All posts by Tim Hawkins

Don’t Let Lab Configuration Become a Game of Twister

TwisterChances are good that you inherited your lab space and didn’t have much say in how it was set up. Unless you’re one of the fortunate few who has the luxury of designing a brand-new space from the very beginning, you’re stuck with what you have. Furthermore, every lab is different; you can’t just copy someone else’s lab configuration because even if you’ve got a room with the same shape and size, the power outlets won’t be in the same place and you likely won’t have the same MS model as other labs.

Configuring your lab can become a greater challenge with every passing year as you take on additional equipment and projects. Getting work done in a crowded, haphazardly laid out environment is like playing a game of Twister. This is why the ability to customize your lab configuration really matters.

The Safety Aspects of Lab Configuration

Anyone who’s played a game of Twister knows that when any configuration gets too complicated, the system, like the game’s players, collapses. While that’s cause for lighthearted laughter in a children’s game, it can have a much more serious impact on your lab. The spatial limitations posed by most labs present a difficult challenge when you’re setting up your furniture layout in an existing space or need to add new equipment.

Mass spectrometry requires you to have a lab configuration that safely contains roughing pumps, holds the mass spec itself in a way that you (and service techs) can easily and safely access it, and houses your necessary peripheral equipment.

Questions to Ask When Configuring Your Lab

We’ve worked with a lot of lab managers and have seen a wide variety of lab spaces. Over the years, we’ve developed a list of questions that will help as you prepare to reconfigure your lab to accommodate new equipment or lines of work.

  • How many pieces of equipment do you/will you have?
  • How do they need to be connected?
  • How large is each piece of equipment?
  • What peripherals need to be connected with each piece?
  • What types of connections does piece of equipment need (power, hoses, tubing, etc.)?
  • Will hoses and tubes need to go out through the back of the bench or down through the surface?

Getting it Right with Customizable Lab Benches

Fortunately, we can help. Our dedicated lab furniture is customizable, which allows you to make the most of your limited space. In response to the needs addressed by these questions, we’ve developed IonBenches that are strong enough to hold the largest and most complex of mass specs, can be drilled with holes right where you need them for any type of connection, and are built with strong caster wheels that allow you to rearrange your lab configuration each time your line of inquiry takes a new turn.

Our IonBenches also work well together. We can manufacture mirror-image benches, where enclosures can match up with each other, allowing proper integration between mass spec and HPLC systems.

Don’t get pulled into a game of Twister. You might consult with a cabinet maker about the best configuration for new cabinets in your kitchen, so why not let us guide you with solutions to maximize space for the best possible lab configuration?

Contact us today at 888-669-1233 to discuss how to make the most of the lab space you have.

2018 Lab Safety Goal: Recognize Lab Noise as Serious Risk

RiskWe recently shared a disturbing report about the major gap between organizational culture and lab safety realities. We’ve all seen instances where company culture doesn’t exactly promote an environment where safety protocols can realistically be followed.

Petrotechnics surveyed over 200 senior leaders in the hydrocarbon industry and found that they held grave concerns over the lack of safety follow-through in their organizations. While company literature said all the right things about making safety a priority, the organizational procedures and practices did not hold up their end of the bargain when it came to following through on those priorities.

Most worrisome was the finding that the corporate culture in the majority of these organizations was actually resistant to implementation of process safety and risk management (PSM) procedures. This resistance is not necessarily rooted in carelessness or even maliciousness—rather, it is rooted in the natural tendency for corporations to drive productivity.

Let’s take this insight one step further and focus on a key concern of ours: lab noise reduction.

The Case for Lab Noise Reduction

A noisy lab is not just a threat to the ears of those who work there—though that is well-proven and certainly a necessary priority—it also linked with a range of diverse health issues. These include an increase in stress (with all its symptoms, including lack of sleep, short-temperedness, and an inability to concentrate, all of which can impact the interpretation of results in a critical lab procedure), coronary disease, hypertension and even our brain’s ability to process information correctly (again potentially leading to faulty test reporting).

Lab noise can interfere with critical communications, making it a safety hazard in a much different way. A noisy work environment makes verbal communications very difficult. And when lab personnel are dealing with potentially hazardous materials, there is very little room for error. What if a lab tech was to mishear instructions for handling a certain compound because the noise level in the lab was too high? This mishap could result in cross contamination, chemical burns, or even fires or explosions.

