-tested after the new setup is complete.

Unlike mass spectrometers, which can easily be moved around the lab on dedicated lab furniture with casters, your biological safety cabinet needs to remain where it is installed. Otherwise, it will need to be recertified every time a move occurs.

Chemical Fume Hoods

Fume hoods provide the primary control for protecting lab techs who work with flammable or toxic chemicals. This means that they hold a primary place in any lab safety process. As with biological safety cabinets, OSHA requires that chemical fume hoods provide sufficient airflow throughout any lab procedure.

When creating any new lab design, care must be taken to ensure that nothing will block the airflow through the baffles or baffle exhaust slots. Sufficient safe storage for all chemicals must also be located nearby, so that technicians are not tempted to store chemicals within the fume hood, which is also against OSHA regulations. Including a backup power generator for each fume hood is also recommended to prevent accidental loss of airflow during any power failure.

Canopy Hoods

It is important for any lab designer to remember the difference between fume hoods and canopy hoods. Canopy hoods are only intended to vent heat in general, or for specific processes, such as autoclaves.

While industrial-level ventilation may not be necessary, canopy hoods must still vent air outside the lab workspace, and preferably outside the building completely. Canopy hoods are also not meant to be used for personal workstations, so an adequate lab design must allow for this.

Lab Safety Knowhow for You

To learn more about the ventilation and electrical needs of today’s working labs, or to find out how dedicated lab furniture—including our customizable lab benches for mass spectrometry—can increase the safety and efficiency of your lab, reach out to talk with us today.


Keeping Up with Mass Spectrometry Innovation: A Buyer’s Guide

ChoiceInnovation is always the name of the game, isn’t it? The inventors of mass spectrometry would have a hard time recognizing today’s mass specs and the dedicated lab furniture that keeps these modern marvels running most efficiently. The types of MS units available are almost as varied as their uses.

Let’s cut through some of the clutter by focusing on some of the latest mass specs to hit the market and connect you with further information on the top manufacturers of these marvels of innovation.


This company’s Lipidyzer allows any lab to perform advanced lipidomics with ease. Its one-stop benchtop platform accurately and quickly quantifies over a thousand lipid species. Specifically designed software assists with species identification and biological interpretation. The platform also utilizes cloud-based data sharing with access to mass spectrometry specialists.

Thermo Fisher Scientific

For assistance in screening a broad range of complex compounds, the Q Exactive™ Hybrid Quadrupole-Orbitrap mass spectrometer is your choice. Eliminate isobaric interferences with a resolving power of up to 140,000 FWHM. Fast scan at 12hz for UHPLC applications. Detect singly charged small molecules with extended mass range of 6,000m/z. A variety of additional features make this MS suitable for multiple applications ranging from toxicology and food safety to drug discovery and proteomics.

Two New Mass Spectrometry Solutions from Shimadzu

Shimadzu’s GCMS-TQ8040 combines three proprietary processes in its triple quadrupole MS. Smart Productivity firmware assesses as many as 32,768 transitions in a single analysis. Smart Operation software automatically sets analytical conditions for painless method development. Smart Performance utilizes an extremely efficient ion source and collision cell for low detection limits, while the analysis mode provides both accurate low-level quantitative data and high-quality searchable fragmentation spectra within just one analysis.

And Shimadzu’s LCMS-8060 transforms tandem MS speed with a machine that is durable as well as extremely sensitive. This workhorse would be at home on any modern piece of dedicated lab furniture.

Three New Mass Specs from Waters

Our last group of new lab marvels comes from Waters. For the pharmaceutical research and development lab, choose the Biopharmaceutical Platform Solution with UNIFI. LC and MS characterization data can be comprehensively and routinely acquired, processed, and reported for every step in a biotherapeutic’s development lifecycle. Optical-detection UNIFI and UPLC bioseparations provide a foundation, while you can leverage MS to fully annotate your peptide map by using their patented technology to obtain exact mass precursor and fragment ion information.

To save time and money in your lab, Waters has now introduced mass spectrometry that needs no chromatography or sample preparation. The REIMS Research System with iKnife Sampling accurately generates a mass spec profile in just a few seconds. Detailed molecular information is generated by absorbing information-rich vapor directly from the sample’s surface with the hand-held iKnife sampling device. Like the once-ingenious computer mouse with its long tail, the iKnife utilizes a long, flexible connection between mass spec and sampler, allowing researchers freedom of movement around the lab.

If you want a complete package, go with the Waters Vion IMS QTof Mass Spectrometer, which integrates ion mobility with their innovative iKnife system. This benchtop platform—which can fit handily on one of our custom pieces of dedicated lab furniture—uses ion mobility to clarify every spectrum, simplifying data interpretation. This system allows for greater selectivity than a traditional tandem system.

