The Effect Of Single Use Systems On Product Development

single-use and product development interview at interphex

On day three of Interphex, Todd and Todd sat down to interview Warren Ang, product manager of bioprocess for Eppendorf North America. Ang discusses the impact that single use systems have on the direction of product development. Ang also highlights some of the challenges or “mountains” in the industry -- referencing in particular changes in client expectations -- and shares some of the ways a company can begin to meet these new needs. 

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Interview Transcription:

Todd S:             Good morning. This is Todd and Todd, live in New York, Life Science Connect Radio on location, direct from Interphex day three. Todd, we have an exciting guest up next, but gosh, I suspect that day three is going to be just as great as day two. We're having a good time so far.

Todd Y:             You know, it just hit me, after our last guest, the professional engineer that's down into the nitty gritty, got all kinds of details – that perspective, when you combine it with the perspective of some of the marketing folks and the sales folks, you really need to combine both those views to really get the full picture of the power of the technology.

Todd S:             I agree, and that's the super secret about Life Science Connect Radio, that we get to help facilitate those conversations. The biggest beneficiaries of that are you and me. Next up is an exciting guest. Say hello to Warren Ang. He's a product manager of bioprocess with Eppendorf North America. Warren, welcome to the show.

Warren:           Thank you. Glad to be here.

Todd S:             We're glad to have you. Thank you for stopping by and joining us. Before we get into a conversation around Eppendorf, take a few quick seconds and tell us a little bit about you and your background.

Warren:           I'm a mechanical engineer by training. Along with [INAUDIBLE 00:01:04], we manage the bioprocess portfolio for Eppendorf. That encompasses both the New Brunswick bioprocess line and the [INAUDIBLE 00:01:12] bioprocess line.

Todd S:             Alright, go deeper on that. Tell us how Eppendorf serves its market.

Warren:           Well, pretty much, we are a partner in the life science industries. Back in 2007, Eppendorf acquired New Brunswick Systems, and that's pretty much why I was brought on board, to help manage that integration. By 2010, that's when we fully integrated the product line of New Brunswick Entity Eppendorf Systems. Then in 2012, Eppendorf acquired [INAUDIBLE 00:01:35] Systems.

                        There's a complementary synergy between the [INAUDIBLE 00:01:39] systems and New Brunswick. Even though they do both supply equipment to the bioprocess industry, they both have their niche: small scale, [INAUDIBLE 00:01:47] system, advanced software on the [INAUDIBLE 00:01:48] systems, and large scale, robust systems on the New Brunswick system. They really complement each other.

Todd Y:             Warren, I want to take a couple steps back. From your customer's perspective, what kind of issues are your systems helping your customers address? What kind of problems does it help you solve?

Warren:           I'd say, with the advanced software systems, customers can really look into what it is that they're doing and maybe how they can improve on that in later runs. The SCATA systems that we offer, the [INAUDIBLE 00:02:18] systems, integration of third party systems with the bioreactor systems – those issues are hurtles that our customers are facing these days, and I think we have at least part of that solution in their whole overall goal and research.

Todd S:             Well, you touched on this a bit, but I want to go deeper on it. We all know the biotech industry is a relatively small industry. Walk us through how Eppendorf really stands apart from other suppliers.

Warren:           Yes, I'd say because New Brunswick has roughly about seven years experience in the biotech industry, Eppendorf has also relatively seven years experience in the life science industry. [INAUDIBLE 00:02:54] was created in 1991, so the three competence centers, we like to say.

                        They really put together their expertise, so the New Brunswick's expertise is in sophisticated polymer manufacturing. The first product really that has come out of this collaboration is our rigid well single use system. A lot of the single use systems that are used today are flexible bag systems.

                        There are some drawbacks to that system, but we feel that, because of the traditional glass, rigid wall reactor system that's primarily used in New Brunswick's [INAUDIBLE 00:03:29] systems, we can apply that concept into the polymer single use manufacturing system. That's really how the product focuses well with the collaboration that was put forth.

Todd S:             There's that word again.

Todd Y:             I was just going to ask about single use again, Warren. I think there's hardly a conversation we've had here that didn't bring that whole concept up. It's a juggernaut, I think, is probably the right word for it. What influence does that have on the direction of product development? I mean, as the product manager, you've got to be, I would think, have that on your mind quite often.

