Success story: How we solved the bench space equation in a lab!

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Courtesy of LNI Swissgas

Problem Overview

Nowadays laboratories are equipment intensive and require as much bench space as possible.

Recently, our company has being challenged by a lab manager of a primary Italian food industry to find a solution for his saturated lab bench. Among several devices, about 13 GC-FID’s are working with several gas generators. The initial choice for having on-site gas generation was motivated by cost savings, safety improvement and a more convenient supply of gas than the traditional and heavy logistics gas cylinders management.

But it became evident that the efficiency and productivity of the lab reached a limit as the bench occupation became fully saturated and also because of the higher demand of analytical data. As a lab requires a more complex infrastructure than an office, the expansion into an existing building was found to be very difficult and expensive.

Solving the Equation

The lab manager was looking to improve the situation and sat 3 goals: 

  • 1st, develop compact instruments and accessories able to recover space in the lab
  • 2nd, maintain analytical instruments full performances by providing a continuous, reliable and high purity hydrogen and air supply for GC-FID’s
  • 3rd, provide an industrial solution within only few weeks after the problem statement

Intensive talks and exchanges were done between three partners: the lab manager, the R&D team and a large manufacturer company of lab instrumentation. 

The evaluation was done during several weeks where the impact of the prototype was evaluated through several parameters, among them: analytical performances, integration in the lab, maintenance, cost of ownership.

The solution, the FID-Station plus

The R&D team investigated and developed a solution based on horizontality, meaning that stacking devices will avoid further bench space “consumption”.

The proven gas generation technology of the company, for hydrogen and air, was used and configured into a flat concept. The enclosure includes a 7 liters water tank for an autonomy of up to 6 months for unattended gas generation when connected to an FID. The innovative and patented design allows to position any GC device above the gas generator. 

Different versions of the generator provide hydrogen flow up to 600 ml/min at grade 6.0 (99.9999%) purity when for air 1500 ml/min with HC below 50 ppb. If not enough, several generators are connected (cascading-mode) for a total hydrogen production being the sum of each unit.

Conclusion

There was full acceptance of the solution provided and no drawbacks were identified during the validation period. The impact on the lab was considered positive and the prototype was kept in place for continuous operation. 

For two old generation gas generators, the footprint corresponding to one analytical device is released.

The solution presents a three-fold benefit when compared with labs using or not on-site gas generation: space saving, cost-effective and safety improvement.  Discussions have now started to have a worldwide implementation of this concept in different plants of the company.

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