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Safe Cooling – Why’s the Lab So Quiet?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking about the benefit we provide purely in technical and financial terms. Analytes, throughput, cost per sample, re-runs, competitive advantage, opportunity costs etc etc. As a for-profit company made up predominantly of technically literate scientists, that’s hardly surprising.

Sometimes, however, things crop up that remind us of softer, less tangible markers of success.

During a routine follow-up call, we heard about how an Anatune customer was getting on with their GERSTEL Cryostatic Cooling Device (CCD2). For some background, it’s a bench-top cryostatic cooling device that uses ethanol to provide cryogen-free cooling to temperatures as low as -40˚. It’s not right for everyone but for flavour extraction purposes it’s proving to be a solid, low maintenance option.

Fairly unassuming on the face of it.

The CCD2 provides sub-ambiant trapping of analytes in dynamic headspace. As expected, it’s been providing them with good, reliable temperature control in both the thermal desorption unit and cooled inlet systems.

But it wasn’t the analytical capabilities that attracted them the most to the CCD2. They were very excited by how much liquid nitrogen they would save and how much nicer it made working in the lab without a dewar vessel hissing and chuffing in the background all day.

No more hauling dewars in the lift, then racing them up the stairs. No more loud tttssssssh of Liquid Nitrogen going into an instrument. No more fear of the cylinder venting fully in an enclosed space reducing oxygen below safe levels. In short, this unassuming bench top box has made a significant impact on the working enjoyment of 4 or 5 people.

It seems that so much of the conversation surrounding the investment in analytical instrumentation focuses purely on the arms race of good results as fast as possible for the cheapest price with little regard to the potential human benefit of innovation.

Most modern managers espouse the principles of marginal gains with regards to profit maximisation but how many apply the same rigour to the long-term qualitative benefit of their working environments?

This might be a stretch for this blog but it’d be interesting to quantify the long-term correlations that seemingly innocuous investments have on things like staff retention, job satisfaction and ultimately – profitability.

We’d love to hear some of the unexpected benefits you’ve experienced from your technological investments. Let us know.

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