Why having a Qualification history of your automated liquid handling processes is better for your lab?
If you are using an automated liquid handling system, qualifying it is probably one of your concern, and you’re right! Qualifying a robotic equipment and even more, an entire process is a good habit to maintain in a laboratory to justify the quality of your results.
A one time qualification is good, but having a qualification history is better.
During your qualification procedure, you obtain multiple statistical parameters (average, relative biaisbias, CV, Z-score distribution…) that help you evaluate the precision and accuracy of your liquid handling system. And if it falls into your range of acceptance, you can decide that your equipment is qualified.
If you identify an error that is out of your acceptance range, you can try to “correct” it by invalidating the data (e.g. by invalidating a well). This can give you a hint about the origin of the bias. The other way to deal with a bias is to try to reproduce it. Indeed, If you’re able to reproduce it, then a maintenance operation is probably needed on the platform.
At another level, you can decide to perform a qualification on a process (a plate replication or plate reformatting, etc…) run on one platform. If you adopt this habit, you’re going further in the analysis of precision and accuracy of your process. For example, in a case of a 10-plate replication process, the platform can perform within the acceptance range for the first six plates and start dispensing less or more volume after the sixth plate. Then, you are able to see an increase of the systematic error and/or the random error for this process after the sixth plate. However, you would have not seen it if you performed a replication process with 2 or 3 plates.
This level of qualification increases the amount of data you acquire (data points). It allows you to eventually identify patterns in the dispense process , therefore helps you to rely more on your future data.
You can go even deeper in the QA/QC of your pipetting operations. If you qualify your robotic platforms on a regular basis you are able to generate a qualification history. Having the history of your qualified process enables you to track the precision and accuracy of your liquid handling processes.
The first benefit of a qualification history is to help you build control charts. A control chart indicates if your process is still in your range of acceptance (previously defined). It is a very useful approach to track quality in industries.
The second benefit of having the qualification history is to help you monitor the evolution of your process executed on the robotic platform. Monitoring at such level will help you identify patterns. If the platform’s precision is drifting slowly toward the upper limit you previously set (e.g. Coefficient of Variation > 5%).
The third benefit of having a qualification history is to help you manage the maintenance cost. Once you identified a recurring error you can plan a maintenance operation without waiting for the conventional maintenance.
On the other way if the followed robotic platform performance is in your acceptance range, you should be able to avoid the cost of a conventional maintenance, usually planned once or twice a year.
To conclude, if you are using a liquid handling system, having a qualification history helps you perform better data analytics and, consequently, take better decisions that could have a strong impact on your laboratory’s efficiency. At Discngine, we are aware of this problem impacting the quality in your laboratory, that’s why we developed a new web application called Qualification to help scientists be more efficient in their daily task.