Tip Pickup Issues

Hi folks! Is anyone here experiencing tip pickup issues on their i5 or i7 head even after a PM? Specifically using 190 uL filtered tips, thanks in advance!

I would reach out to your sales rep and ask them to look into your specific lot of consumables. We had an issue not with tip pickup, but with tip shucking (only with 50 uL filtered tips on the Span8 Pod). Switching to a new lot of tips fixed the problem.

We also had a Similar Issue this year with 190 uL filtered Tips and our MC Pod. We had a intermittent problem with the tip box coming along with the tips, which continued even after a PM (and during the PM the framing of deck changed very little, so it wasn’t a teaching issue). Switching out to a new lot of consumables in this case again resolved the issue.

If you didn’t just have the PM, I would have suggested re-framing the tip pickup positions, and if the tip pickup issue was with the Span8 Pod, to make sure the tip collars are tight, but not too tight.

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Thanks a lot, this certainly seems like the solution!

By any chance are you using a certain box of tips not compatible with the 96MCA on the i5/i7? During the COVID Tip Shortage we were attempting to replace our regular tips with other sources. We found out (after much head scratching) that the capacitive tips are not actually compatible with the 96MCA, but are fine with the 8-span. I know the tip boxes look almost identical, but I think there are certain tip types that have a different tip box spacing making the MCA crash/crunch into the tips. This would cause some tips to not load and have some tips fall out or some all the tips to load and also bring the whole box with it. There are some tip boxes, especially from 3rd party like Axygen that say their compatible with the older fx/nx that have every so slightly different tip boxes that won’t allow the head to seat properly on an i5/i7. At least that’s what I told/heard…sounds completely plausible to me.

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Hmmm good point, we use sourced tips directly from Beckman so this may not be the case. I’ll keep an eye out as we have used 3rd party tips in the past.

For us at least in both , we are using all Beckman Coulter tips, and we aren’t using conductive tips at all. So I think it still worth investigating. If Beckman Coulter finds that the tips are part of a lot that was affected, then they should replace them for you.

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Is there any issues with other labware on the deck? For example, If you tell it to aspirate 0 from the bottom of a plate or reservoir, do the tips go all the way to the bottom? If not, the Accuframe may be the issue and needs to be retaught.

For what it’s worth, my team has been having trouble with tips on our i7s too. From what I hear, it’s a lot to lot issue. :confused:


We are having massive problems both wit the MCA and the Span8 (MCA lift box, Span8 fail to eject). The reaction from BC has been far from great, with a " we know there’s issues with our tips we will replace box by box basis" this has been going on for about a year with us being unable to leave instruments unsupervised in case there is errors. We have since achieved an agreement with Beckman to replace all our tips with those made in 2023. However, we have heard reports from other facilities that there is still problems with the newly made tips. It is very frustrating that their lack of QC and response to this has been so poor.

More frustratingly they don’t mark LOT numbers on tip boxes so its hard to feedback on what lots are effected. Only the manufacturing date is printed which apparently they cannot correlate to Lots.


Thanks for the update, sounds rather similar to our situation. What’s everyone’s speculation, an injection mold issue?

Hi All. I am frustrated and disappointed by this too, especially for the length of time we have had issues, the # of occurrences that this has happened, and the lack of clarity from Beckman Coulter’s Service department on what they are doing to rectify this /what their timetable is for rectifying these issues in their tip production facility. Even more frustrating thing for me is the reluctance on Beckman Coulter’s end to share lots that they know have been affected by others in some cases. This means we have to gamble with tip lots and potentially cause hard crashes/loss of samples/reagents (or at minimum require someone to watch the Biomek) before they can be replaced.

This has recently cropped up again, so I wanted to share in greater detail both the timeline/frequency of occurrences, as well share lot #s that I least know to be bad, in the hopes of preventing others from dealing with the issue. I’m also hoping that others can report here the lots they know had issues with.

*** Known Problematic Lots ***

BC50F - Lot # P39304 (Span8 issues) - Personally witnessed. Confirmation from Beckman Coulter at the time that Lots P27095, P30138, and P28694 were identified as having issues. The Beckman Coulter confirmed lots had issues where extra plastic was left inside the bore of the tip where it loads onto the mandrel.

BC190F - Lot #s P41003, P41796 (MC Pod Issues) - Personally witnessed. We noticed that compared to older lots of tips that were still functioning well, these tip boxes had a lot more “wobble” on the TL ALPs. We noted that the tip boxes compressed much further down in the Z direction, compared to the older lots of tips.

*** Span-8 issues we have seen***

*** Mid Summer 2022*** The issue was first seen, where tips are not shucked properly (always BC50F tips, issue not seen with Span-8 using BC190F tips) . This would lead to the still loaded channels to then crunch into new tips. Issue was first hypothesized that the tip collars were not the “Goldilocks” level of tightness. Issue was inconsistent, and we proceeded to move forward with other testing.

*** Late Summer 2022 *** the issue comes back, with one channel always being the culprit. Service comes out, and can’t find any issues. Further testing is not able to replicate the issue.

*** Mid Fall 2022*** The issue comes back, with the a different channel always being the culprit. We had always been using the same lot of tips. While we never get official confirmation that the lot of 50 uL tips we were using was affected, we had our BC50F tips replaced. We have not seen a repeat of the issue on the Span-8 again.

This was effectively ~ 4 months of inconsistent issues before the switch to a new tip lot resolved it. We have not seen an issues with the Span-8 since this.

