Laboratory Technology The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled automated laboratory systems
What are the hallmarks of a modern laboratory, and what do manufacturers expect? We spoke to Wolfgang Why, CTO of WILD Gruppe, a company that develops and manufactures laboratory instruments and equipment.
Mr. Warum, what are the core competencies of the WILD Group and what do you mean by “Laboratory 4.0”, which you mention on your website?
Wolfgang Warum: The WILD Group is an Austrian technology partner for small and large companies that are primarily based in Europe. Our customers entrust us with the development and production of equipment, systems, and assemblies. In medical laboratory technology, faster "time to market” is crucial. That is why manufacturers trust our know-how because it allows us to produce shorter product development cycles, which yields them a competitive advantage.
Laboratory 4.0 refers to networking devices and data. Both data evaluation and the addressability of the device are important in this context. How can I send jobs to the device and facilitate data readout? How is the device serviced? “Preventive maintenance” is key in this case. Another consideration is how the data gets to the user. Is data displayed on a screen, should it be connected to a smartwatch – an application we have already successfully implemented in the past - or should users be able to check the result of the measurement or the device status on other external devices? In other words, usability and how easily a user interacts with devices is a key part of the process.
Do you manufacture the laboratory devices in a cleanroom environment?
Warum: Our company facilitates clean room assembly for a variety of applications. This is designed to prevent contamination from affecting the measurement. This is common practice for analytical instruments and any optical measurement system applications. Dust particles and particulate matter would negatively affect optical measurement. We also support sterile product manufacturing using aseptic processing.
Do you think the COVID-19 pandemic spurred a burst of innovation in laboratory technology? After all, last year, laboratories have been in higher demand than ever.
Warum: I am pretty sure the COVID-19 pandemic has fueled automated laboratory systems to facilitate the increase in testing. Productivity and automation were key in this setting. Right now, laboratories must process large quantities of rapid testing, putting them in high demand. Undoubtedly, many labs had to add extra equipment because of the pandemic. I know this gave an enormous boost to many of our clients. At the same time, we also saw an emerging trend in "point of care" testing pre-pandemic, which are diagnostic tests performed at or near the patient or where a specimen is collected. Needless to say, these types of tests are still popular today. Examples include rapid at-home point-of-care testing for COVID-19.
Do you know which product you are going to present at this year's COMPAMED trade fair?
Warum: The specific concept for the trade fair is still pending, but we know we will once again team up with our partner network and showcase the value chain of products. We call this the WIN network, which stands for WILD Integrated Network. We launched it four years ago and have built many positive experiences and successes since then. We will definitely be highlighting fun and exciting exhibits again and feature many technology experts on site.