By: Andrew Cialino, Vice President and Head of Business Development at SFW Capital Partners
At Pittcon 2019 in Philadelphia, team members at SFW Capital Partners discussed the latest trends in spectroscopy, spectrometry, chromatography, and other lab sciences fields with key opinion leaders, management teams of leading instrumentation companies, and scientists. What follows are three of the most consistent themes that emerged in the course of our conversations.
Labs Seek Productivity
As pressure to deliver insights faster and at lower costs increases, scientists and researchers continue to seek opportunities to automate parts of their workflow. Automation helps labs reduce labor costs, improve reproducibility and accuracy, and increase overall efficiency. Rather than spending valuable time repeating tests and recording data, researchers can focus on analysis and critical thinking.
Automation of sample prep in particular continues to be an area of focus, allowing for reduced experiment processing and less hands-on time from researchers. In addition, innovations in automated preventive maintenance can cut back on instrument downtime and increase the overall return on investment of the instrumentation.
“Successful instrument manufacturers today are intent on creating robust, reliable systems capable of high-performance measurements that are repeatable,” said Terry Kelly, President of TA Instruments. “Automating routine tasks like calibration, verification, and data analysis is essential to give scientists more time for value-added work.”
Application-Specific Technologies Take Off
Instrument providers are increasingly focused on application development to support new use cases of their core measurements and technology. With competition on the rise across industries, many providers are taking the leap into new end markets, delving into fast-growing spaces like food, agriculture, and beverage; consumer electronics; aerospace and automotive; and more. With these moves comes an increased focus on application support, in order to fully understand the needs of the market and proactively deliver tailored solutions. Faced with a variety of potential instruments to purchase, researchers tend to gravitate toward ones with substantial literature and/or technical support, so they can hit the ground running with their new tools.
Connectivity Is Key
“Rare is the instrument or measurement that provides all of the answers. Researchers move projects forward by collaborating globally and analyzing data from a wide range of complementary measurements and techniques. The connected laboratory is the way of the future,” added Ahmad Sheikh, Partner at SFW Capital.
Increased connectivity has the potential to drive productivity across all aspects of the lab experience. Instruments that wirelessly log data free researchers from manual data entry, while the ability to monitor and control instruments and laboratory environmental conditions remotely means researchers spend fewer hours on manual oversight. Furthermore, artificial intelligence applied to cloud-based instrument data can unlock previously hidden insights. Predictive analytics enable researchers to anticipate instrument failure and trigger preventative maintenance, ultimately reducing downtime.
Note: When Pittcon 2019 took place in March 2019, Terry Kelly was the President of TA Instruments. As of May 2019, he joined SFW Capital Partners as an Operating Partner.