Integrating Lab Noise Reduction into Your Organizational Culture

We believe that lab noise reduction is a key ingredient in the lab safety recipe. Too many people, at all levels of an organization, can take their hearing and health for granted, choosing instead to focus on preventing the more spectacular lab accidents that make the news.

Noise doesn’t seem like an immediate threat or a potential major hazard—its impact is, however, insidious and lasting.

It’s why we’ve integrated lab noise reduction into our IonBench MS, which isolates up to three vacuum pumps in specially designed chambers of our custom designed lab furniture. With a lab noise reduction of over 75%, this dedicated lab furniture will minimize lab safety issues and facilitate efficient and accurate results by allowing everyone in the lab to hear each other, communicate clearly, and focus on research rather than PSM.

The more aware lab managers are to seemingly nonthreatening safety issues, the better the overall productivity of a lab and well-being of everyone there. We encourage you, and your team to embrace an integrated organizational culture that pays heed to even seemingly benign risks like lab noise. A well-thought-out lab noise reduction strategy can be a key element in effective lab safety culture. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today.

PSM Study Reveals Concerning Lack of Lab Safety Culture

Lab WorkersWe recently came across an unsettling report that bears sharing. The source is a Petrotechnics survey conducted in the summer of 2017 on process safety and risk management (PSM). Over 200 senior hydrocarbon-industry leaders with responsibility for process safety, asset integrity and operational risk management, responded with a frank assessment of the safety culture—or lack thereof—within their organizations.

While these insights are taken specifically from the chemical processing industry, we think the significant findings could help remind us all of the importance of supporting lab safety.

Aligning Goals with Plans and Procedures

Much of what concerned us with this report was a significant gap between goals stated in various companies’ literature and the presence of actual plans and procedures that would fulfill those goals in their practices.

While almost all companies had goals related to risk reduction and supporting safety performance, 61% of those surveyed believe their organizations do not have sufficient safety indicators or safety performance measurements. There was also concern expressed by 54% of respondents that PSM is not incorporated into programs and strategies for operational excellence. Specifically, those respondents felt that there was a lack of operative, real-time solutions designed to monitor and manage divergences from expectations or performance standards.

Furthermore, the greatest source of resistance to PSM implementation listed was organizational culture, with an overwhelming 86% listing this as an issue. Fully three quarters of respondents listed maintenance and internal procedures as other hindrances to a fully functioning PSM environment.

Speaking the Truth about PSM Issues

The anonymously conducted survey allowed respondents to freely express their opinions. Several anonymous responses indicated that companies often value productivity over safety.

Specific quotes are telling:

“Process safety is specialized knowledge, not typically understood by operations and maintenance, leading to implementation gaps.”

 “Production takes priority over safety, which often leads to shortcuts and safety incidents, despite corporate safety policies.”

 “Corporate lip service to PSM policies that are not backed up with effective and efficient planned preventative maintenance.”

Particularly significant was that only 6% of respondents indicated that critical safety maintenance was up to date. Yikes.

Making Lab Safety a Priority at All Levels

This study hits close to home. We’ve all seen it before: People lose sight of the importance of planned safety procedures that are regularly tested and implemented. They instead focus on the end result, forgetting the importance of working within lab safety parameters.

As labs are renovated or expanded, project goals evolve, and managers can easily forget the importance of purchasing equipment and lab furniture that will reduce safety risks. Attention that should be paid to the enhancement of lab safety becomes focused elsewhere, and impactful practices and products are overlooked.

Stocking up on safety gear, maintaining a clean and organized space, minimizing noise to ensure clear communication, battling vibration to protect lab equipment—these details are still critical to lab safety.

Adopting a “safety first” mentality is integral and backed by the overwhelming consensus of those 86% responders who believe that an organization’s culture has the greatest impact on PSM. When you’re running a busy lab, and must meet budget and production quotas, it can be difficult to balance safety into the equation. We can help you get on your way to a lab that’s designed with safety in mind, just give us a call.

Breakthroughs Aided by Mass Spec Technology in 2017

Earth in SpaceWe’re often focused on the more nitty-gritty side of mass spec technology and lab safety—but every once in a while, we like to look back and see just how far and wide the impacts of mass spec technology is reaching. It’s astonishing the different ways society has benefitted from the work being done in labs like yours around the world.

