Clinical and analytical laboratories are under constant pressure to increase throughput. Throughput is the amount of material or items passing through a system. In this case, it’s analyzing a higher volume of samples per day. This brings several advantages: reduced cost per sample, decreased sample turnaround time, fewer instruments needed, and reduction of laboratory space required. These reasons, among others, are why laboratory managers are pushing instrument manufactures to increase their throughput.
This article looks into what limits the volume of throughput in labs, and how breakthrough advancements in valve technology can provide the above-stated improvements for clinical and analytical labs.
What factors slow throughput?
The time it takes to perform analysis in the labs can greatly decrease throughput. Instrument manufacturers continually search for ways to increase the process speed of analyzing samples so larger qualities of the sample can be analyzed each day. One way to solve this problem is by reducing the length of fluid passageways so the liquids spend less time in transit. This creates less clean up later. Reducing the number of valves needed and using smaller valves that can be placed closer together are two ways to reduce transit times.
The second challenge to instrument manufactures is to ensure no carryover of one sample or reagent into another. This is of great concern to lab managers because the integrity of the sample will be compromised, and the analysis will be flawed. Lab technicians spend lots of time washing out valves to ensure carryover doesn’t occur. The washing process slows the system down and generates liquid waste which can be very costly to dispose of. These factors are why instrument manufacturers have focused on reducing carryover in sampling and reagent circuits.
How to increase throughput?
The Precision Fluidics Division of Parker Hannifin Corporation interviewed many laboratory instrument manufacturers to understand their needs. The manufactures expressed the need for a valve with low carryover with low internal volume, and the ability to reduce the complexity for fluidic circuits. Based on this feedback, Precision Fluidics developed the Parker Ultra Low Carryover Valve. This valve offers best in class carryover performance and allows its users to replace two valves with one. The patented pending design offers a very small internal volume of 13.6 uL from diaphragm seal to the outlet port.
"Today's valve offerings have serious limitations in reducing carryover. We are introducing a new valve that can improve throughput by reducing carryover while offering features that also provide increased efficiency and speed in fluid circuits.
— Don McNeil, product manager, Parker Precision Fluidics Division
Parker tested the Ultra Low Carryover Valve against pinch and rocker isolation valves from three leading manufacturers and compared their respective performances to the Parker Ultra Low Carryover Valve. The models selected were those with the capabilities of achieving the lowest levels of carryover among their respective product lines.
During testing these systems were also set and optimized to achieve the best carryover performance and each valve were of a three-way configuration. For the test, each was filled with Brilliant Blue dye, switched to the second channel, and a precision syringe pump was used to provide flow through the valve. The absorbance was measured until it was no longer detectable.
The data below shows Parker Ultra Low Carryover Valve has a clear advantage in washing out faster than the industry-leading pinch and rocker isolation valves. In cleaning to the 10 PPM level the Parker Ultra Low Carryover Valve cleans out 65% faster and with 65% less volume than the next closest competitor, which uses an internal pinch design.
This means by using the Parker Ultra Low Carry Over Valve in the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) design, you can increase throughput while reducing liquid waste.
Another feature of the Parker Ultra Low Carryover is the capability of having four different states of operation. A traditional three-way valve can flow through channel A or channel B, but the Ultra Low Carry Over Valve can close off both simultaneously or open both simultaneously. This makes it possible to replace a common pairing of a two way and three-way valve in a series with a single Parker Ultra Low Carryover valve.
Design more efficient products to increase throughput
In conclusion, the new Parker Ultra Low Carryover will allow laboratory instrument manufacturers to design more efficient products to increase throughput in clinical and analytical chemistry labs. The following summarizes how The Ultra Low Carryover increases throughput:
- Decreased risk of result error due to carryover from previous sample(s)
- Reduced time to clean system allowing improved throughput
- Increased sample tested per hour
- Reduced cost per sample
- Reduced liquid consumption
- Reduced liquid waste
- Simplification of fluid circuits due to three ports and four modes of operation
- High reliability and life rating
Our applications engineering team is always available to provide recommendations and customize equipment to customer specifications.
To learn more, visit Parker Hannifin’s Precision Fluidics Division or call 603-595-1500 to speak with an engineer.
Don McNeil is the market development manager at Parker Precision Fluidics. Don has over thirty years of experience working in product management for Clinical Diagnostics and Analytical Chemistry companies. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and an MBA.