Controlling Your Pipetting Costs

Calibration—Even High Quality Calibration—is Not Enough

Controlling liquid handling costs and maintaining quality pipette performance is a challenge for any lab. Most rely on a regular calibration service to protect their pipettes against inaccuracy and wear, but calibration alone is not enough to control the expense of your pipetting program over time.

Pipetting cost is primarily driven by pipetting errors caused by:

  1. Device measurement errors from inaccurate pipette calibration or irregular maintenance
  2. Ill-trained or poorly-skilled users making measurement mistakes.
  3. Pipettes or their tips not being well-matched to the properties of the liquid being measured

To control costs you have to control each of these 3 sources of error. A comprehensive pipette management program ensures:

  1. ISO 17025 and 8655 standards are applied to calibration services, while comprehensive preventative maintenance is never omitted.
  2. Pipette training that teach proper technique and best practices is provided regularly. Training that includes data-based performance testing is optimal.
  3. Quality pipettes and universal tips are first performance-tested to ensure a proper match, while also matching the properties of the liquid being measured

Though each potential contributor to measurement error may be small (2-5%), even they can compound  into larger, significant errors (10-20%). If measurement quality is bad enough, the errors can be catastrophic (up to 50% or more), especially at μL volumes. Poor technique and measurement errors inevitably lead to greater risk for costly rework, reagent waste or sample loss. However, the costs can be much larger for a lab, such as user injury (carpal tunnel syndrome/repetitive stress injury), failing to pass an audit or even unconfirmed or incorrect results.