As the year draws to a close, we want to highlight these (really neat) scientific breakthroughs.

Asteroid Metals Vanquish Cancer Cells

We begin with work that has its roots in space. Iridium is a metal that is rarely found on earth, but is commonly found in meteorites—perhaps including an asteroid that hit the Yucatan Peninsula 66 million years ago, sparking a series of events that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. Today, researchers are wielding iridium with other extinctions in mind: cancer cells. By combining iridium with organic materials and activating the compound with red laser light, the compound transformed oxygen within cancer cells into singlet oxygen, which poisoned the cancer cells.

In the research, conducted by both Chinese and UK researchers, ultra-high-resolution mass spec technology was used to isolate the specific proteins being affected by the compound, and confirm that healthy cells were not adversely affected.

Making Testing as Easy as Breathing

Recent Swedish research has determined that fluids which line human airways can be effectively collected and analyzed through exhaled breath. In the past, analyzing exhaled particles has been difficult because the particle samples are so small. Instead, bodily fluids were collected through blood or urine samples, a much more invasive technique. In this study, liquid chromatography-mass spec technology was used to analyze collected samples. LC-MS was also employed to determine the effectiveness of different breathing patterns on the collection of samples. This research will likely impact a variety of fields that can analyze biomarkers. These include drug testing, the presence and spread of both lung and systemic diseases, and the analysis of various airborne contaminants.

Dating Early Advances in Human Agriculture

In addition to addressing modern challenges, mass spec technology is assisting researchers in understanding some of the earliest technological breakthroughs in human history. Researchers from Israel and Denmark have excavated and analyzed biological remains found at some of the earliest Natufian cultural sites in the Middle East. Natufians were early builders of permanent, rather than nomadic, homes and tended to edible plants. Using Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, or AMS, researchers were able to accurately date over twenty different samples of charred plant remains. AMS mass spec technology allows single atoms to be carbon-14 dated, which is accurate to within plus or minus 50 years. The richness of the cache of plant relics allowed researchers to choose short-lived plant parts—seeds and twigs—for carbon dating, thus making the results of this mass spec technology to be focused even more narrowly.

The impact of the AMS data is profound, because it suggests that permanent settlements and early agriculture arose almost simultaneously in different places around the Middle East. This means that there were multiple innovators in different settlements, coming to similar conclusions about the efficiency of setting up house in a single location.

Widespread Innovation

Clearly innovation is inherent in human nature. Innovators around the globe are making use of mass spec technology to transform both our understanding of our ancestors and our ability to analyze and manipulate the world around us. We are grateful to have a role to play in supporting lab safety and the lab equipment used in these and other studies, and look forward to seeing what researchers like you will innovate in 2018.

Incorporating Operating Expenses into Your Mass Spec Budget

OPEXWhether you’re adding your first mass spec to a brand-new lab or simply incorporating additional equipment into an expanding facility, you need to plan for both capital and operating expenses. We’ve talked about capital expenses, which include not only the machine itself, but also appropriate lab preparation, dedicated lab furniture, and one-time purchases of necessary accessories. Here, we will take a closer look at the accompanying operating expenses you need to include in your mass spec budget.

Consumables and Accessories

When it comes to a mass spec usage budget, most managers think first about consumables. This is appropriate, but can vary widely, depending on the number of samples being analyzed each month and the type and nature of those samples.

Gases and Solvents: Having enough gases and high-quality solvents on hand is critical for the smooth operation of any lab.

Cleaning supplies: You will need to remember to include cleanup materials in your mass spec budget as well, because, as we all know, accidents happen. For an additional level of lab safety, and as a way to cut down on damage control costs, you can prevent spills and injuries by investing in elevating dedicated lab furniture.

Accessories: There are many types of operational accessories that you will need to include in your mass spec budget. Some are disposable, or one-time use only and will need to be replaced regularly:

    • Chromatography columns
    • Ion samplers
    • Skimmer and sample cones
    • Dust filters
    • Flow interfaces, controllers and tubes
    • Autosamplers
    • Sample handling kits
    • Assay kits
    • Slit systems
    • Pump and anode tubing
    • Nebulizers
    • Connector kits

Machine Service and Maintenance

Regular maintenance is critical to minimizing downtime and insuring lab safety. This is a significant annual expense, which can run between five and ten percent of the initial cost of the MS. Tuning and calibration must be performed by licensed service technicians. These expenses will be lower if you have invested in dedicated lab furniture to support your mass spec. Furniture like our IonBench MS uses high-quality springs to minimize the amount of vibration and other movement that can shorten the life of MS components such as turbopumps.