Dedicated Lab Furniture for Every MS Need

In addition to the latest MS advances discussed above, there are of course a number of manufacturers:

There are so many MS suppliers today and a variety of different types, sizes, and shapes of mass specs on the market, each tailored to meet the needs of particular labs and their tasks. Because we customize our dedicated lab furniture, we can provide a suitable and safe lab bench for any mass spectrometry device your lab uses. To learn more, contact us today.

Meet with Us at HPLC 2016 in San Francisco, June 21-24.

HPLCHPLC 2016, the 44th international symposium on high performance liquid phase separations and related techniques is coming up, and IonBench will be there. Come see us at booth 513 in the exhibition area to learn about how the IonBench line of dedicated lab furniture can protect your mass spec, your ears, and your lab work efficiency. So if you plan on attending the conference June 19th through the 24th, at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco (Exhibition Hall dates are June 21st through the 24th), we look forward to meeting you!

Incorporating Storage Safety Recommendations into Your Lab Design

StorageWhile every lab is different, labs in general have a number of common elements that factor into safety. Every laboratory design must incorporate assessments of the procedures expected to take place, the lab safety of the researchers and technicians conducting those procedures, and the types and volumes of hazardous materials they will be using.

But you don’t just need to consider lab technicians’ safety as they’re working with hazardous materials—you also need to plan in the lab design stage for how they’ll safely store those materials when they’re not working with them.

Secure Shelving Requirements

Some storage requirements are fairly straightforward. When storing any chemicals or other hazardous materials on open shelving, it’s important to purchase dedicated lab furniture shelving that includes edge guards.

These edge guards should measure between 1/2 and 3/4 of an inch in height and should run around all four sides of the shelf. Whether the shelf units are out in the open for easy access or tucked away in a well-ventilated storage closet, the edge guards should prevent any containers from spilling onto other hazardous materials or nearby equipment or personnel.

Corralling Corrosive and Flammable Materials with Dedicated Lab Furniture

When it comes to hazardous liquids, specialized storage cabinets are required, and you must integrate space for them into your lab design. The National Fire Protection Association and Underwriters Laboratories have approved certain types of dedicated lab furniture for both flammable and corrosive liquids. Specially designed storage cabinets must be resistant to fire and corrosion, and acids must be stored separately from bases.

Cylinders holding compressed gas must be securely attached to a stable structure, using non-combustible metal chains or similar materials. You should avoid anything that could burn in a fire, such as cloth or leather straps. This is why it’s critical to understand exactly what types of procedures will take place in research labs and incorporate sufficient cabinets and supportive storage spaces and anchors into each new lab design.

Implementing Signage in Your Lab Design

Along with using appropriate dedicated lab furniture for safe storage, each shelf unit or cabinet will need to be labeled with the correct signage. All cabinets that will hold flammable liquids must have a sign saying FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS. Cabinets or shelving that will hold acids must have an ACIDS sign. Cabinets containing alkaline liquids must be labeled BASES or ALKALIS. Finally, all strong oxidizers must be identified with a sign saying OXIDIZERS.

There is more to these signage requirements than a simple organizational strategy. Separating hazardous materials lessens the likelihood of accidental, and potentially dangerous, chemical reactions. The signs also provide tired lab assistants with an additional visual reminder not to store hazardous materials in the wrong place.

Increase the Safety of Your Lab

Naturally, we are strong advocates for using the right types of dedicated lab furniture in every laboratory design. Whether you’re planning space for hazardous materials cabinets or mobile mass spectrometry lab benches, using specially designed and dedicated lab furniture will always contribute to increased lab safety. To learn more about the advantages of our space-saving, movable mass spectrometry or HPLC benches, contact us today.



Mass Spectrometry: Ending the Baseball Steroid Era?

?????????????????????????????????????????????Spring is in full swing and the crack of the bat can be heard in baseball fields around the country. As the country’s attention once again turns to the “boys of summer,” we thought it would be a good time to reflect on the continued growth in the number and types of uses being found for the faithful—and increasingly sophisticated—mass spectrometry machines. You see, catching cheating players at their underground steroid game can go a long way toward bringing back confidence in America’s favorite pastime. It can also prove, once again, that the mass spectrometer is a jack-of-all-trades, with unlimited potential in improving the quality of our lives.

