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Bringing Balance to the Lab

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It is an undeniable fact that the success of most experiments in R&D and analytical labs hinges on reliable weighing. It should go without saying that dependable lab balances are critical. However, during my research days, I was often amazed at how little focus is given to such a vital cog in the machine.

With a host of new features aimed at addressing the specific weighing needs of each lab, Sartorius recently launched a range of balances, the Cubis® II. We spoke to Dirk Ahlbrecht, Head of Product Management Lab Weighing at Sartorius to learn more about Cubis® II and how this aims to take the heavy lifting out of laboratory weighing.

Ash Board (AB): What are some of the new features of the Cubis® II and how do these enable researchers to overcome the common pain points associated with laboratory weighing?

Dirk Ahlbrecht (DA): Cubis® II balances have a number of new features that address the researchers’ needs.  Some of the key features include:

Customized Modularity
The Cubis® has an innovative and modular design and it comes with a broad selection of capacity and readability options, draft shield types, weighing pans and displays. With all of these options, users have access to thousands of possible hardware configurations to optimize their particular workflows. The initial hardware configuration can be enhanced over time with additional accessories and new software applications will be available.  This ensures long-term flexibility and adaptation to the evolving needs of the laboratory.

Powerful, Adaptable and Future Proof Software
A unique onboard QApp Center allows creation of weighing tasks or installation of function extensions.  Customers opting for a QApp package will receive all updates and new applications for that package.  In this way, we ensure a future proof solution.

Gesture Control
The gesture sensor is always a highlight for customers. It recognizes four gestures and can be positioned near the balance, directly in the flow of motion at the workspace. By using this feature, the user can open and close the automatic draft shield, start the ionizer, or send a document to a device.

Automatic, Motorized Leveling
The Cubis® II balance‘s quick and easy, motorized, auto-leveling function which allows users to avoid the tedious process of preparing the balance for use.

Seamless Connectivity

Cubis® II balances are easily integrated with laboratory software and LIMS systems, eliminating the need for separate software island and the LIMS/data collection software connectivity ensures data accuracy.

Confident Compliance
Cubis® II balances fulfill all requirements for use in fully compliant processes for regulated markets such as pharmaceutical and biotechnology and applied markets such as environmental, food and beverage, medical, chemical and automotive. The Cubis® II is the first balance to support all the requirements to achieve 21 CFR part 11 and EU annex 11 compliance in a paperless manner, eliminating the possibility of process data or signature falsification. The balances also ensure an authenticated electronic record from data acquisition to analysis. And finally, control over user access levels and protocols, including the ability to pull logins directly from the user’s LIMS system, ensures traceability and limits potential errors.

AB: The data generated by the Cubis® II follows the key principles of ALCOA (+), which defines data integrity standards. How does the data generation adhere to these principles?

DA: Sartorius implemented solutions for this principle in the Cubis® II. In Cubis® II we offer solutions for access management (users and passwords including single sign-on LDAP) as well as an audit trail including archiving function, electronic signatures, and printing of metadata. The only topic we do not address is long term storage of data as this cannot be done in a balance but appropriate database systems that customers usually already have. Cubis® II offers the connectivity to connect to those database /ELN, LIMS systems.

AB: How much of an issue is data integrity in laboratory weighing? Is there now an expectation from customers that all of their laboratory processes are traceable?

DA: Data Integrity is one of the biggest compliance topics over the past couple of years. In 2017, a high number of all warning letters from the FDA were related to data integrity. Customers in highly regulated industries must have traceable processes in all aspects of their laboratories, including weighing.

AB: The Cubis® II offers a number of QApp Packages. Can you explain a little more about QApps and how do you support customers looking to add new applications?

DA: QApp packages will be updated and upgraded through at least one new software release per year. As such, customers will get access to new QApps or upgraded functionality in QApps. We will also add new applications (new QApps).

If the customer is interested in additional QApps our balances feature an on-board QApp Center. Each balance is delivered with a set of pre-installed QApps that are clustered by topics into packages. For each package and QApp a description plus screenshots is available in the QApp Center. With this information, the customer can decide if the package or application meets his requirements. If they are interested the customer can start a 30-day trial phase to test the QApp and if happy with the application, they can purchase a license code. If modifications are requested we can offer to program a customized QApp.

Dirk Ahlbrecht was speaking to Ash Board PhD, Editorial Director for Technology Networks.