Liquid Handler Systems: Purchasing Do's & Don'ts
Have you ever been put into the position where you are asked to purchase a major piece of instrumentation for your lab, such as a liquid handler? This can be a daunting task for anyone. While most liquid handlers perform the same functions, they can be marketed very differently by the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). There are a few do's and don'ts that will help you in the process of finding the right piece of equipment for your lab.
The first thing you need to do is to identify and document the process or processes that you intend to perform on the liquid handler. You will need to know your daily throughput, your volume levels, and typical workflow. This critical step needs to be nailed down prior to beginning any discussions about a liquid handlers. Once you have identified your process, you can begin to do your own research on which liquid handlers are being used by researchers performing similar applications or research. The internet is a trough of information. There are many publications that reference the equipment used in various applications. This is generally a good place to start when trying to learn what types of liquid handlers have been used in protocols similar to yours.Check your own network of contacts for their experiences with different types of liquid handlers. Real world input is critically important. Do not rely on the OEM to provide you with a reference account. OEM references are always happy and loyal customers. Independent references through known contacts will likely provide you with the best information to help make the right decision for your lab.
In addition to checking for references on the liquid handlers itself, ask your contacts about the post-sale experience and the level of support provided by the OEM. Post-sale support is an often over looked item when purchasing capital equipment. Insuring you, and your team, has the ability to contact a knowledgeable person to assist when something goes wrong, or something needs to be changed, is essential. Get to know the after sales support teams prior to making a final decision. Ask about the tenure of the staff. Staff consistency is usually a good indicator of a stable product and company.
Lastly, when you are comparing quotations from various OEMs, check the fine details. Is the liquid handler properly configured with the right deckware and accessories for your application? Are the warranty periods comparable? How much training will be provided during the installation? These small details in the quote can often make a big difference in your overall success with the system.
As a provider of a wide variety of Liquid Handlers, Copia Scientific is well suited to help you choose and design the right liquid handlers for your unique requirements. If you are the market for one, please give us a call. We will be happy to provide our input into which systems may be the best for you. We currently have a large inventory of top of the line liquid handlers from a wide range of OEMs. Our refurbishment and testing process is second to none, providing you a great cost effective solutions for your liquid handler needs.