Additional Mass Spec Budget Costs

There are a variety of other costs associated with operating any MS that might not be so obvious when you are setting up a mass spec budget for the first time.

Training: First, you need to train all users on each type of mass spec to maximize efficiency and promote lab safety. The level of training needed will vary, depending on the rate of lab worker turnover and the sophistication of the operations being performed.

Software: Second, you will need to keep appropriate accompanying software up to date.

Energy costs: Third, don’t forget the significant costs for electricity, not just for the mass spec, but also for ancillary machinery needed to keep your lab cool and safe.

If you want to run a safe and productive lab, it’s important to plan ahead. Consider both your capital and operating costs and configure your lab in the most efficient manner possible. Keep sufficient consumables on hand—safely housed in dedicated lab furniture to prevent lab safety accidents—and make sure to rotate stock regularly to maintain the freshness of your materials. Should you have any questions about how our IonBench products can help cut down on your operating expenses, please contact us today.

Capital Expenses: Five Components to Your Mass Spec Budget

2018 BudgetSometimes budgeting can be especially tricky. This is most true when contemplating the capital budget. When you buy most equipment, you hope—and plan—that it’s going to last quite a few years.

So, when it’s time to expand your lab or replace an outdated MS model, you’ll want to make sure you’ve put together a comprehensive budget that accounts for all foreseeable expenses. Trust us, you’ll be glad you took the time to submit a thorough and accurate request for funding the first time around.

Five Components of Your Mass Spec Budget

There are five categories you need to consider in crafting a complete mass spec budget. (If you’re looking for tips on other types of preparation, we’ve covered that too.)

  1. The Equipment Itself - Naturally, your new mass spectrometer is going to be your primary expense. While the MS itself is important, also be sure to calculate the cost of shipping, delivery, and safely getting that mass spec into place once it arrives.
     
  2. Mass Spec Accessories - What types of technologies will need to interface with your new MS? Is your current computer up to the task? Do you have access to an updated mass spectral database for analysis?
     
    Will you want one or more interface machines, a spray chamber accessory, consumable kits, sample cones, tubing, connector systems, flow controllers, a new gas bench? The list goes on. Take time to consider each type of process your new MS can be expected to handle, and what accessories you will need to make each happen smoothly and seamlessly.
  1. Lab Preparation – Will you need to requisition construction or install any materials to prepare your lab space for the new arrival? Should soundproofing be put in, or is your lab already prepared? Once the purchase is approved, you’ll want to get going on this as soon as practical, keeping in mind that construction projects can cause complications for ongoing work in your lab.
     
  2. Dedicated Storage Furniture – We’ve stressed the importance of having specially designed and dedicated storage available for combustible and otherwise dangerous elements that are used with the new MS in your lab. If this applies to your lab’s scope of work, make sure your budget includes proper storage shelving, cabinets and drawers, (and that the lab design of your construction project includes space for these storage elements).
     
  3. Proper Support for Your New Mass Spectrometer – After going to all this trouble and expense, you certainly want to make sure your new mass spec will be housed as safely and securely as possible in its new environment. This means investing in dedicated lab furniture that is not only strong enough to support the MS, but also all those supplies and peripherals you’re now ordering.

Remember to account for noise reduction: Will the MS be noisy enough that you should enclose the vacuum pumps in either our IonBench MS or a vacuum pump enclosure?

Incorporating Lab Safety into Your Mass Spec Budget

If you want to run a safe and productive lab, you need to plan. Getting approval for significant capital budget items is important, and making sure those numbers are accurate is just as critical. Consider your costs and configure your lab as safely as possible, and your foresight will be rewarded. To learn more, contact us today.

 

It All Adds Up: The Non-Auditory Effects of Lab Noise

Ear PlugNoise is a hazard in many modern work environments, and the lab is no different. A variety of issues arise when people are exposed to excess noise—and not all of them have to do with hearing loss. Lab managers need to pay attention to these noise related dangers—and learn about possible solutions, thereby increasing lab safety and disruption in the laboratory workplace.