Stopping the Steroid Game

As any baseball fan knows, keeping steroids out of the game has become a major issue for Major League Baseball. It sometimes seems that the possibly offending baseball players are always one step ahead of the drug testing protocols. However, the latest improvements in anabolic steroid testing may even out the race and potentially put an end to the “Steroid Era.” Researchers at both Purdue University and Beijing’s Tsinghua University are using tandem mass specs for reactive desorption electrospray ionization.

The breakthrough is occurring on multiple levels: speed, diversity and sample size. This new protocol can test one sample per second, allowing research labs to keep pace with any testing procedure. That one-second test can also identify a full seven different types of steroids, widening the “strike zone” for catching cheating players. And finally, only a single drop of urine is needed to perform these tests.

Mass Spectrometry Advances That Are Under the Radar

Of course, catching dishonest superstar athletes will make headlines. But there are other excellent mass spectrometry uses being developed and refined as well. Here are a couple more impressive things biology researchers are doing with mass specs these days:

– HIV Research: With mass spectrometry, increasingly larger molecules are being completely analyzed today, including proteins, carbohydrates and nucleic acids. Recently, virologists were able to use mass spectrometry to increase their understanding of how the human immunodeficiency virus goes about assembling itself once it has invaded a host cell. We expect that this understanding will be an important step in determining how to prevent the virus from taking over cells in the future.

– Monitoring Anesthesiology: One of the many bodily functions that must be monitored during surgery is the respiratory quotient. Calculating the volume of carbon dioxide produced, divided by the volume of oxygen consumed, allows anesthesiologists to determine whether patients are getting sufficient oxygen—and eliminating enough carbon dioxide—during surgical procedures. Mass spectrometers can measure the metabolic gas exchange taking place in patients undergoing surgery, allowing oxygen flow to be adjusted with confidence.

Dedicated Lab Furniture for a Better Workplace

These are just a handful of the exciting developments happening in mass spectrometry. We’d love to highlight what your lab is doing, if you want to let us know. Meanwhile, keep your mass specs working smoothly and your lab conversations at a reasonable volume by investing in our dedicated lab furniture, which muffles MS vacuum pump sounds by a full 75 percent. That way, in addition to enhancing your lab’s safety and efficiency, you won’t have any trouble listening to this summer’s baseball games if your workload keeps you in the lab for a few extra hours.


Lab Safety: Does Your Lab need to Install Noise Warning Signs

Hazardous Materials SignNoise is never good in a laboratory. We’ve discussed on numerous occasions the damage noise can do to hearing and the lab safety concerns brought about by not being able to hear what co-workers are saying. Fortunately, with dedicated lab furniture like the IonBench MS keeping vacuum pump noise at bay, and other noise reducing techniques, lab noise isn’t often above danger levels. But every rule has an exception. When workplace noise exceeds certain levels, warning signs are required to alert workers and visitors of the risks they face and remind the use of safety equipment. Here’s a primer on when signs are needed and what they should say.

When Are Lab Noise Warning Signs Necessary?

Again, severe noise levels aren’t usually encountered in the research lab, and it would be wasteful, and potentially detrimental to your safety efforts, if you were to post signs when you didn’t need them. However, labs are constantly changing, and it’s important to monitor the level of additional noise that’s brought into your lab by each new piece of dedicated lab furniture or equipment—for instance, a fume hood.

OSHA requires posting signs when workers in your lab could potentially encounter sustained noise at the level of 85 dBA or more. As we’ve noted in previous posts, “dBA” stands for a weighted-average decibel level; you can learn more about decibels here.

What Type of Lab Safety Sign Do You Need?

Once you’ve determined your lab or other workplace environment is loud enough to merit the installation of signs, there are two types of signs to consider. A “Caution” sign is required by OSHA for noise levels of 85-100 dBA, while a “Danger” sign is required for noise levels of over 100 dBA. Furthermore, noise exposure above 103 dBA requires a sign that demands double hearing protection.

But you can’t just write “CAUTION” on a large piece of paper, tape it to the wall above the offending machine, and call it good. Both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) specify particular colors and symbols that are needed for each lab safety sign, according to ANSI standard Z535.1.

The Caution sign must use a yellow background. The word CAUTION can either be in black letters or be yellow against an inverted black outline, while the explanatory words below are in black on a yellow or white background. Also, the sign must list the reason for caution; in this case, “hearing protection required.”

A Danger sign, on the other hand, must say DANGER using red, white, and black, and must state the reason for the danger, like: “High noise area, ear protection must be worn.”

Where Must the Sign Be Placed?

These signs should not be posted above the machines making the noise. The reasoning here is that by the time a worker sees a sign, their ears are already being damaged.

Instead, all signs must be posted outside the entrance of the lab or workplace where the noise exposure could occur. They can be on the door, or on the periphery of the door, but they should be visible at the entrance, before the door is opened and the noise exposure begins.

