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Troubleshooting Principles

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Effective troubleshooting is a great skill to learn in the laboratory—and clearly defining the problem you are trying to solve is an essential first step. It will allow you to focus your efforts, plan deliberate next steps, and define what “fixed” will look like.

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Hello, everyone, and welcome to another Restek Tip video. In this video, we are going to discuss effective troubleshooting techniques, and we're going to focus on one specific behavior.

Careful definition of our problem. Unfortunately, this is an area of troubleshooting where a lot of times we tend to take shortcuts. We might generate some bad data, look at a chromatogram and say something like, "Bah! That chromatogram is garbage!" That might be descriptive, but it's not particularly helpful. What's going on there? Why is it actually garbage? Do we have extra peaks? Do we not have the resolution we need? Maybe a problem with our baseline? What specifically is the problem that we need to fix with that?

That's where this idea of careful definition comes in. "Hey, I have these two peaks, here. They are not baseline resolved." Great, that's an actionable definition of a problem. What is also very important from that is it then will help us define what our fixed state will be. If I get baseline resolution on these two peaks, then I have fixed my chromatogram, and I'm ready to go. This illustrates why it is so important and beneficial to our troubleshooting process to take some time and carefully define the problem. It will allow us to limit and focus our troubleshooting, and get us back up and running as soon as possible.

Thanks very much for joining us for this Restek Tip.


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