Discrete or Continuous Flow Analysis- which is better?
With both Discrete and Continuous Segmented Flow Analyzers being widely available, choosing the better technique is one of the common decisions facing laboratory managers. A wide variety of factors affects the choice of analytical instrument - target workload (samples/hour), variety of chemistries, methods required, bench space, staff availability etc. Both discrete and continuous flow systems offer fast, automated, colorimetric analysis of multiple samples, so the answer really depends on the current and future analytical requirements of the laboratory.
Discrete Analyzers employ sample trays and discrete reaction wells in which the colorimetric reaction takes place. In contrast, segmented flow analyzers employ a continuous flow of samples and reagent, segregated by air bubbles within tubing and mixing coils. In general terms, discrete analyzers are ideal when automation is a priority and/or when many and varied tests are needed on different samples. Continuous Segmented Flow Analysis is ideal when a larger number of samples are to be analyzed for a smaller number of chemistries. However, both techniques are flexible, so it is important that expert advice is sought in the choice of analyzer and that the instrument is configured to meet the precise needs of the laboratory.
When choosing the most appropriate analytical technique, it is important to consider both the current and likely future needs of the laboratory.