While on vacation last week, I had the opportunity to rent a 2015 Ford Expedition, which, believe it or not, reminded me of a recent service visit we performed! Now I am most definitely not a car person and personally drive an older hybrid, so I have to say I was most impressed by all the new features this SUV offered.
There was one feature however that I could have done without – the smart key! The key had a top speed programmed into it, would constantly alarm when the vehicle’s speed approached that user defined limit, and would actually stop the car from accelerating past that set point. Thankfully we were given two keys and I had to make sure NOT to use the “smart” key.
So what does the above scenario have to do with our service? Last December we conducted a 7500 FAST preventative maintenance service in one of the labs at a large university. Although their PM is only necessary once a year, this newer model qPCR machine’s software version has the annoying feature of generating an error message after six months telling the end user that the calibration has expired. While in most cases, your machine does not require re-calibration every six months, this poor end user was faced with the dilemma of ignoring the error message each time he started the software or having to spend $1500 to purchase new pure dye plates.
What then, is a reasonable expectation for calibrating your qPCR machines and Sanger sequencers? Usually the calibrations are input during your preventative maintenance visit and you will not have to re-do the standard run. There are a few instances that do require you recalibrate. They are the same for qPCR machines or Sanger sequencers.
1. You upgrade or must replace your computer for any reason
2. You replace the CCD camera on the machine
3. You replace the laser on the machine
4. You move the machine to a new location
Some labs have SOPs that require the pure dye, spectral, or matrix standards to be run at other times during the year, but for the vast majority of labs we visit, the above list is all-inclusive. If you have questions on this or any other topic please feel free to give us a call and we would be more than happy to help you out!