Buying a piece of equipment for a lab is never an easy task. Such equipment tends to be rather costly, so you don’t want to make a mistake. Even if you have years of experience working in your field, you may still get a little nervous before committing to an order. While this could apply to any of a number of different types of laboratory equipment, we are talking specifically about liquid handlers in this article. When the time comes to order a new or used liquid handler system, you will want to get it right the first time.
Think About Your Needs
Before you even bother exploring the market to see what kinds of systems are available, you will need to do a little thinking about your lab’s needs. What kind of throughput do you need to handle on a daily basis? What does your workflow look like? Think about how the liquid handler is going to fit into the overall picture of lab operations. Without this background, it will simply be impossible to pick the right machine for the job.
Of course, in addition to thinking about your functional needs, you are also going to need to consider budgetary constraints. How much can you spend on this purchase? Even if you don’t have a specific budget, you likely have a price range which you would not be able to exceed. It won’t matter that you find the perfect liquid handler system for your lab if you can’t afford the purchase price.
You almost certainly have at least a few connections in the industry that you can contact for tips on this purchase. Which brands have some of your colleagues decided to trust? What feedback do they have to offer on those products? The manufacturers themselves will always give you a best-case picture of how their liquid handler works, so talking to impartial users is a great way to get accurate information.
Consider the Details
It is the small stuff which will often make or break this kind of purchase. Don’t overlook the details while doing your homework, or you could pay the price in the end. For instance, make sure to check on the length of the warranty, as well as the kind of post-sale support that is offered. Also, ask about how much training will be provided when the system is installed, and how much training is generally needed to bring the staff up to speed. It is easy to be distracted by the major features of a system, but it is the little things that you will probably care most about in the long run.
You don’t have to be overwhelmed when you begin the process of looking for a new or used liquid handler system. Sure, this can be a big purchase, but you can get it right as long as you take your time and do your homework. Make sure the machine you choose has all of the features your lab requires, and make sure the company supports it properly. Good luck!