Reducing Noise with Dedicated Lab Furniture

No question, lab safety is a complex, dynamic undertaking—especially when dealing with noise—but protecting the ears of all lab workers is worth it. That’s why we suggest you invest in our dedicated lab furniture, which reduces MS vacuum pump decibels by 75%. Request a quote today to learn more.



Lab Design Tips that will Save You Energy and Money

HVACWhether you’re retrofitting an existing lab or constructing a new laboratory building, there are a number of elements which must be considered in every laboratory design project. One of these is how much energy the lab will consume, and what can be done to keep costs down without jeopardizing the work being done. Here are some energy-saving lab design tips that can impact the bottom line while allowing any lab to perform perfectly.

Getting a Lab Design Handle on HVAC

By far the most expensive energy guzzler in most labs is the HVAC system. In any lab design, the heating/ventilation/air conditioning system must provide comfortable, clean air to every room in the building at all times. This can mean completely changing out all the air in the entire facility as much as twelve times per hour—as opposed to the standard four times per hour of a more typical office building.

Naturally, doing this takes a lot of energy, but there are ways to decrease the cost. Most lab HVAC systems can be programmed for different volumes at different times, so if your lab doesn’t operate on a 24/7 schedule, you can decrease the air cycling rates when the building is unoccupied. More sophisticated HVAC systems can also perform real-time air quality testing, which allows the system’s computer to increase rates when air contaminants are present and decrease them when the air is testing clean.

Preventing all that Conditioned Air from Escaping

Another energy culprit in many labs is the fume hood. Because this piece of dedicated lab equipment vents air to the outdoors, it also whisks away that carefully cleaned and cooled (or heated) air from the HVAC system. Fume hoods themselves also take energy to operate—as much as three residential home energy systems, in fact. You can therefore save energy on both your HVAC system and your fume hood by training lab workers to always close the sash when the fume hood is not in use.

Factoring in the Human Element

As noted above, tackling energy savings is often related to addressing the attitudes and practices of lab technicians. For example, you can save up to thirty percent on the energy bill for your ultra-low temperature freezer by upping the thermostat by just ten degrees, but you may first have to address your researchers’ fears of sample damage. Teaching techs to use task lighting, and to turn out the lights at the end of the day, may seem insignificant, but it can reap major rewards when the energy bill arrives each month.

It’s also true that you often have to invest in your energy savings up-front, during the laboratory design process. When considering the cost of a lab design or retrofit, you may need to advocate for a more expensive, air-monitoring HVAC system in order to save energy costs in the long run. You should also invest in dedicated lab furniture that fully supports your lab equipment and allows it to run most efficiently. Our MS lab benches filter out vacuum pump noise, making for a quieter and safer lab, take up thirty percent less space and can even help with your HVAC costs in your new lab design. To learn more about integrating our dedicated lab furniture into your new laboratory design, contact us for a free quote today.



Lab Design with Soundproofing in Mind

Sometimes lab QuietBench_Shh1design and lab safety go hand in hand. This is especially true with noise. While dedicated lab furniture contributes to noise reduction, as we talk about often, so can lab design when it comes to soundproofing.

After all, it can be just as difficult to focus on your experiments when you’re able to hear instrument noises and voices from an adjoining lab coming through the walls, as it is if the sound is emanating from an unenclosed vacuum pump beneath the mass spectrometer you are using. As we often point out, it is critical to create a quiet lab environment for safety and the sake of the work being conducted.

Understanding Wall Design and Soundproofing

Many people think that insulation is the only variable that matters when it comes to soundproofing a wall. This is not the case, however. To understand why, we need to remember two basic physics lessons.

The first is that sound travels more easily through connected materials (aka “structural paths”) than it does through empty space. This matters because conventional or “standard” walls are constructed by nailing drywall to either side of a single row of studs. As a result, sound travels from the drywall on one side, through the stud, and out through the drywall on the other side—thus easily transmitting sound through the wall, from one room to another.

The second physics lesson tells us that the empty spaces between sections of drywall and the spaces between studs also transmit sound—although not as much as a structural path. This is why many lab designs incorporate insulation into those empty spaces between the walls. But insulation is usually insufficient because it’s just filling in the holes between the structural paths, which remain in place.

Laboratory Design with Soundproofing in Mind

A common solution in the past has been to add more insulation, creating thicker walls but not solving the problem because the structural paths remain, transmitting sound between rooms.

