Overview

PCS® Overview

The PCS is a fast, accurate, and precise system for verifying the volume dispensed from any single-channel pipette and calibrating single-channel pipettes. Portable and easy-to-use, the system is ready wherever and whenever you need it. Its ease of use and immediate volume feedback make the PCS ideally suitable for pipette technique training and operator competency assessments.

Because the system uses ratiometric photometry and standardized dye solutions to determine the dispensed volumes, it is robust against differences in environmental conditions. Calibration results are traceable,1 enabling straightforward comparison of pipettes, operators, methods, and locations.


Fast, Precise Calibration

Perform a 10-data-point calibration, complete with documentation, in less than 3 minutes.

step_1
1. Initiate
Using the PCS Software, select a pipette or operator to begin calibration or competency assessment.
step_2
2. Dispense
Pipette sample into the cuvette. Results for each dispense are displayed within the software.
step_2
3. Report
Digitally review, approve and sign-off on calibrations and operator assessments.


Optimize Pipetting Technique

  • Perform fast and easy pipette calibrations and interim performance verifications
  • Improve pipetting proficiency and standardize technique with immediate feedback
  • Calibrate pipettes in the location and environment where they are used
  • Verify pipette performance immediately before critical procedures and assays
  • Verify pipette calibration following outsourced service
  • Quickly check a pipette when a problem is suspected
  • Schedule and document regular operator competency assessments

1. Traceable to the International System of Units (SI) through reference standards developed and maintained by NIST (USA) and NPL (UK).

Features

PCS® Features

PCS Instrument

Out-performs other calibration methods in consistency, speed, simplicity, accuracy and precision — even at volumes as low as 0.1 µL.

  • Calibration of single channel pipettes from 0.1 to 5,000 µL in less than three minutes
  • Automatic accuracy and precision calculations
  • Complete documentation and data management, including calibration audit trail, automatic printing of calibration labels, and trend analysis with graphical reporting
  • Compact, portable instrument requiring minimal bench space and no special facilities or environmental controls
  • Results traceable to national (NIST) and international standards
  • Full compliance with 21 CFR Part 11, ISO 8655-7, CLIA, and more
  • Method conforms to CLSI and the latest ISO standard (8655-7)

PCS Reagents

Includes everything needed to begin working with the system.pcs-reagents

  • Includes everything needed to begin working with the system.
  • PCS Bulk Reagent Kit is customized to suit your pipette population.
  • PCS Instrument Calibrator Kit ensures performance—no need to return the PCS instrument for calibration.

PCS Software

The PCS Software facilitates the highest standard of quality control with simplicity.  The Software provides scheduling for pipette calibrations and interim performance verifications; complete documentation and pipette inventory management – and is ideal for standardizing pipetting technique and assessing operator competency.

  • Intuitive dashboard provides immediate overview of due calibrations and operator assessments
  • Digital review and approval workflow
  • Reporting, including audit trail and printing of calibration labels

Additional features include

  • Dashboard with complete overview for managing and reviewing status and test results of pipettes and operators
  • Scheduling of pipette calibrations and interim performance verifications
  • Scheduling of operator competency assessments
  • Immediate display and automatic storage of volumetric results
  • Assigns pass/fail results based on tolerances set forth in your SOPs, ISO 8655, or manufacturer’s specifications
  • Catalog of most common pipette models and manufacturer’s specifications
  • Printing of pipette calibration and bar code labels
  • Manages pipette inventory and status tracking
  • Email notifications for calibrations, competency assessments, overdue tasks, and approval of test results
  • Digital review, approval and sign-off workflow
  • Customized user level controls
  • Electronic signatures
  • Complete audit trail
  • Facilitates compliance with 21 CFR part 11

On-site Installation, Validation, and Training

Artel technical experts make implementation fast, easy, and efficient, with minimal disruption to your routine.