*** MC Pod Issues ***

*** Late Winter 2023*** we begin to have occurrences of the MC Pod picking up the tip box along with the tips. This would lead to the tip box being pushed into the labware that we were trying to pipette from. The first two times I thought it was a fluke. The 3rd occurrence happened just before a yearly PM was due. During the PM, we asked Beckman Coulter to investigate it. No hardware issues were seen. When the ALPs were re-framed as part of the PM, there was not a significant change in location, which ruled out an alignment issue. Video from the camera on the Biomek also confirmed that the tip box drop-off into the TL ALP worked just fine as well. We have our tips replaced.

*** Late Spring 2023*** The same issue pops up again with a new lot of tips. These tips are worse. We get to the point where the MC Pod is unable to shuck tips (Error during Absolute Move: The D motion failed: motion error window exceeded). Even after removing tips manually by hand, the MC Pod eventually has mechanical issues where we cannot run any methods since the MC Pod can no longer initialize (Error from Biomek_i7: Unable to find the tip box that the current tips on Pod1 came from), despite power cycling the Biomek/PC multiple times. MC Pod needs to be replaced after this (on a a relatively new instrument that was PM’d 2 months before). Since the issue was deemed to be hardware related, we continue to use same lot of tips that we received as a replacement in the Spring.

*** Early-Mid Summer 2023 - Present *** The issue starts to occur again. At this point, since the MC Pod was already replaced, we believe this to be a consumables issue. I end up writing a quick method that is simply to load and unload tips on each of the 6 TL ALPS that we have, to try and troubleshoot more. We started first by testing each and every box in this manner. If the Tip Box “failed”, we set it aside and tested others. Once we tested enough tips to do a complete run, we proceeded forward. Despite all of the tip boxes passing in on the initial test, we had the issue occur during an overnight run. This led to a complete loss for our assay.

The next day, we tried to do more testing. If a tip box “failed”, then we moved around to the other TL ALPs. 83% of tips would still fail in other TL ALPs. So the issue was not location dependent, but tip box dependent. Since we noticed that these tips boxes were compressing pretty far downwards in the Z direction, we even adjusted the ALP location to try and get the Tip Box to not be carried along. This did not help. We reverted the teaching back to their original coordinates. We also noted that tips do not seem “static” either. If a tip box failed, we put the lid back on, and the tips were able to move freely. The tips did not want to stick to the tip box itself.

The following day, we proceed to test and “pass” enough tip boxes for a supervised run. Despite them all passing, we found that during the run, we had 15 different occurrences of the tip box being picked up and carried along with it. Some of them we were able to catch by breaking the light curtain, while others led hard crashes into other labware.

After this run, I also decided to look into the environment. For ~12 days we monitored temperature and humidity inside the room, as well as inside the Biomek. Temperature inside the room was 19.4C +/- 2C. Temperature inside the Biomek was 20.24C +/- 1.5C. Humidity in the room ranged from ~60% rH to 44.5% rH with an average of ~50% rH. Inside the Biomek, the Humidity ranged from 57.5 % rH to 41.5% rH with an average of 47.5 % rH. While I do not think static was the issue, I had the team buy an anti-static gun to use on tip boxes before loading, to at least remove that as a potential explanation for further issues.

We first noticed this issue 5.75 months ago and gone through 2 full scale tip replacements for affected lots at this point for the MC Pod. We received our newest lot of tips, and we will test these and see. I’m going to wait and see if we can get at least 3 supervised runs without issues before I try letting the team run the liquid handler unsupervised. I can report back here if I see any issues with other lots of tips.

I hope that all of this information helps anyone else going through this right now. All the other points that myself and others have brought up (checking framing, checking the Accuframe, mandrel tightness, high static,) are all possibilities and should be investigated. My suggestion is that if you see either Span-8 or MC Pod issues, get a ticket created ASAP with Beckman Coulter, and then try some of the tests I did above. If you see similar issues, then ask for new tips. At this point, I’d also closely monitor your system when a new lot is introduced, and for the MC Pod consider at least doing a quick tip pick up test to catch significantly affected lots. Since you cant re-rack used tips with the Span-8, I’m not aware of a way to test new tip lots without wasting them in this case.

Please let me know if anyone has any questions. I’m happy to elaborate more. Thanks!


Thank you very much for this write-up!

thx a lot for this very detailed description!
I had this issue of unproperly ejected tips (BC50F) myself, but with completely different LOTs.
a few troubleshooting tips from my side:

  1. clean the span-8 probes with EtOH
  2. unscrew the black hull and check if the silver inner part (that holds the hose) is fixed. screw it up if necessary
  3. when you screw up the black hull again, don`t screw it back to the top, but leave a space of, lets say, 1-2mm. this helps to shuck the tips properly by decreasing the space of the hull with tips loaded

keep in mind that if you do this, the hull is not fixed any more and tends to migrate upwards over time, so you might check every time before starting a new run…

no guarantee, but easy to implement and surely helps to avoid this annoying issue



ps. “silver inner part” = mandrel

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regarding MC picking up tip boxes:
go to
Hardware Setup → Pod1-> Tip Settings
increase the value of “Tip Box Push Off”

you have to play around a little bit here to get it right…


It seems this is a large issue in many sites for many users. Is there a way we as an industry can put pressure on Beckman to up their game? Their responses so far are not good enough and put the emphasis on us to find the problem lots, but once found they do not remove lots from circulation. If money wasn’t an issue I know we would be rapidly trading our BioMeks in for something else! Hamilton and Tecan have both offered discounts if we were to do so!


check this link for quality alternative for Beckman tips

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I wonder if this is a good time to start a community run lot # document.

This way people across different sites in different areas of the world who use BioMek’s can access and check bad lot info against a community driven database.

I feel like this kind of initiative is precisely why these kinds of forums spring up on the Internet anyway.


is anyone also tracking tip pickup location? If there is interest in this, let me know and I’m happy to collaborate on this document to track.

I guess the choice of the system depends on how much you like to tinker with the robot… and in regards to this, Biomek is still the best in my opinion