Daily startup and daily shutdown can be performed only when the instrument is going to be used. However, weekly maintenance should be performed every week, whether the instrument is used or not. As with any automated instrument, if the AIMS® system left is idle, it will still have distilled water in the lines and that can, over time, promote bacterial or fungal growth which will be visible by a discoloration of the tubing. Once this occurs, new tubing needs to be installed on the instrument. Therefore, as a safety and proactive measure, weekly maintenance should be performed every week regardless if the instrument is being used or not. In addition, system fluid filters should still be replaced every three months. On average, Daily Start-Up and Daily Shutdown take 15 minutes to perform, each. A weekly maintenance is more in-depth, and therefore takes an average of 30 minutes to complete. Performing maintenance as instructed will ensure the AIMS® system continues to perform at its optimal level with every run completed.
The instrument uses system fluid, not only to clean the four probes at the programmed steps, but also to drive the fluidics of the instrument. Once the system fluid is depleted in the fluid lines, pipetting will not occur properly. Not having proper fluidics cannot assure proper aspiration and dispensing of reagents. In addition, the probes could have possibly gone into various reagents and samples without being properly washed, which may result in cross contamination of the samples and reagents.
The AIMS® supports multiple tube sizes. They range from 10-16mm in diameter and 55-100mm in height. False bottom tubes and tubes that are too small they cannot be held in place by the four prongs inside the sample rack (pediatric tubes) cannot be used on the AIMS®. Each probe on the AIMS® has a liquid sensor, which enables it to detect ionic solutions upon contact. The liquid level detector (LLD) monitors changes in capacitance between the pipetting tip and the AIMS® worktable. When the pipetting tip touches the liquid surface, the change in capacitance generates a signal. Because of the worktable, or deck, use in the detection of a change in capacitance, it is essential that direct contact is made between the needles and the work table therefore false bottom tubes cannot be used. Additionally, this means placing tubes within a tube cannot be used. Again, this tube within a tube will break the direct contact between liquid and worktable. When this occurs, the needle cannot sense a difference in capacitance and will generate an error.
If a sample is flagged with a LOLI pipetting error, the result should not be reported because the error signifies that not enough, or no sample, was obtained during the sample dilution step and therefore the results may not be accurate. The recommendation is to repeat that sample on the next run, but to assure there is enough volume in the tube to complete the run without an error.
It is extremely important to inspect your probes routinely. Having damaged probes can significantly impact the results of your run. Things to look for are:
scratches on the surface
chips on the Teflon coat
If your probes have been bent in any way, you should not attempt to adjust them manually. This adjustment can affect the exterior and interior surface of the needle and therefore alter your results. If your probes are bent, please contact your distributor to have them replaced. In addition, if there is any visible damage to the Teflon coat of the needles, whether it is scratched or chipped, the probes must be replaced immediately and should not be used until replacement is complete.
Maintenance fluid is a corrosive reagent, and can affect the integrity of the probes if left in the system over a prolonged period of time. To avoid this corrosive effect, the maintenance procedure calls for a significant diH2O flush after the 10-15 minute maintenance fluid soak. If the maintenance fluid is consistently left in the system, and the flush is not performed, then it is recommended the probes be replaced. The corrosive action of the maintenance fluid can damage the interior of the needles and in turn affect results. In addition, the system fluid filter should also be replaced and your instrument should be inspected by an certified engineer.
You should use one blotter pad per filter plate. The blotter pads are made of an absorbent material that with the incorporation of liquid, dries and warps. This warping can affect the proper blotting of the filter plate and therefore affect the assay. Properly blotting the filter plate is an essential step in the assay procedure, and not having proper blotting has shown to cause leaking of the filter plates.
Improper draining of the wells from the filter plate during a run can be caused by various factors:
Verify that your plate is not cracked or chipped in any area. Having a chipped or cracked plate will not allow for a proper vacuum seal and liquid will remain in the wells.
Verify that your vacuum waste bottle is empty. If the vacuum waste bottle is full, this will not allow for proper vacuum to occur. In this case, empty the bottle and try to vacuum again.
Verify all tubing is properly connected. If there is a loose tube it may not allow for the proper vacuum seal needed.
If all these items are checked and you are still having an issue, then the vacuum might need readjustment, or the vacuum seal may need to be replaced. Both of these will require the visit of a certified field service representative. Please contact your local distributor.
To assure there is enough reagents to complete your run, you should always verify volumes before initiating the run. On the AIMS® software, there is a “Verify Volumes” function in the Reagent Loading Tab. By selecting the Verify Volume function, all reagent volumes will be verified and any short filled reagent will be flagged. You will have the opportunity to take the necessary measures to ensure you do have enough reagent volume for the run.
If you have ordered a new assay and want to run it on the AIMS® there are 2 files that need to be added. They are the XML protocol file and the Luminex template file. Files that control the AIMS® AtheNA robotic movements and programming parameters for each individual AtheNA kit are included on the calibration CD that is contained in each AtheNA kit. These parameters are NOT kit lot specific, do not change with each kit lot and need to be installed only once upon initial running of the kit. Follow these instructions to ensure your AIMS® can run your newly ordered assay kit:
Instructions on installing xml protocol files:
Open AtheNA Multi-Lyte® Calibration CD for the specific assay and lot number that was loaded.
Open the following location located on the CD: E:\AIMS\AIMS XML files
Once the AIMS XML files folder is open, select the xml file that pertains to the assay you will be running and copy and paste it to the following location on the AIMS® computer: C:\ZAtheNA\zps\assays.
The protocol xml file has now been added, and you are ready to run the assay.
Instructions on installing luminex template files:
Open Luminex software.
Go to “File” on the top menu bar, and scroll down to select “Import Template.”
A screen will open which will prompt you to find the template. Locate the appropriate template in the Calibration CD under the following folder:E:\AIMS\AIMSLuminexTemplates.
Once the corresponding template has been selected, select “Open.”
Once the template has been added, click on the “Add Template” button, located underneath “Favorites.”
Locate your corresponding template, and press “Select.”