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It’s easy to line up a list of GC–MS instruments and rank them by price, sensitivity, or if they have a specific feature you’re looking for, but there are some factors that go into a purchase of this size you would do well to consider.
1) How much downtime is too much?
Every instrument is going to have some inevitable downtime, whether it’s from standard maintenance, hardware changes, system tunings, or unfortunate breakdowns. Look for instruments and support packages that actively work to minimize downtime, such as easily accessible parts, ion sources that don’t get dirty, automatic system tuning, or quality control checks you can pre-schedule to be finished before you come into the lab, and timely service responses.
2) How much do you want to spend on consumables?
Whether it’s helium gas or delicate columns, every GC–MS instrument has a secondary cost of consumables. Instruments that have automatic standby methods or are engineered for complete synergy with their consumables will ultimately cost you less in the long run.
3) How much manual management of your data is acceptable?
Imagine how much real work you could get done if you didn’t have to manage the various files of your project yourself, or if you could click a but- ton and have the software handle the simple work of checking library values and reporting back identifications with accurate levels of confidence. When researching GC–MS instruments, look for software that can take the busywork out of analyses. Database-driven software that can handle the metadata and link files together saves you from opening multiple files to check on the method used, while a system that can do a full-spectrum scan means you don’t need to rerun your samples if the scope of your analysis changes.
4) How can the system grow?
There are always new advancements in science, and cutting-edge technology today can be obsolete tomorrow. Look for instruments with upgrades and options that will allow you to expand your abilities, such as upgrades from GC to GCxGC, without needing to expand your vendor list.