Non-Auditory Effects of Occupational Noise

Over the years, researchers have determined that there are numerous effects that impact humans who are exposed to excess noise in the workplace. The first thing that comes to mind for many of us is hearing loss. While that’s a legitimate concern in workplaces that have very high noise levels, today we’re going to focus instead on the non-auditory effects that result from an excess of low-level noise:

Annoyance - While we understand that everyone can occasionally get upset over something, a steady diet of increased noise can make us upset over everything. This increase in annoyance can manifest in anger, exhaustion, and other stress-related symptoms.

Cardiovascular Disease - This one may surprise a lot of people, and it’s significant enough that we’ve talked about it before. Our bodies naturally respond to noise with increased blood pressure and heart rate. Over time, these responses put stress on the heart.

Cognitive Performance – One of the most troubling results from research is that exposure to excess noise has a negative impact on learning. Students exposed to excess noise do worse on cognitive tests, have more memory issues, and demonstrate poorer reading skills.

What Noise Levels Cause Lab Safety Issues?

How do you know if you need to implement noise reduction at your lab or workplace? Get out the sound meter. OSHA standards state that an average time-weighted noise level exposure over an eight-hour shift must not exceed 85 dBA. It is the accumulated effect of all noise sources which result in this noise level limit—meaning that all noise factors must be counted in the total.

With regard to laboratories, OSHA states: “The recommended upper limit for noise for speech to be intelligible is 55 dBA. If the noise level in the laboratory is too high for the staff to hear what is being said, whether in conversation or on the telephone, there is a danger of misunderstanding instructions or laboratory results.” (1)

Here are the three categories of causes that impact these noise level limits:

EquipmentJust about every piece of lab equipment generates some level of noise. In addition to mass spec vacuum pumps, we can think of fume hoods, fridges and freezers, compressors, homogenizers, stirrers, even the rock crushers in a geology lab. Together, all this equipment can really get your lab humming, making it hard to hear, hard to think, and hard to know when a situation reaches a critical lab safety threshold.

Human Activity - In addition to equipment, humans bring additional noise into the lab environment. Sometimes it’s radios and phones, which are used to drown out the other noises. Other times, it’s conversations, teaching moments, and simply the miscellaneous noises generated when humans work together in a lab environment. Each of these contribute to the noise level total.

External Environmental Sources – No lab exists in a vacuum—even if it’s working hard to create one. If your lab is in an industrial area, some noise from the industries around will seep into your facility. Vehicular traffic, the occasional siren, or even a loud thunderstorm will amp up the noise level until it becomes a lab safety issue.

Lab Noise Reduction Options

Naturally, where there is a problem, scientists work to find solutions. Some of the most effective lab noise reduction options include:

  • Sound dampening materials for walls, ceilings and floors
  • Strategic placement of noisy equipment, including into adjacent, sound-proofed rooms, if you’re in the design phase for a new or refurbished lab
  • Selecting lab equipment that’s designed to emit lower noise levels
  • Investing in dedicated lab furniture such as IonBench MS and IonBench LC
  • Isolating noisy vacuum pumps with specifically designed enclosures

The bottom line is that lab noise reduction will make for happier, calmer, safer, more productive staff and researchers. To learn more, request a quote from us today.

References:
(1) 
OSHA Fact Sheet 3463 8/2011 “Laboratory Safety Noise”

Storage Guidelines for Flammables and Combustibles in Your Lab

FlammableDanger comes in many forms. In labs, danger can hang out quietly on a shelf, waiting for just the right set of circumstances to occur. If you don’t have proper lab storage procedures in place and appropriate cabinets installed, you could run the risk of developing unseen lab safety issues.

For example, hazardous liquids require specialized cabinets for safe lab storage. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the National Fire Protection Association have approved specific types of furniture that can safely store combustible liquids. It’s one of the reasons why we always recommend dedicated lab furniture as a way to address appropriate lab safety needs.

Defining Combustible Materials

First things first: What do lab safety experts consider flammable? The two key concerns here are the flashpoint and the boiling point. Flashpoint is the minimum temperature at which a flammable liquid releases sufficient vapor, in combination with the air adjacent to the liquid’s surface, to spontaneously ignite. OSHA defines flammable liquids as those with a flashpoint at or beneath 93 °C or 199.4°F.