One of the newer solutions to come along in lab design is the idea of a staggered-stud or decoupled wall. In this case, two sets of studs are offset, and drywall is only nailed to one side of each stud. This allows for a continuous band of insulation to be woven between the studs within the wall. Since there is no structural path all the way through the wall, this approach provides a demonstrable positive effect in reducing noise transmission between different labs.

Not All Sound Travels the Same

Unfortunately, not all frequencies of sound are equally baffled by these methods. Insulation, for example, has a more positive effect reducing middle- and high-frequency sounds, but less of an effect on low-frequency sounds. As a result, additional barriers to sound should be incorporated into your laboratory design—like our MS Bench.

With its integrated vacuum pump enclosure, this dedicated lab furniture provides a 75 percent reduction in noise, with a guaranteed sound suppression of 15 dBA. By integrating our benches for mass spectrometers into your new lab design, you will create an additional sound barrier. Coupled with the insulation of modern staggered-stud walls, our dedicated lab furniture ensures that your new lab is as quiet as possible, with no sound carryover from mass spectrometry research taking place in adjacent rooms.

New lab design should always incorporate the results of proven research, whether it involves structural advancements, instrumental improvements, software or even furnishings. Dedicated lab furniture is worth the investment in a quieter lab; request a quote today to learn more.


Mass Spectrometry and LC Troubleshooting for Lab Safety

QuietBench_TroubleShooting So how can you tell if something is wrong with your mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography systems? We talk a lot about lab safety in general, but in this post we’re focusing on troubleshooting—because it’s critical to catch performance issues before they reach the level of a lab safety concern. Additionally, you don’t want to waste precious time and samples performing tests when your MS/LC systems aren’t working properly. For these reasons, it’s key to regularly evaluate your equipment and know what to do when something appears “off.”

Begin with the Lab Safety Basics

A good way to begin any inspection is with a visual overview of the entire system. You want to make sure everything looks normal. Does anything look out of place? Are there any leaks, or misaligned connections between the MS and the LC?

Of course, making these types of evaluations is a lot easier to do if you can get up close and personal with your machines, which is why we created our adjustable HPLC-UHPLC cart. It can easily be raised or lowered, allowing you to bring all parts of your system to eye level.

Break Down the Liquid Chromatography / Mass Spectrometry System

Next, you want to “break down the system” into its component parts—specifically mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography. For the LC, you want to watch the standard mixture separation, checking pressure traces and flow measurement, and running an injection check. You can isolate problems to one of a half-dozen areas:

  • Columns
  • Autosampler
  • Valves
  • Tubing
  • Injector
  • Pump

With mass spectrometry, the critical issue is infusion. You want to watch the voltages, detector signal and vacuum gauges. (Since we trust you are using our dedicated MS lab bench, with its vacuum pump enclosure that provides 75% noise reduction, you probably won’t notice any noise changes in the vacuum pumps.) Here, you can isolate the problem to:

  • Ionization or source
  • Calibration
  • Detector
  • Vacuum
  • Mass analyzer

Utilize CIV

CIV is short for “compare with installation values.” The engineers who install your instruments are some of your best lab safety allies because they know more about your equipment than anyone else. In addition to keeping track of installation values, make friends with your installers, ask them questions, and see if they will give you a copy of their own troubleshooting manual or other documents that aren’t normally given out to customers.

Specific things to pay attention to at the time of installation (and to record for future reference) include:

  • Vacuum settings (for all regions, when possible)
  • Voltage readbacks (copy screen shots of acceptable values)
  • Mixes as tuned for use (including sensitivity, resolution, stability, mass calibration, S/N)
  • Listing of best practices for auto-tune or calibration
  • Chromatographic performance (pressure range, peak width, RT stability)
  • Clear descriptions of error log messages
  • PM schedule recommendations for your specific use patterns
  • Recommendations for finding spare parts
  • Restrictions on solvent usage, pH values, etc.

Employ System Suitability Protocols

One helpful way to prevent lab safety problems and ascertain test parameters for mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography applications is to develop a system suitability protocol. This will help you monitor any changes that occur in your hardware or software. Analysis of a known sample provides data which can easily be compared with prior readings using a logbook that tracks prior performance, problems, and solutions.

Specific metrics for LC performance include retention time, peak shape, and chromatographic resolution; for mass spectrometers, you want to check sensitivity/response, mass accuracy, and precision. Always use the same method for LC and MS, and monitor metrics variability over a number of injections. Poor system suitability data should be kept to assist in troubleshooting future performance issues.

Enhance Your Lab’s Efficiency

We believe that optimal performance depends upon keeping instruments well calibrated and constantly monitored. We also believe that dedicated lab furniture will help you extend the life of your instruments and keep them performing at their best. For more information on our lab benches, contact us today.