Thinking Outside the Box

Martin Perkins

9th October 2013

The “Box” in this case is an analytical instrument such as a GC, GC-MS or LC-MS and the time to think outside of these particular boxes, is when the time comes to replace them.

The opportunity to replace an instrument only comes around once a decade or so. An awful lot can change in ten years, so failing to fully seize the chance to improve things can be very costly in the long run.

The easy decision is to simply replace an aging instrument with the current model. This doesn’t require much thought, but risks leaving you in much the same place as before, when much better alternatives may be out there un-discovered.

There are a few simple questions that you and your colleagues can pose yourselves that will help you uncover other options that offer you bigger pay-offs.

The idea is to get thinking in a broader context, so here are a few questions to get you thinking outside the box:

  • How will the laboratories responsibilities change over the next few years?
  • How will this influence the way things will need to be done?
  • What part of the whole analytical process represents the most work?
  • What part of the whole analytical process is responsible for the most errors?
  • If I have to revalidate my method when I get a new instrument, is this a good time to think about making improvements that can utilise the improved capabilities of a new instrument?
  • How do I expect my sample work-load to change over the next few years?
  • How should this influence my purchase?
  • What about future data quality requirements?
  • Are there any HS&E issues that need to be considered?
  • How quickly will I need to release results in the future?
  • Am I using my staff’s time and energy in the best way?
  • What parts of the whole process are we doing by hand that could sensibly be automated?
  • What is causing me the most trouble right now, and does the forthcoming purchase give me a chance to change this?
  • Are there any “game changing” technologies out there?
  • Could these open-up new opportunities for the lab?

There may be other questions that you can think of that could be usefully added to this list, but these should get you thinking.

There is another way of “thinking outside the box” and that is to seek inspiration outside of your own organisation.

When you start thinking about replacing your GC-MS or LC-MS, contact Anatune.

Our business is to offer analysts new and better ways of doing things. We specialise in GC and LC sample preparation and automation and so have plenty to offer in the way of ideas that can make the future better than the past.

Call us on 01223 279210 or email