If the flashpoint is at or below 23°C or 73.4°F, the boiling point of the liquid (above or below 35°C or 95°F) is also considered in determining its flammability. Other elements that affect flashpoints include vapor density and pressure, specific gravity, and ignition temperature. Lab storage of any material considered flammable must follow certain procedures to prevent a lab safety incident.

Lab Storage Containers for Flammable Materials

OSHA recommends using safety cans for lab storage of flammable materials. They define a safety can as a container “of not more than 5-gallons capacity, having a spring-closing lid and spout cover, and so designed that it will safely relieve internal pressure when subjected to fire exposure.” Naturally, over the years, many such containers have shown up on the market. Numerous insurance companies’ lab safety recommendations (along with municipal laws) require that such safety cans carry either FM (Factory Mutual) or UL labels. Depending on the flashpoint range, these cans must range in maximum size between two and five gallons.

Other types of lab safety containers are also evaluated, both for storage and for transport. Glass or approved plastic containers range in size from one pint to one gallon, while metal drums with DOT specs are approved at 60 gallons and portable tanks are approved at 660 gallons.

Specialized Storage Cabinet Parameters Promote Lab Safety

In addition to storing flammable liquids in approved containers, those containers also need to be placed in lab storage cabinets specially designed to safely hold the containers. The cabinets must be clearly labeled “Flammable: Keep Fire Away” and be constructed in such a way that after ten minutes of exposure to fire, the cabinets’ internal temperature will not exceed 163°C or 325°F.

Such storage cabinets designed to these parameters are most frequently constructed of at least 18-gauge sheet iron on all sides and are double-walled with a 1.5-inch airspace between the walls. The wall joints are most often riveted or welded, although other appropriately strong bonding options can be approved. Doors on these lab storage cabinets must have a three-point latch, and the bottom of the door must be at least two inches above the bottom of the cabinet itself, so the cabinet will retain any liquids that might spill during a lab safety accident.

Dedicated to the Best and Safest Lab Furniture

Being dedicated to lab safety means we are constantly educating ourselves and striving to inform you about all the best practices for your lab. Supplies and furniture that meet safety requirements are part and parcel with those practices—whether we sell them or not. Every task in your lab brings with it some possibilities for danger. With safe containers and lab storage, as well as our IonBench solutions for safely using your MS and HPLC, you will minimize many lab safety risks.

To learn more about our dedicated lab furniture, and how it can configure into your lab safety game plan, contact us today.

Mass Spec Technology Advances Open Doors in Research and Clinical Applications

PioneeringWe like keeping up with what’s happening in the world of mass spectrometry. After all, support for the technology means more than a safe and solid bench to place your MS on. In the century since its invention, mass spec technology advancements keep on coming. In this post, we want to celebrate three specific ways in which MS continues to evolve.

Expanding LC-MS/MS into Routine Clinical Settings

Mass spec technology advancements are increasingly arriving in local clinical settings. Instrument design has downsized significantly, allowing for simplified, standardized diagnostic kits to replace lab testing. This past summer, two instruments were launched that provide “industry-first” clinical lab results.

After six years in development, Thermo Fisher Scientific is close to launching the premier fully integrated LC-MS/MS clinical analyzer: Cascadion SM. Its specially designed reagent kit requires minimal interaction by people who are not experts with MS technology. SCIEX also launched an LC-MS system designed particularly for clinical diagnostics. They have adapted their existing Topaz™ system to allow LC-MS to be more accessible and comprehensible to staff in clinical labs.

Standardization is key to the success of both these mass spec technology advancements, especially since the FDA is guiding away from LDTs. By moving toward automation in a clinical setting, med techs can be more easily trained in operating and sustaining clinical processes. Improvements in procedures are already forecast for renal cell carcinoma diagnostics and genetic testing for opioid addiction risk.

Bruker’s New Tech Platform: TimsTOFTM

Bruker has created a flexible mass spec that optimizes separation and analysis using Ion Mobility Expansion that has the highest ion mobility resolution in the industry. Previously, research and practical applications were limited by the physical size of IMS systems, but they created a compact TIMS with resolution greater than 200. TIMS also allows accurate assessment of collisional cross sections and gas-phase protein structure and aggregation. Users can also develop their own analytical algorithms because their platform employs the *.tdf open data format based on SQLite. Bruker also supplies data analysis software to maximize interactive analysis of higher-resolution ion mobility data.

