10/21/2019 | Spotlight

The lab is where it all starts

All stages in the product cycle generate samples and data, which need to be analysed and processed. A fully digitised work flow is every lab worker’s dream. Is it going to be a reality soon?

1 Research

is the result of a good idea and the nucleus of every new product.

2 Development

takes the results of research and transforms them into a process.

3 Analytics

generate huge amounts of data at every step of the product life cycle.

4 Scale-up

is the growing pains before the process can reach maturity.

5 Production

is the culmination of process development and yet, the beginning of optimisation.

6 Quality control

ensures an excellent product and is the data mine for making it even better.

Typing away at the computer in your home office, we regard working from home as one of the achievements of modern times. And yet, practising your profession at home was just daily life in the pre-industrial era and for scientists, too. In the 1870s, Louis Pasteur pondered the concept of vaccination in the laboratory right across the living room of his Paris villa. Maybe he contemplated the principles of chirality while sprinkling salt on his breakfast egg, but most probably, he didn’t give a thought about his work-life balance.

Edison industrialised research

Around the same time period, Thomas Edison went a step further on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. He founded the world’s first industrial research facility in Menlo Park, New Jersey, USA. The laboratory was next to his home in a residential area. Again, this is unthinkable today and for good reason. Thanks to occupational safety, researchers today have a life expectancy that is no different from the general public. The general public, on the other hand, has nothing to be afraid of thanks to operational safety measures.

The product life cycle comes full circle

Working in a laboratory of today is surely very different than in past centuries. At its core, however, the role of the lab stays the same: it’s the birthplace of every new process and where the quality of the product is determined – regardless whether we are talking biotechnology, petroleum refining, or fine chemicals. 

Laboratory and analytical techniques have been an inherent part of ACHEMA since its premiere in 1920. Today, they form the second-largest exhibition group with more than 600 exhibitors. Reason enough to put the lab into the spotlight: as a cover topic of this first issue of ACHEMA Magazine and as a focal topic at ACHEMA 2021. Digitalisation is about to change the whole process industry, and the lab is no exception. Let’s explore where this wandering path will lead us.

Author

Marlene Etschmann

marlene.etschmann[at]dechema.de

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