  • Setup, installation, and validation for the PCS instrument
  • Hands-on instruction in the operation of the PCS instrument
  • Setup and hands-on training in the use of the PCS software

 

Software

PCS® Software

The PCS Software facilitates the highest standard of quality control with simplicity.  The Software provides scheduling for pipette calibrations and interim performance verifications; complete documentation and pipette inventory management – and is ideal for standardizing pipetting technique and assessing operator competency.


Key Capabilities

  • Intuitive dashboard provides immediate overview of due calibrations and operator assessments
  • Digital review and approval workflow
  • Reporting, including audit trail and printing of calibration labels

Features

  • Dashboard with complete overview for managing and reviewing status and test results of pipettes and operators
  • Scheduling of pipette calibrations and interim performance verifications
  • Scheduling of operator competency assessments
  • Immediate display and automatic storage of volumetric results
  • Assigns pass/fail results based on tolerances set forth in your SOPs, ISO 8655, or manufacturer’s specifications
  • Catalog of most common pipette models and manufacturer’s specifications
  • Printing of pipette calibration and bar code labels
  • Manages pipette inventory and status tracking
  • Email notifications for calibrations, competency assessments, overdue tasks, and approval of test results
  • Digital review, approval and sign-off workflow
  • Customized user level controls
  • Electronic signatures
  • Complete audit trail
  • Facilitates compliance with 21 CFR part 11

Specifications

PCS® Specifications

PCS Instrument
Volume Range  0.1 µL to 5000 µL
Inaccuracy  0.6%
Imprecision  0.3% CV
Wavelengths 520 nm and 730 nm
Operational Ambient Specifications Temperature: 15 °C to 30 °C
Relative Humidity: 10% to 90%, non-condensing
Size 22.4 cm x 33.0 cm x 14.7 cm (W x L x H)
Weight 5.7 kg (12.5 lbs.)
Electrical Power Requirements Voltage: 90 – 260 VAC
Frequency: 50 – 60 Hz
Current: 2 A maximum
Warranty 1 year

PCS Reagent Kit
Standard Bulk
Blank Vials 12 50
Data points per Blank Vial  Up to 40 Up to 40
Sample Solutions  Sample Solutions 1-4 included for
pipette volumes 2.0 – 5000 µL
(Additional solutions for pipette
volumes 0.1 – 1.9 µL available
separately)
Customized for each order
Calibration Standard 1 solution – not consumed during use 1 solution – not consumed during use
Shelf Life  Minimum of 9 months at 18 °C to 28 °C Minimum of 9 months at 18 °C to 28 °C

PCS Instrument Calibrator Kit
Calibration Standards 4 solutions; allows accuracy and noise testing
over the full range of volume measurements
Shelf Life Minimum of 9 months at 18 °C to 28 °C

Related Information

PCS® Related Information


Please note: The barcodes that are now on all Artel PCS consumables (Blank Solution Vials, Sample Solutions, Instrument Calibrator Vials) since July 2016 are only for use with the new PCS Software and not with Artel Pipette Tracker.  The PCS consumables continue to be fully compatible with all PCS instruments and Artel Pipette Tracker software.


Testimonials

In terms of pipette testing and staff training, the Artel PCS is second to none. Its accuracy and ease of use saves us valuable staff hours versus other pipette testing methods.
— Joel Rivero, University of Alberta Hospital 
We’re delighted our laboratory switched…
— Karen Villnave, ARUP Laboratories 
The PCS is very user friendly. It is easy and quick and we enjoy using it. The menu-driven instructions are clear. It is a great time saver.
— Judy Gaudet, Beckman-Coulter 
Your system is a big hit with the technicians. All who use the system find it to be user friendly and an instrument they want to have in their labs. From my professional and technical experience I feel it is a tool no laboratory should be without….
— Sgt L. Esquibel, Armed Forces Radio Biology Institute 
The Artel system is so easy; you hardly have to read the directions! It’s quick, easy and so much more enjoyable than the other system. We have been waiting two years to buy this – I have no regrets.
— Cindy White, Penobscot Bay Medical Center 
Our QC division uses the PCS for routine performance testing of pipettes… The documentation and NIST-traceable reagent qualification ensure GMP compliance.
— Chuck Phelps, Lilly 
During a recent CAP inspection . . . our inspector . . . said ‘you’re going to love it; the PCS reduced calibration time in our lab from seven hours to 30 minutes.’
— Janet Morris, Frye Regional Medical Center 
I never realized how valuable this piece of equipment would be to me and our other lab staff.
— Joseph Russeau, Contamination Studies Laboratories

FAQs

PCS® Frequently Asked Questions


What is the PCS?