Mass Spec Technology Advancements for 2D-LC Methodologies

Two-dimensional liquid chromatography (2D-LC) is evolving from lab-constructed jury-rigged type systems (hopefully well-supported on our dedicated lab furniture) to commercial 2D-LC instruments that allow more robust performance and integration with other processes. Techs can now easily switch between selective and comprehensive 2D-LC with enhanced instrument control. Pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical laboratories are taking note.

Commercial 2D-LC has previously transformed small-molecule analysis, usually focused on single-peak heart cutting. Problems remained, however. For example, orthogonal selectivity in the second dimension was limited to using simple heart-cutting LC–LC for single peak transfer. Researchers were challenged by the slow speed of chiral separations, which limited the use of chiral stationary phases (CSPs) as the second dimension, particularly when using the comprehensive mode. Now, however, multiple groups of researchers have proven that chiral separations in either or both dimensions of 2D-LC pharmaceuticals separations produce excellent division of mixtures that were difficult to resolve.

Supporting Mass Spectrometry Evolution

We celebrate these mass spec technology advancements and trust that more are on the way. At this point, mass spec technology permeates every genre of science and is used in a seemingly endless variety of helpful applications.

As mass spec technology evolves, you may find that your lab configuration needs change. Secure and customizable solutions for supporting your equipment are available. Our IonBench MS provides more than adequate support for all MS equipment, and help further the research being done and the advances made. If you know of further mass spec technology advancements we should celebrate here, please contact us today.

 

Equipment Configuration Feng Shui Can Enhance Lab Safety

RocksEvery lab has its own spatial challenges. In the process of working with lab administrators over the years, we’ve heard about many different configuration obstacles that labs have had to overcome to get their work done. Sometimes, these changes seem to require a Feng Shui expert to get things to align properly—but a better approach is to talk to experts about incorporating custom dedicated lab furniture into your lab.

Aligning Mass Spec Equipment and Lab Safety

Research labs, academic labs, and clinical labs all have their own unique set of priorities and necessary outcomes, and for each, the ideal lab configuration is different. When you consider the shape and dimensions of the space you’re working with, there’s simply no way to have a “one size fits all” solution. Instead, it’s best to align your spatial limitations and equipment support needs to determine the best setup for a well-organized space—one that will prevent lab accidents from happening and keep workflow moving as efficiently as possible. When your furniture is crafted with the task in mind, even personnel posture can be improved.

Making Lab Arrangements Work and Prevent Lab Accidents

The shape and size of your mass spec and other key instrumentation will determine a lot of what you can and can’t do within your lab space. For example, we had a customer with a Shimadzu 8050 alongside a large HPLC system. He also wanted an attached work area for his computer so he didn’t have to trek back and forth to record data. We have an extended lab bench, but the overhang from it would have covered a third of the standard lateral side bench needed for the computer. We worked out a custom solution, using our dedicated lab furniture, which canted the additional work surface to minimize the overlap. The result was a large, sophisticated MS-HPLC system, with workstation, all in a space of between eight and nine feet.

Another issue arises when labs have deep mass specs, such as the Waters Xevo TQ-S. In this situation, we can install access holes for hoses on the back of the IonBench MS instead of on the top, which is our standard configuration. Since the bench is also built on casters, it’s possible to get to those hoses without reaching and climbing—thus decreasing the possibility of accidents and minimizing potential damage when the equipment is moved out for servicing.

Mobility Is the Key to Configuration Success

Casters are key when it comes to arranging your lab. We know of a startup facility in Boston with a beautiful, classic lab design, where everything was aligned perfectly at the beginning to allow for efficient workflow and to prevent lab accidents. Unfortunately, over time, they purchased more and more equipment and had no place to put it.

If they’d set everything on movable lab furniture, they could have easily, repeatedly, and safely rearranged their lab to find a configuration that would work best for them. Ultimately, they had to rent additional space to house their growing collection of equipment. It was a costly alternative that could have been avoided with some planning and forethought about customization and mobility.

Keeping Lab Workspaces Functional

There are several key elements to supporting lab safety through designing functional lab spaces. Fine-tuning your set up will ensure that lab personnel can work safely and efficiently within a space.

You may not even realize your lab configuration is inefficient, because you’ve become so used to working around the inefficiencies. But there’s a good chance your lab feng shui could be improved. Give us a call to talk about your unique spatial challenges and we’d be happy to explore the many possibilities for customizing your lab configuration.