Agilent Blog

Maintaining and Improving the Quality of Microplates

Posted by Steve Fillers on Feb 8, 2017 10:06:51 AM

Interview with Lorraine Galica, Quality Manager

Lorraine Galica manages a large group of people and activities that contribute to the quality aspects of the microplate products at Agilent Technologies. A look from her perspective underscores the focus the Quality group has in exceeding customers’ expectations.

Agilent_Quality_Management_blog.jpgWhat are the goals of the Quality group for microplates?

Maintaining and improving the quality of Agilent microplates is the primary goal of my group. It is an extremely dynamic task because:

  1. Quality improvements constantly modify our standard measurement processes.
  2. The emphasis on developing new custom microplates constantly expands the evaluation metrics and often pushes specifications to the limits of what is possible.
  3. Nature is always working against your efforts to maintain consistent levels of production quality.

How do industry standards impact your activities?

The ANSI/SLAS standards for microplates have been a tremendous help in creating the baselines for microplate designs. New custom microplate specifications have an established starting point, but many of our customers have needs that are not covered by, or exceed, the published standards. This translates into custom quality specifications for each custom microplate! We are constantly learning, developing, and training new quality measurement techniques.

We have an advantage in that our molding operations and our assembly areas are certified cleanrooms. These cleanroom areas are monitored daily for particle counts and temperature and humidity to ensure consistent high quality and cleanliness across our finished products. This eliminates many variables that can influence standard quality. We have been ISO9001 since 2002, resulting in the development of a culture of continuous improvement in consistency of process and product quality.

How has the acquisition by Agilent Technologies impacted your efforts?

The transition from Seahorse Bioscience to Agilent Technologies has been helped by the fact that the two companies were so similar in operating values. From a quality viewpoint, the cultural similarity is best exemplified by the shared goal of earning customer loyalty through meeting and exceeding customer expectations.

What are the structural components of the Quality operations?

Manufacturing is monitored by Quality inspections in order to rapidly identify and correct any deviations from the desired conditions. This is done continuously throughout our manufacturing process:

  1. Incoming inspection focuses on making sure we have the right materials.
  2. In-process testing uses automated measuring systems to confirm physical measurements conform to customer specification, as well as ANSI/SLAS microplate standards. Visual inspections are continually performed throughout the process to detect and contain any undesirable affects from the molding process (such as bubbles, flash, cracks, and flow lines).
  3. Finished product inspection ensures that product packaging and labels are per customer expectations.

Could you describe Quality components that exist beyond manufacturing?

Our Quality team is comprised of skilled people who enjoy what they do. They have enormous pride in confirming that our products are exactly what everyone expects them to be. 

  1. Technical Information Support personnel help facilitate the translation of developing new products into manufacturing bill of materials, routings, and ability to move products within the data system.
  2. Internal ISO audits are driven by the Quality team, and volunteers complete the assignments to fulfil this element of ISO9001.
  3. Our ERP system (SAP) is used to track the calibration and preventive maintenance of all equipment and measuring devices, and this is overseen by our Quality Calibration Technician.
  4. Customer complaints are tracked and investigated by Quality personnel. This includes any issues of customer dissatisfaction, whether it is supplier, packaging, customer use, or even problems in transportation. These issues are investigated to determine root cause and to provide corrective action.

Our company focus on quality positively impacts attitudes of all employees during their everyday work. Our employees know that that our products are supporting research aimed at improving life on the planet. They understand that quality products accelerate research, which in turn, will increase customer demand for the work that they enjoy.

These are some of the necessary protocols we adhere by to ensure the quality of microplates. Consider microplates from Agilent Technologies for your microplate needs. Download our Optimized Microplate Solutions brochure to learn more about how we can make your innovative ideas a reality.

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Topics: Microplates, Microplate