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Efficiency gains in day-to-day lab work

Innovating with the customer

At this year's analytica, Merck Millipore's exhibition was all about the customer. The life sciences division at Merck KGaA positions itself as a strategic partner, dedicates its work as one of the three leading R&D investors for products in the life sciences industry to furthering progress in this highly forward-looking sector.

Dr Oliver Mell, Head of Marketing & Product Management Lab Essentials at Merck Millipore, spoke to labor&more's Claudia Schiller about the company's latest products and services, and industry opportunities and trends.

labor&more: Dr Mell, this year's exhibitors can look forward to a highly successful fair with a record number of visitors. What's your personal experience of analytica, and what relevance does the fair have for your company?

Dr Oliver Mell: We're exceptionally pleased with our results at analytica. Customer feed­back about our fair programme, the innovations we're presenting and our suppor­ting activities is all very positive indeed. We're also very happy that our sales talks are going into such depth: this level of ­interest shows us that we've struck the right nerve with our customers.

At Merck Millipore, you're responsible for marketing and product management for the Lab Essentials segment in the Lab Solutions business unit. What are the competencies for your segment?

Within Merck Millipore's overall lab programme, we cover a wide range of analy­tics solutions. The Lab Essentials portfolio covers products such as inorganic basic reagents, solutions for instrumental analysis, solvents, chromatography columns and thin-film chromatography, photometric tests, as well as dye solutions for microscopy and building blocks for organic synthesis.

This means we cover the full range of applications not only in instrumental analysis and photometry but also for in-process control and organic synthesis – primarily for the pharmaceutical/food industry but also for general industrial applications.

One aspect of your development work on new solutions is the close involvement of end users. Can you offer an example of a situation where customer feedback was used as an input for the product development process?

One example is our new, rugged and port­able Fotometer Move 100 that we're ex­hibiting at analytica. It has an impressively long list of methods: of these, 100 are pre-programmed and 35 are user-specific. This answers our customer needs. Alongside the usual market research, our product ­managers also survey customer needs via regular face-to-face contact with clients.

In your opinion, what are the latest trends driving customer requirements in the pharmaceutical/biotech industry?

One trend is especially prominent at this year's analytica: customers are looking for help to make efficiency gains in day-to-day lab work. One goal here is thus to achieve higher rates of sample throughput. Our Chromolith High Resolution range is just one approach we took to meeting this need: this new generation of monolithic HPLC columns accelerates the results of analysis even for complex samples.

In addition, customers are also looking to expand automation and simplify sample measurement. We've satisfied this requirement with the MOVE 100 I mentioned above. This system uses pre-programmed methods to maximise measurement simplicity and help accelerate results, even when used for mobile applications.

Many of Merck's products represent milestones in the history of applied chromato­graphy. HPLC analysis is taking on an increasingly central role in research, quality control and food/environmental analysis. What solutions can you offer to meet the current requirements in these areas?

In chromatography, it's all about selectivity. Here, our Chromolith HR offers a next-generation monolithic column that ensures a significantly higher plate number and peak symmetry even for complex samples and low-pressure columns. We're also exhibiting a wide range of new columns with surface modifications for particulate column applications and from our ZIC-HILIC range. The icing on the cake is the next generation of our Chromebook app for tablet computers: the app offers users all of the latest details on typical applications for Merck Millipore columns.

What other innovations have you been showcasing and what kinds of products is Lab Essentials focusing on at the moment?

Alongside the new column types, we're also presenting further innovations at analytica, covering three main areas. The first group comprises our innovations for ins­trumental analysis, e.g. the chromatography columns described above, ISO Guide 34-accredited standards and HPLC solvents.

Second, we're exhibiting products for point-of-use analysis. Key products here are our MOVE 100, plus a range of test sets such as measuring COD with high chloride concentrations.

We also cover lab productivity with products covering solvents, organic synthesis and inorganic basic reagents. Here, we're offering new kinds of packaging and solutions designed to make lab work more ­efficient – and more sustainable.

This year's analytica has seen particularly strong international growth. What's the ­input of international markets for your industry – and where do you see potential?

Merck Millipore has always had a strong presence internationally. A significant portion of our supply chain serves global customers, including those in the emerging economies. These are our prime candidates for growth, while European and US demand is likely to increase only moderately. Often, customers relocate production or development work to a country where we're already established. Here, we can then offer our customers the expected level of service. In Europe and the US, we expect to see rising demand for products that help customers' analytical work become faster, more efficient and deliver more precise results.

Dr Mell, thank you very much for the ­interview.

Scanning electron microscope image of the structure of Chromolith®.
Photo: Merck KG aA

Merck, Merck KG, Merck aA, Millipore, Merck Millipore,

L&M int. 2 / 2014

The articles are publishes in issue L&M int. 2 / 2014.
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