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Analytical Intelligence

How Modern HPLC Instruments Meet the User Requirements

| Author / Editor: Gesa J. Schad* / Marc Platthaus

There are several features that a modern HPLC system should have.
There are several features that a modern HPLC system should have. (Source: Shimadzu)

Modern vehicles can no longer be imagined without them: assistance systems that support the driver. In this article, you can find out how assistance systems for analytical devices can help users in the laboratory with their work.

The core requirement for modern UHPLC systems is still the provision of correct analysis results. Reduced laboratory space, more complex employee requirements or less time for method development: Users want systems that support such requirements.

The new Nexera series of UHPLC systems from Shimadzu responds to these demands. It sets new benchmarks of intelligence, efficiency and design, merging ease-of-use and peace-of-mind. Advanced AI capabilities and lab management using the Internet of Things (IoT) have been integrated to monitor performance and resource allocation, making the new Nexera systems a leading-edge and user-friendly solution for versatile industries.

Shimadzu has long been advancing the analytical performance of HPLC systems. The company has recognized that overall efficiency depends not only on the performance of one instrument, but on the management of all devices within a lab. That’s where intelligence, efficiency and design come together.

The new Nexera systems are applicable to every analytical challenge with a seamless transfer between HPLC and UHPLC applications. They stand for high reliability, performance, reproducibility, ultra-low carryover and superior data quality. The instruments satisfy the needs of a wide range of applications for pharmaceutical, chemical, environmental, food and also clinical analyses.

Maximizing reliability and uptime

Intelligent auto-diagnostics, as well as auto-recovery functionality supports users in their day-to-day workflow. These built-in “Analytical Intelligence” (AI) features detect and resolve critical issues automatically, providing a new level of UHPLC performance, maximizing reliability and uptime.

As an example, in rare cases air bubbles can form by mixing of solvents and cause problems when moving through the flow line. ­Nexera systems monitor baseline changes and pressure fluctuations continuously to check for anomalies and to take appropriate counter measures. If an air bubble is detected, the system will pause the batch and apply a corrective purge, then restart the batch if the pressure remains stable — all automatically — thereby preventing the risk of inaccurate data due to air bubbles and pressure fluctuations (Fig. 1).

The Nexera UHPLC series maximizes reliability and uptime with fully unattended workflows that span from start-up to shut-down. Operators can set the system to start up at a specified time, so that it can complete auto-purge, equilibration, baseline checks and system suitability in advance, and be ready for analysis before they arrive at the lab. In addition, the smart flow pilot ramps up the flow rate gradually, reducing the possibility of damage to columns. There is no need to create start-up protocols for each analysis.

Mobile Phase levels can now be measured in real-time. Reservoir tray weight sensors monitor the volume of mobile phase or autosampler rinse solution in up to twelve containers, and can be checked remotely from a smart device. There is no need to worry about running out of mobile phase mid-analysis, as the system ensures beforehand that the volume will be sufficient for the entire run-time, otherwise giving a notification.

While reliability and up-time are essential characteristics in a routine work environment, process automation, ultra-fast analysis and high sample capacity to maximize throughput are key to increase lab efficiency.

Today’s pharmaceutical industry has been able to dramatically increase the throughput of new chemical entities (NCE), and drug metabolism and pharmacokinetic (DMPK) evaluation is a crucial step in early drug discovery. Development of higher throughput bioanalytical systems to speed up the rate of DMPK screens is a prime concern and there is a steadily increasing need for greater analytical capacity and throughput in clinical research laboratories.

Automating workflow, maximizing throughput

Shimadzu continues to lead the industry in efficiency and performance with the new Nexera series autosamplers, providing an injection to injection cycle time of less than eight seconds. Also, online sample pre-treatment can be performed easily with the user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) of the new Labsolutions Software as shown in figure 2. It simplifies standard procedures such as dilution, reagent addition and mixing and enables co-injection or derivatization without the variability and risk of human error associated with manual sample preparation. Injection ports for two separate flow paths can be installed, allowing two different types of analysis to be performed at the same time using only one system, and by changing the needle design, the risk of carry-over could be further reduced, minimizing the time required for rinsing and also resulting in a shorter overall analysis time.

Ease-of-operation with a reduced footprint

With the newly developed plate-­changers, the Nexera series provides non-stop temperature-controlled analysis of thousands of samples that can be set in advance in up to 14 Microtiter Plates (MTP) or vial racks in each plate changer. Even during analysis, the insertion of additional vials and MTPs is possible due to the autosampler’s excellent temperature control. Up to three plate changers can be connected to one system for maximum sample capacity. The set-up of the Nexera series merges user-friendly functions with operational efficiency while space and cost-saving aspects provide a sustainable profitable solution for any laboratory. The systems feature a uniquely small footprint that frees up bench space for additional instruments. They also reduce energy consumption in standby mode by over 80%, significantly minimizing running costs and supporting an environment-friendly lab.

Conclusion: UHPLC with AI and IoT features

Building on 40 years of experience in liquid chromatography technology, Shimadzu has integrated new technologies in the Nexera LC-40 UHPLC series. “Analytical Intelligence” has been incorporated to allow devices to detect and resolve issues automatically. Lab management has been integrated using the Internet of Things (IoT) and device networking, making it simple to review instrument status while optimizing resource allocation.

Due to the combination of AI as well as IoT features, the Nexera series foresees errors and helps the operator to avoid common mistakes in order to guarantee the best possible outcome and efficiency. Software features allow close monitoring of instrument use while setting informed maintenance intervals. Users benefit from minimized downtime and maximized time- saving.

* Dr. G. J. Schad Shimadzu Europe GmbH, 47269 Duisburg/Germany

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