Adopting automated chromatography sample preparation in the lab

There is no denying the skills gap that is now prevalent across just about all scientific industries, especially chemistry, with organisations struggling to recruit experienced staff. Automation is often touted as a practical solution to this challenge, with modern instruments capable of carrying out repetitive tasks in place of human operators. When thinking about automation, you might imagine rooms full of robots carrying out high throughput screening in the pharmaceutical industry – on a scale that humans simply couldn’t achieve – but smaller scale automation solutions can be just as effective. Think of them as your robotic lab assistant, working alongside your personnel to free them up from those repetitive day-to-day procedures, allowing them to concentrate on the real chemistry.

Here at ePrep, we understand that good quality sample preparation is critical to the success of chromatography. Analytical instrumentation has advanced leaps and bounds, and now offers mind-blowing levels of sensitivity, so why is sample preparation still performed the same way it was 50 years ago? To make matters worse, this time-consuming and, let’s face it, fairly dull task can be complex, requiring highly trained lab personnel while not making the best use of their time. This is where automated sample preparation can help, bringing chromatography labs into the 21st century.


Share the load

Automating sample preparation can make the most of the skills of everyone in the lab. We often find that labs have an automation ‘champion’ – an expert responsible for developing new workflows – who can also train technicians to set up the deck and start the process, as well as troubleshoot any issues in the workflow.


Consistent results

There are certain steps of manual sample preparation where reproducibility is a challenge. Do you sometimes find you don’t get the same result as you did yesterday, or as your labmate did last week? Or maybe your method worked during development but hasn’t transferred during process validation? Automation can help to overcome inter-user and method variability, producing consistent results across the board.


Adopting automated chromatography sample preparation in the lab


Adaptable configuration

There are lots of tasks in a chromatography lab that can benefit from automation, and few labs have the space – or budget – to buy a separate machine for each one. For example, you may want to run your calibration standards in the morning, then switch to your first batch of samples in the afternoon. So, it’s important to look for an instrument with an adaptable configuration that can be used for lots of different methods in the lab.


Not just for large batch sizes

Does your lab only run small batches that you don’t think qualify for automation? Every lab can benefit from automating sample prep, giving personnel more time to focus on other tasks. Alternatively, automation can help where workload is increasing but employing more staff isn’t an option – increasing the number of samples that your current staff can handle.


The perfect package

We’ve used our expertise in analytical chemistry to build a flexible automated instrument that supports almost any chromatography sample preparation workflow. Our ePrep ONE is a walk-away solution designed to help increase accuracy and throughput, while minimising volumes. It has an intuitive interface that is easy to set up and run, making it accessible to all level of user in the lab. It’s also highly adaptable to different methods and batch sizes, and can handle anything from 5 to 200 samples. After minimal manual set-up, it can be left to work its magic, allowing you to leave it to run overnight – and arrive to samples ready for analysis the next morning – or start it in the morning, then get on with more exciting parts of your job. It’s there as an assistant to keep things moving, it doesn’t need holiday and it doesn’t get sick!



It’s easy to fear change and be concerned that automation will displace lab staff but, in fact, it’s these very personnel that are to gain. At a time when recruitment and retention is difficult, bridging the skills gap by putting robots to work to do the mundane day-to-day tasks in a lab really empowers organisations to achieve greater efficiency, productivity and competitiveness, by making the most of the skills and talents of their employees.