PCS stands for Pipette Calibration System. The PCS consists of a high-sensitivity photometer, instrument calibrator solutions, sample solutions, and powerful software for managing the calibration and performance status of your organization’s entire pipette inventory. The PCS also manages and documents all aspects of your pipette operators’ performance assessments. The compact, portable PCS is relatively immune to environmental conditions and is easy to set up and use right in the laboratory where the pipettes are used. It can be used to measure dispensed volumes as low as 0.1µL and as high as 5,000 µL. PCS measurement results are traceable to SI units through calibration standards maintained by NIST (USA) and NPL (UK). Pipette calibrations and operator assessments performed with the PCS enable laboratories to comply with current regulatory requirements.

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How does the PCS work?

The system includes a state-of-the-art high-sensitivity photometer designed by Artel for the purpose of pipette calibration and a comprehensive software package to manage an organization’s complete pipette inventory and operator assessment needs.

Following a few simple steps, pipettes can be calibrated in minutes:

  • Set up the pipette in PCS Software
    • Choose a pipette make & model from the catalog of over 2000 pipettes, or create your own entry.
    • Specify the volumes at which the pipette needs to be checked.
    • Specify the pass/fail tolerances – choose from pipette manufacturer’s specs, ISO 8655 tolerances, or set your custom tolerances.
    • Specify schedules for full pipette calibrations, interim verifications, and quick checks – depending on your lab’s requirements.
    • Optional email notifications and reviewers can be specified.
  • Follow clear on-screen commands for testing the pipette:
    • Scan and insert a vial of blue solution (referred to as the “Blank”) into the PCS Instrument. Using the Blank, the instrument determines the vial pathlength.
    • With the pipette under test, pipette aliquots of the red Sample Solution into the Blank vial.
  • Solutions are automatically mixed by the PCS and the absorbance is read.
  • PCS Software will display the last dispensed volume as well as statistical data:
    • Last dispensed sample volume
    • Mean volume of all replicates
    • Inaccuracy from target volume
    • % CV (Precision)
  • A comprehensive calibration report will be automatically furnished upon conclusion of the calibration sequence.
  • An email will be sent to the reviewer who can approve or reject the calibration report electronically.

Operator Competency Assessments are performed in a similar way:

  • Set up the Operator in PCS Software
  • Create a Training Plan for the Operator
    • Specify the volumes for the assessment
    • Specify pass/fail criteria for the assessment
    • Specify the schedule for
      • operator competency assessments
      • guided training sessions
  • The operator will be guided by the software through each step, similar to the ones performed for a pipette calibration (see above).
  • An Operator Training Certificate will be furnished upon completion of the assessment.
  • An email will be sent to the reviewer indicating the completion of the competency assessment and requesting approval of the results.

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What are the advantages of using the PCS over competitors?

