No matter what industry you’re in, budgets are tight. Costs for reagents, coverage plans, unexpected breakdowns, and plenty of other issues--the funds dry up quickly.
However, over the years we’ve picked up plenty of tips and tricks that can save your lab money and extend the life of your machine and its parts. So without further ado, here are 4 ways you can squeeze more out of your lab’s budget now.
One of the simplest and easiest ways to save money in your lab is by using old polymer to perform a variety of maintenance tasks on your machines. Reagents don’t come cheap, and it can be painful to waste fresh polymer on water washes and bubble removal procedures. Your excess polymer can be stored in the refrigerator to help preserve it, but you’ll want to label it clearly as “old.”
Simply use the bottle of old polymer to flush the machine and prime the pump. Then run a bubble removal wizard and when you are asked to replenish your polymer, switch to a new bottle. You’ll find that you end up using far less of your polymer by making this slight change.
One of the most common complaints we hear from our customers is they are seeing less than optimal results in their sequencing data. After going through the list of possible issues, we often come to the conclusion that the problem is a dirty capillary array.
Over time, the dried and degraded polymer will build up on the inner walls of the capillary array. This can negatively effect sample runs and cause your result to suffer. Depending on the type of machine you’re using, a new capillary array can cost up to $6,000, so make sure you take care of this vital piece. To help you improve your sample quality and extend the life of your array, download our Capillary Array Wash Procedure and get your lab back to full efficiency.
Keeping your air filter clean of all dirt and debris can greatly extend the life of your sequencer’s laser while also ensuring data quality. It’s vital, but often overlooked, part of your equipment. Assuming normal daily usage, check the filter about every six months. Who knows—a simple can of compressed air from your local hardware store might save you from spending thousands on a new laser and service.
One of the smaller parts on the ABI 3130, 3500, and 3730 that often goes overlooked is the piston. Neglecting to take care of this tiny piece can cause polymer to backflow into the pump motor and cause serious issues for your equipment. The easiest way to make sure this part is clean is to flush these water traps every six weeks.
To keep your traps clear and clean, you’ll need a 20mL Luer fitting syringe filled with distilled water. Just loosen your top-front fitting counter-clockwise enough to attach the syringe, and slowly start injecting water into the pump. Make sure all of the water is dispensed out of the pump and remove the waste bottle. For a full breakdown of this procedure, check out our step-by-step guide.
There are plenty of other small things you can do to ensure the long-term health of your sequencer, but incorporating these into your maintenance routine will get you started on the right foot. By taking care of your machine and its various moving parts, you can eliminate unexpected downtime, reduce wear and tear on your machines, and ensure high-quality data. And, as always, if you run into any problems, feel free to contact us for help.