A Lab on a Rail

Martin Perkins

7th October 2016

Automation, Centrifuge, GC/Q-TOF, Liquid-Liquid Extraction, Metabolomics,

Recently I have been working on the automation of several workflows for metabolomics applications.  As it usually happens in busy labs, the instrument I booked for this piece of work (Agilent GC 7890 coupled to the Agilent QTOF 7200) was available only for a limited amount of time; hence, I needed to make the most of the allocated instrument time.

The workflows to automate shared some sample preparation steps but only to a certain extent: they all required derivatisation but at different incubation temperatures, some would require centrifugation and evaporation of the supernatant whilst some other would need vigorous agitation for liquid/liquid extraction of the derivatives.

I needed the flexibility to swap from one workflow to the other during the method development phase without having to worry to reconfigure the system each time… I needed a (wet) lab on an (MPS) rail!


I was able to configure the GC/Q-TOF exactly the way I wanted and here is the system I ended up with…


This configuration offered me three big advantages:

  1. I could carry out all of my metabolomics workflows without having to reconfigure my instrument.  This saved me so much time.
  2. I could prepare each sample freshly just before injection.  This avoided variations within my sample batches due to derivatives degrading to different extents depending upon how long they have been waiting to be analysed.
  3. I was able to reduce to a minimum, the time the GC/MS was waiting between runs – so I got the best possible use of the limited instrument time available to me.

If you are running lots of routine samples, automated sample preparation is an obvious benefit.  What are not so obvious are the big advantages you get from automation when developing methods.

Its how we get so much done in our laboratory.

Perhaps it can help you do the same?

If you would like to know more, please do not hesitate to contact us either on +44 (0)1223 279210 or email: enquiries@anatune.co.uk.