ion-chromatographyThe smart home revolution has taken off. For those of you who do not know what a smart home is, it’s essentially a home where entertainment systems, lights, thermostats, are more connected through a home WiFi network. If you like the convenience of controlling these devices all from your tablet or smartphone, a smart home can make your life easier. Who can’t use more convenience in their life?

However, convenience represents only part of the benefit story. I’d argue that these types of devices or services make you better prepared for the day and accelerate your productivity. For example, I ask my smart speaker about the weather forecast and the top news highlights for the day as I get dressed. It’s a silly example but it does help me to avoid freezing in the cold, which can really tank my productivity, (I’m a California gal) and saves me time so I can multitask while I get dressed for work.

Let’s take off our consumer hat and step into the laboratory. Today, Thermo Fisher Scientific has launched the Thermo Scientific Dionex ICS-6000 HPIC system. This ion chromatography system comes equipped with a tablet interface, the ability to use IC PEEK Viper Fittings, automated consumables tracking and a service featured called Unity ™ Remote Services.  I’ve been a big fan of the ion chromatography consumables tracking feature as you will notice in my past blog post, “Stalking Your IC Consumables From Installation to Retirement.” The ability to automate tracking of consumables usage and performance metrics eliminates errors associated with manual tracking. If you are curious to learn more about specific scenarios that your laboratory may find itself where the Consumables Device Monitor can be of benefit, I recommend reading this informative whitepaper, “The Case For Automated Tracking of IC Consumables.”

Talk about modern features that make your life in the laboratory more convenient! If your computer is far from your instrument, having the ability to monitor sample runs from your tablet only makes your system easier to operate. What about having Viper Fittings? Conventional fittings can increase dead volume by incorrect positioning of the ferrule. With Viper Fittings, you can say hello to virtually zero dead volume because these fittings ensure a correct tubing face seal. Not to mention….no more ferrules flying off! This is almost as amazing as when I ask my Amazon Echo to play a song that I want to hear. Zero time spent searching on my smartphone.

There are also clear productivity enhancements with the introduction of the Dionex ICS-6000 HPIC system. For example, the Unity™ Remote Services feature enables Unity Lab Services Technical Support to remotely analyze instrument performance data on a periodic basis. A proprietary software application will provide this data to a secure server and database. Why is this a big deal? With technical support personnel able to remotely assess any possible instrument performance related issues in a predictive manner, ion chromatography system downtime can be minimized.

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I recently read an informative case study about the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS). One of the challenges UMBS faced was having a service engineer come out to look at instrument issues which took both time and cost the lab about $10,000 per call due to their remote location. Using the Unity Remote Services features enables UMBS to monitor instrument and consumable usage which boosted system uptime and minimized service-related call costs.

“ Enabling Unity Remote Services provided our lab with enhanced technical support and access to critical data dashboards for instrument performance and consumable usage. We now have the data needed to drive budgeting decisions, protect our equipment and improve customer service.”

– Tim Veverica, Manager, University of Michigan Biological Station

            Despite the smart home revolution taking off, there are many consumers who still have a lot of questions about how these smart devices work and if they should have any security concerns. I’m glad that Thermo Fisher anticipated these same types of questions coming from ion chromatography users. They have put together a handy FAQs document  as well as an overview  about how they provide secure remote service and support features to address security concerned laboratory requirements. You can access these resources here.

With that, I’ll leave you to check out some of these informative resources as I ponder what the next smart device will be. I could also just ask my smart speaker….