UHPLC is a liquid chromatography technique that utilises at a higher-pressure than a conventional HPLC. To accommodate the higher pressures, different columns are utilised with smaller particle sizes, smaller inner diameters and smaller column lengths. Running your method at higher pressures results in:
- Improved separation with better resolution and sensitivity of your method, and
- Dramatically reduced runtimes with improved chromatography.
For a high throughput laboratory, running methods through UHPLC could save you substantial amounts of time. In addition, if your product isn’t separating well through HPLC, you can gain improved separation and resolution with UHPLC with a shorter run time.
To switch to UHPLC, you would use your existing method as a foundation. From this, you already understand your column chemistry, and therefore, you could update your column and optimise conditions. For example, you would already know your mobile phase and wavelength, but you would look at changing your flow rate to accommodate the different column dimensions. When you have completed development and validation of your new UHPLC method, as with all method updates, you would need to go through the necessary regulatory channels to such as applying for a variation to your marketing authorisation.
If you are in the market for a UHPLC, there are many different systems out there to choose from. Some are UHPLC only and some are hybrids which provide you with the option of both traditional HPLC and UHPLC functionality. Although the price of a UHPLC will be greater than a HPLC, the cost may be redeemed through time savings. Calculating a return on investment (ROI) to justify the purchase of a UHPLC can easily be done. Factors you will consider for your ROI calculations are current method run times, current throughput, current operational costs, potential reduced run times, increased throughput (which could also result in increased revenue) and potential operational costs (both short-term and long-term).
However, if you outsource the testing of your product, then your return on investment calculations will differ slightly in that you will not need to compare the time savings to the additional outlay of a UHPLC. As an outsourced service, your return on investment is calculated through the benefits of reliably meeting the demands of your supply chain through improved turnaround times due to reduced runtimes.