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Checklists are only for pilots?

How many times have you been in too much of a hurry to get to get a sequence running, set one tiny instrument parameter wrongly and had to spend the whole of the next day repeating the analysis.

In the aviation world, pilots cannot afford to get even the smallest parameter wrong and use written checklists at all critical stages of flight to force them to check that everything has been set up correctly. Having a written checklist to follow just before you press start on the autosampler only takes a few minutes and could save you the embarrassment of a repeat analysis the following day.

Try the following as an example to use before setting off a run on a UV HPLC system. Depending on the type of system in use these checks could be on hardware, software (e.g. instrument file) or both.

1)         Mobile phases on correct pump line
2)         Sufficient mobile phase present to complete analysis of full run
3)         Each mobile phase line purged with at least 30ml
4)         Pump set to correct method flowrate
5)         Correct gradient program entered – check each line step by step
6)         Purge valve fully closed
7)         Back pressure at normal value and stable
8)         Column temperature set to method value

9)         Correct column (phase and dimensions) in use
10)       No leaks from column endfitting
11)       Correct injection volume specified
12)       Correct detection wavelength entered
13)       Correct runtime (including re-equilibration times) specified on hardware + software
14)       Baseline is stable
15)       Correct sequence information (including instrument parameters file) in sample que
16)       After pressing start wait to ensure the autosampler injects the sample
17)       The software starts acquiring data

The checklist can be laminated and located next to the instrument. Make sure it contains ways of checking for mistakes that you commonly see on the particular system you are using.

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