Warren:           Yes, I agree. There's a lot of talk in the industry about single use, mainly because of its flexibility, and the customer's ability to predict the cost of certain aspects of the manufacturing process. But yes, I would say single use is still relatively in its infancy. I think there's more to come, in terms of new products — Improvements on current products, as well.

Todd Y:             I'm just curious. I’m not an engineer, and I'm just wondering how does that change your thinking? Is it a dramatic difference, thinking in terms of single use versus stainless steel, that's going to be there for twenty years?

Warren:           Well, I think stainless steel has its place in the market. I don't think stainless steel is going away, not that single use is going to be replacing it any time soon, but in certain applications, yes, single use does have its advantages.

                        It's always something that we're looking forward to. We're always dabbling in new technologies. Our R&D groups in Germany and here in the U.S. are always looking for new products, as well as advancing current products to adapt to single use systems.

Todd S:             Well, new products and existing products – what should we be looking forward to from Eppendorf?

Warren:           I'd say our number one goal is to improve on what we already have. We've actually just launched a new generation pipette, the old version, the [INAUDIBLE 00:05:28] – now we have the [INAUDIBLE 00:05:29] 2, much lighter, more ergonomic. We have the repeater – that is also improved upon.

                        We have [INAUDIBLE 00:05:36] pipettes. Those are also brand new. But like I said before, our R&D team is dabbling in new technologies, both in updating current instruments for both performance and safety. I'd say we will also probably be launching new instruments in the near future.

Todd Y:             Warren, Todd and I are both media guys, and so when it comes to understanding engineering, we're slow, shall we say. But I look at a place like Interphex, and I look at just the vast array of technology that's here, and then there's the applications of all that technology on top of it. A guy like you, with the engineering background, what do you get out of a show like Interphex?

Warren:           Well, you learn something new every day. For me, the uncertainty of where the day will take me, listening to customer's applications, really getting to intimately know how they're using our equipment, other people's equipment, and there's a level of personal attachment to our users using our equipment, whether it's a small pipette or a bioreactor. It's just really, really motivating to see the motivation, I'd say, the drive behind what these researchers are doing. In the end, they're making vaccines and antibiotics.

Todd Y:             Important stuff.

Warren:           Yes, important medical breakthroughs in our daily lives that pretty much everybody's affected by it.

Todd S:             Let's set aside Eppendorf for just a quick second. When the bell rings at the end of the day, what will Warren Ang's key takeaways from Interphex be? What's really excited you from this show?

Warren:           Actually, this year has been a very good year for Interphex. In previous years, we've gotten to a certain level of meeting new customers, but I think this year just blows every previous year, in comparison. There's a lot of new projects that we've learned, during the show. We're just excited to get back into the office and get back to the real world, and just collaborate with our customers and see where we can take them.

Todd S:             There's that word again.

Todd Y:             Warren, if there was one thing, if you didn't have any constraints on what you could work on, as you look out there, what is the one challenge or mountain that you see in this industry, that you'd just love to work on and go fix? I know you're eventually going to work on it and fix it.

Warren:           I'd like to fix everything, but no, I'd say it's really diving into each customer's application. I wish I had the answers for everything that they ask for, but unfortunately we can't. But we do have our R&D team coming out with white papers to give our customers a starting point in their process.

                        We have new users on a daily basis come to us, asking us for information and pretty much looking to us as a consultant to jump off of. We've created those ad papers, white papers, to really give them that jump-off point: what parameters to set, how to go about their C train, for example. That's something that I think we could work on and improve on, just so that there's more clarity in the direction of where they want to go.

Todd S:             Warren, I hate to say it, but we're running low on time. Before we let you go, how can people get in touch with you and where can they learn more about Eppendorf?

Warren:           We have a website, www.EppendorfNA.com. All of our products are there, products that were mentioned today, bioprocess equipment. That's our go-to website, and we're also here at Interphex, Booth 3738.

Todd S:             Alright, 3738. Warren Ang, Product Manager of Bioprocess for Eppendorf North America.  It was great to have you, Warren. Thanks for stopping by and joining us.

Warren:           Thank you.

Todd S:             Alright, that wraps this broadcast.  On behalf of our guest, Warren Ang, my co-host, Todd Youngblood, I'm Todd Schnick, Life Science Connect Radio's live coverage at Interphex. We'll be right back.


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