Pipettes are the primary tools that laboratory scientists use each day, perhaps as a hammer is to a roofer. They provide accurate measurements of very small volumes of liquids in the user’s quest to obtain correct test results. But pipettes are mechanical devices that require regular calibration service to maintain their accuracy and precision. The similarities are not unlike the maintenance of your car. Without regular service and repair, your car can break down, leave you stranded and result in high repair costs. Pipettes are no different. Let’s explore this further, directing our focus to the measurement science and relevant standards.
Preventative Pipette Maintenance
Like your car, pipettes have many moving parts, including pistons, plungers, gears, seals and o-rings. These parts wear out and break down with continued use, impacting your measurement performance and leading to poor test results, delays, rework, and waste. Regular calibration, repair and preventative maintenance are each critical requirements for maintaining high measurement performance and preventing costly pipetting errors.
Just as a poorly maintained car will give you lousy gas mileage no matter the skill of the driver, even the most skilled pipette user will produce inaccurate results with a poorly maintained pipette. The best way to ensure pipette measurement accuracy and reliability is with a regular service program from a pipette calibration provider that complies with the principles and standards of ISO8655:2002.
ISO Standards: 8655 vs. 17025
The well know ISO17025 standard requires adherents to document internal processes and develop systems so that the processes are always followed, but it doesn’t have anything to say about how good and effective those processes are. In fact since 17025 is device independent it cannot dictate the best calibration methods for the very broad & diverse range of devices it covers: pipettes, electronic equipment, scales, etc. That is what ISO8655-2 was designed for as it defines specific, best practices for piston pipettes calibration even detailing metrological requirements and maximum permissible errors.
R&D laboratories apply novel scientific discoveries to development new treatments, therapies and diagnostic capabilities. To bring these developments to market, their test results must prove reproducible, the very foundation of science. Therefore, a scientist’s ability to control the variables that affect pipette measurement performance is paramount. Along with regular training to develop skilled pipette users, pipetting precision requires the trust and integrity of an accredited and ISO8655 compliant calibration laboratory and the controls and standards they maintain.
Government regulating bodies such as FDA, CLIA or CAP require labs to comply with quality and industry standards, or face rejection. For example, good manufacturing practices (cGMP), a process standard to which labs are held accountable to, aims to ensure proper integrity of products or test results. Pipette calibration service providers for these labs are also held accountable to these standards. It is this compliance that ensures calibration quality, data integrity and performance reliability. Ensuring they conform to ISO8655 standards for pipette calibration is the best way to ensure your pipette’s accuracy and precision.
It’s Just Good Science
Measurement standards and controls are designed to separate valid processes from invalid processes. With pipette calibration, the standards and controls in ISO8655 provide the best assurance of pipette accuracy, while reducing your risk for pipetting errors and the downstream costs associated with them. So, whether your lab is regulated or R&D, choosing standards-based pipette calibration can improve performance and reduce cost. Choosing ISO8655 compliant calibration service is just good science.