Multi-Channel Pipettor QC Trends 2014
This market report summarizes the results of HTStec's industry-wide global web-based benchmarking survey on multi-channel pipettor QC carried out in April 2014.
The study was undertaken independently by HTStec as part of its tracking of emerging life science markets.
Multi-channel pipettors are essential tools in most life science laboratories today. Yet the impact of undertaking quality control (QC) measures (e.g. to verify the accuracy and precision of the volume dispensed) on improving data quality, enhancing productivity/efficiency and reducing experimental failures has only relatively recently been recognized. Understanding how lab users approach the issue of pipettor QC is important as the industry struggles to adopt standards for automated pipetting.
The objectives were to understand end-user opinion on the implementation of QC measures when using multi-channel pipettors and to track the increasing use of/interest in dispense verification systems.
The results of this survey are intended to be used by pipettor/liquid handling manufacturers and dispense verification providers to help them understand the needs of end-users to ensure customer success.
The questionnaire was compiled by HTStec to meet the needs and interests of the vendor community.
Equal emphasis was given to soliciting opinion from persons using multi-channel pipettors and interested in QC and dispensing verification in all aspects of life science research.
The survey looked at the following aspects of multi-channel pipettor QC as practiced today (2014) and in a few cases as predicted for the future (2016): the application areas that best describes respondent's use of multi-channel pipettors; importance placed on multi-channel pipettor QC; main motivators to implement or perform regular multi-channel pipettor QC; how pipettor QC is routinely undertaken today; aspects of pipettor QC that are routinely checked/verified; frequency of undertaking pipettor QC; happiness with what is generally available for determining multi-channel pipettor QC; biggest limitations/problems posed by existing pipettor QC methods/systems; awareness of any promising home-brew methodologies for pipettor QC; use of known commercial products for pipettor QC; type of hand-held and automated multi-channel pipettors respondents most want to QC/verify; reasonable and maximum price-points to perform dye-based pipettor QC in house; are commercial systems value for money; level of spending allocated to multi-channel pipettor QC; breakdown of multi-channel pipettor QC budget; likelihood of purchasing a system to enable multi-channel pipettor QC; use of fee-for-service providers to calibrate/verify multi-channel pipettor dispensing; main motivators for using a fee-forservice provider; likelihood will outsource multi-channel pipettor QC; awareness of a pipettor's calibration certificate, manufacturer's recommendations for pipettor QC and how pipettor manufacturers should support QC; respondents under pressure to implement pipettor QC; any good reason not to implement pipettor QC; how upfront investment costs of implementing pipettor QC are justified; would an ISO standard for automated pipettor systems and their QC make any difference to respondent's work; putting pipetting QC in context of the overall error/variability in a biological assay; and any unmet needs in multi-channel pipettor QC that respondents would like to see addressed by service providers.
The main questionnaire consisted of 27 multi-choice questions and 1 open-ended question. In addition, there were 6 questions related solely to survey demographics.
The survey collected 68 validated responses, of these 74% provided comprehensive input.
Survey responses were geographically split: 43% Europe; 38% North America; 7% Japan; 6% Asia (excluding Japan & China); 4% Rest of World; and 2% China.
Respondents came from 14 University; 8 Biotech Company - Established; 8 Research Institute; 7 Large Pharma; 6 Medical School/Hospital/Clinic; 6 Other; 5 Contract Research Organization; 4 Medium-Small Pharma; 4 Government Laboratory; 4 Biotech Company - Startup; 2 Diagnostics Company; and 2 Academic Screening Center.
Most survey respondents had a senior job role or position which was in descending order: 14 research scientists/associates; 11 lab managers; 9 senior scientists/researchers; 7 professors/assistant professors; 6 principal investigators; 4 section/group leaders; 4 directors; 4 others; 3 graduate students/PhD students; 3 post-docs; 2 instrument support staff; and 1 department head.
Survey results were expressed as an average of all survey respondents. In addition, where appropriate the data was fully reanalyzed after sub-division into the 5 survey groups: 1) Pharma Labs; 2) Applied Labs; 3) Academic Labs; 4) Europe; & 5) North America.
The main application area of most respondent's pipettor QC was pharmaceutical/drug discovery research.
The majority placed high importance on multi-channel pipettor QC today.
To improve data quality was ranked the biggest motivator to perform regular multi-channel pipettor QC.
The majority reported that gravimetric analysis was the pipettor QC method most routinely undertaken today.
The majority reported that accuracy was the pipettor QC most routinely checked/verified.
The median frequency of undertaking multi-channel pipettor QC was once every 6 months.
The majority were happy with what is generally available today for determining multi-channel pipettor QC.
Complexity of process/too labour and time intensive was the major limitation posed by existing pipettor QC methods/systems.
The majority were not aware of any promising homebrew technology for multi-channel pipettor QC.
Only a minority of respondents had used or were using any commercial products for pipettor QC.
The multi-channel pipettor most respondents want to verify/QC were hand-held 8-channel pipettors.
The median pricing to perform dye-based QC in house on an 8-channel pipettor was $2.50 reasonable price and $20.00 maximum price for all 8 channels. Pricing for 12-, 96- and 384-channels pipettors are also reported.
Most respondents thought commercial products/systems for pipettor QC were not good value for money i.e. they were too expensive and they would not purchase.
The median annual budget allocated for multi-channel pipettor QC today (2014) was $2.5K-$5K.
The breakdown of this budget in components was reported. Greatest spending was currently allocated to outsourced calibration/verification/QC.
The median likelihood respondents will purchase a system to enable multi-channel pipettor QC over the next 2 years was unlikely (0%-10% probability).
The majority have used a fee-for-service provider to calibrate/verify multi-channel pipettor dispensing.
Provider will also service and repair faulty pipettor was ranked the biggest motivator for considering using a fee-for-service provider to calibrate/verify multi-channel pipettor dispensing.
The median likelihood respondents will outsource multi-channel pipettor QC to a fee-for-service provider over the next 2 years was quite possibly (10-50% probability).
The majority of respondents have seen their pipettor's calibration certificate(s).
The majority were not aware of any pipettor manufacturer's recommendations for QC.
The majority think all automated multi-channel pipettors should come with QC recommendations.
The majority reported they were not under pressure to implement pipettor QC and indicated it was up to their lab when or if we do QC.
The majority were not aware of any good reason why their lab or organization will not implement pipettor QC.
Most respondents would not attempt to justify the investment cost associated with implementing pipettor QC i.e. purchasing a multi-channel pipetting verification system.
The single action respondents would like pipettor manufacturers to take with respect to supporting QC was to be more proactive in helping end-users QC/verify dispensing instruments themselves.
The majority reported that an ISO standard for automated pipettors and their QC would make no difference to them and their work.
To put pipettor QC in context respondents ranked the biology (not dispensing) as the biggest source of error/variability in a biological assay.
A bottom up model developed using respondent data derived from this survey estimated the global market for multi-channel pipettor QC to be around $40M in 2014. The breakdown of this market into components and estimates for the future (2016) are given in the full report.
Some unmet needs in multi-channel pipettor QC that respondents would like addressed by the industry were documented.
The full report provides the data, details of the breakdown of the responses for each question, its segmentation and a few estimates for the future (2016). It also highlights some interesting differences between the survey groups.
This report relates to both hand-held and automated multi-channel pipettors.