A new hardware solution is proposed that allows one to automatically change the length of a chromatographic bed. The setup is based on the serial coupling of chromatographic columns using two rotor-stator valves (with N positions, N + 1 ports). Despite the use of a prototype setup requiring rather long connection tubing, only 9% loss in efficiency is observed for compounds with a retention factor above 4 compared to the efficiency expected on the basis of the individual column results. It has been demonstrated for a number of isocratic and gradient separations that the system allows one to realize considerable analysis time savings by adapting the total column length to the specific sample requirements and/or to the stage of method development wherein one is working. During method development, a separation on a short column length can first be used to rapidly gain insight into the composition of the sample, leaving fewer runs to be done on a column of maximal length (offering efficiencies that are inaccessible with individual column systems). The ease with which information can be obtained on columns of different lengths can furthermore be exploited for screening purposes to detect coeluting components in a stage wherein they still appear completely unresolved (i.e., have a resolution well below R(s) = 0.5).