Blends are a simple way to improve productivity, efficiency and safety

With the ever-increasing focus on laboratory efficiency, there is a way to improve the productivity of your analysts and technicians; reduce chemical inventories and minimise costs; and make your laboratory a much safer place to work: using custom and standard blends.

As more businesses move away from in-house formulation, we follow the process through the lab to see why blends are the best choice every step of the way.

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Save time and effort

There’s a whole host of reasons why creating your own blends is time and labour intensive. First, you must buy all the separate ingredients, adding to your inventory, that then need to be stored in their specified places in your lab. When a blend is required, your analyst must retrieve the ingredients, which often aren’t stored together. Then all the materials including the glassware must be gathered and the preparation protocol needs to be consulted to prepare the reagent. Next, the ingredients need to be measured or weighed. If a balance is used, that may need calibrating to ensure an accurate reading. Then all the ingredients need to be mixed. For pH adjustments, pH probes will need calibrating.

Custom blends help you reduce time, effort and wastage, leaving your staff free to focus on activities that really add value to your business

Next, your analyst needs to transfer the mixture into a bottle and label it. Now it’s almost ready to use, but often this can only happen following a suitability test to ensure the prepared mixture does exactly what it’s intended to do. Afterwards, your analyst needs to clean up the equipment, put everything away and write up any necessary documentation.

Many would say that this whole process is a poor use of your staff’s time and expertise. Surely their time is better spent conducting analysis, carrying out research, performing quality control and other high-end work? The solution is clear. By eliminating the need for manual blending, your laboratory can redeploy resources to more value-added activities, enabling you to reach your scientific and technical goals.

Reduce waste

As well as minimising time wasted on low-end work, using custom blends can help you to reduce material wastage. No more formulation mistakes caused by human error, resulting in spoilt batches. Cut the high cost of disposal due to the hazardous nature of many chemical products. Reduce your chemical inventories and the administration that comes with them.

Using blends also eliminates wastage associated with disposable materials used during the preparation process, such as pipettes and weighing boats.

Improve safety

Ingredients used for blends are usually in concentrated form and every time chemicals are mixed in the lab there is an opportunity for a spill. This brings additional risk for your staff and they must be extra vigilant in what is potentially a very hazardous environment.

Eliminating this process immediately creates a much safer work environment. With fewer materials and less preparation required, custom blends reduce the risks associated with storing, handling, blending and disposing of hazardous solvents, acids and other chemicals. They also remove the need for documenting important safety information. Blends provided by leading manufacturers include a full safety analysis. Honeywell, for example, provides a safety data sheet for every blended product, providing everything you need to know.

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Consistent quality

So if you want to maximise efficiency and improve productivity, it’s worth considering if preparing blended reagents yourself really is the best method. Achieving consistency and precisely delivered blends with the same purity from batch to batch can be challenging. Leading manufacturers use specialised equipment that eliminates the scope for human error and ensures batches are always consistent and quality assured.

Producing blends on a commercial scale also dramatically reduces the margin for error. For instance, Honeywell carries out rigorous quality control testing before providing every blend with a certificate of analysis, so you’ll save time when it comes to documentation.

If you have laboratories in multiple locations, custom blends can benefit you too. You will always receive the same blend from one production batch, shipped to each location. This ensures you use exactly the same reagent blend in all laboratories and provides greater harmonisation across different sites carrying out the same analysis.

Good for the environment

There are many reasons why custom blends are more environmentally friendly. You’ll never have to throw away a bad batch due to measurement mistakes and you can order as little or as much as you need, eliminating waste. In addition, Honeywell’s high-precision blending apparatus operates in a closed loop environment, limiting exposure to the atmosphere during the blending process to minimise risk of environmental contamination.