  • Calibrate pipettes under the exact conditions in which they are used, in the lab where they are used.
  • Perform operator competency assessments in the lab environment, in which pipette users work, with the actual pipettes used by the operators.
  • Powerful PCS Software manages the entire pipette inventory and operator assessments.
  • Audits become a breeze, as all pipette calibration and operator performance information is stored in one central, secure place.
  • Fast operation: a full pipette calibration with 3 x 10 data points takes only about 7 minutes to complete, including furnishing a calibration report.
  • User determines the schedule, test volumes, number of data points, and pass/fail tolerances – for pipette calibrations and operator assessments.
  • Lean, paperless workflow: user can set email alerts for due calibrations and skills assessments and review and approve/reject results electronically.
  • Excellent pipetting technique training tool.
  • PCS instrument is essentially maintenance free.
  • Ease of use: all calibration solutions are supplied ready-to-use, no need to prepare reagents or establish calibration curves.
  • Calibrate pipettes from 0.1 µL (100 nL) to 5,000 µL (5 mL).
  • System inaccuracy of 0.6%; system imprecision 0.3% CV.
  • Instrument works in a wide range of environmental conditions:
    • Temperature range: 15 oC to 30 oC
    • Relative humidity: 10% to 90%, non-condensing
  • Calibration method conforms to ISO 8655 part 7.
  • PCS measurement results are traceable to SI units through calibration standards maintained by NIST (USA) and NPL (UK).
  • The PCS can be used in 21 CFR Part 11 compliant facilities.
  • Makes regulatory compliance and audits easy.

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Can the PCS be validated?

Yes, a comprehensive Validation Guide is available to perform full IQ/OQ validations of the PCS instrument and PCS Software.

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Can the PCS be used to calibrate pipettor dispensers?

Some types can be calibrated. Need to evaluate individually.

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Can the PCS be used to calibrate pipettor dilutors?

Not at this time, but we are developing solutions for that application.

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Can you use the PCS reagents in your own spectrophotometer?

No, we use specialized reagents in a custom photometer design; PCS reagents, the PCS instrument, and PCS Software are created as a system to provide optimal ease-of-use, speed, accuracy and precision.

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Can the PCS be used to calibrate multichannel pipettes?

Yes, by calibrating 1 channel at a time. PCS Software allows the user to choose whether to follow ISO 8655 requirements (all channels need to be calibrated), or whether to calibrate individual channels only.

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Is the PCS approved by the FDA?

Because the PCS does not directly contact or measure human samples or specimens, the FDA will not consider it for approval. The PCS is manufactured under cGMP conditions side-by-side with other products which have FDA 510(k) approval.

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Are PCS results traceable?

Yes, PCS measurement results are traceable to the International System of Units (SI) through calibration standards maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST, USA) and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL, UK). All PCS calibration solutions are tested in Artel’s ISO 17025 accredited laboratory.

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What ranges (pipette sizes/volumes) can be calibrated?

0.1 μL (100 nL) to 5,000 μL (5 mL)

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Does the PCS require regular maintenance?

The PCS requires minimal maintenance, and is designed to avoid the need for most maintenance procedures. It requires only occasional cleaning of the outside of the cabinet or the bores of the vial block as detailed in the manual.

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Can an ISO/IEC 17025 or ISO 15189 Accredited Laboratory use the Artel PCS for pipette calibration and to demonstrate operator proficiency?

Yes, an Accredited Laboratory can use the PCS for both, pipette calibration and to demonstrate operator proficiency, by doing the following:

  • Purchase an Artel PCS along with the ISO 17025 PCS Instrument Calibration Certificate (PCS-410).
  • Purchase the PCS Calibrator Kit that includes the ISO 17025 Calibration Certificate (PCS-605).
  • Contact Artel for a detailed PCS Measurement Uncertainty Budget.
  • Follow the ISO 17025 requirements to implement test and/or calibration procedures, and ensure operators are trained and qualified.
  • Comply with any additional requirements imposed by your particular accreditation body.

Note 1: We suggest to contact your Accreditation Body early in the process, so they may advise of all particular requirements.

Note 2: The PCS employs a standard method, and as such is exempt from the method validation requirements of ISO 17025:2005, section 5.4.5.

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How can I try a PCS?

You may purchase a PCS with a 30-day money back satisfaction guarantee via credit card (MasterCard or VISA), check, money order, or wire transfer. Credit references may be required. You may also participate in an instrument trial, contact sales toll-free at 888-406-3463 for more information. Again, credit references may be required.

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How can I learn more about the PCS?

Contact Artel toll-free at 888-406-3463 and speak with one of our sales representatives.

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