Today's analytical laboratories require universal, flexible and open software solutions to cope with the ever changing needs. This report illustrates how these requirements for chromatographic data processing software can be met in different types of laboratories.
Acquisition and Processing of Chromatography Data
In former times an analytical chemist spent most of the time with the analysis itself. Today acquisition and processing of the analytical data are the most time consuming processes. Very often new instruments come with their own external software, which has to be learned, validated and integrated into the processes of the laboratory. This produces high permanent costs for software training and management and the integration of different data formats into your system. Such a waste of resources is no longer adequate due to the central role automated data processing and application software play in our laboratories today.
Instead universal, flexible and open software solutions are needed which follow established software engineering standards and comply national and international standards like ISO 13885 and ASTM D5296-97. A modern chromatography software package communicates with a variety of laboratory devices and data systems from different manufacturers and allows the acquisition and combined processing of all the data. An example which meets these requirements is the PSS WinGPC Unity, a Macromolecu-lar Chromatography Data System (MGDS).
Evaluation of the Laboratory Software Requirements
The implementation of software requirements for different size laboratories will be discussed by presenting four examples. Those illustrate how the general requirements for chromatography software can be met in various environments. Stable and reliable data acquisition is the most important concern. Additionally, software solutions should be available for stand-alone workstations and networks alike. Another important aspect is the flexibility (supported computer and operating systems) and adaptability of the data system to laboratory conditions (mainly requirements of instruments and the associated methods). The adaptability of the software allows the processing of data from different detectors without tedious data import or export procedures. The modular structure minimizes the training period for users. The user interface only provides the functions which are needed for the actual task. Another advantage of a modular setup is the seamless integration of new functionality whenever needed.
Independent from the size of the data system used, experience shows that the validation of a software package is often one of the biggest problems for end users. Therefore not only users working in regulated and controlled laboratories expect software which is easy to validate. The compliance with all national and international regulations for data acquisition and processing (ISO, ASTM, DIN, Pharmacopoeia, etc.) is also of great importance. These requirements are much easier to meet with an integrated chromatography software solution than with several different packages. The comprehensive validation of PSS WinGPC Unity offers not only solutions for standard systems and methods but also for highly sophisticated systems with special detectors like light scattering and on-line systems can be easily checked on-site any time in any laboratory using WinGPC's AutoVal tool.