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What is the reason for the Pittcon Editors’ Award?

Consider the challenge: An exhibition hall covered with exhibition booths large and small, accommodating the technologies of over 1000 different companies, stakeholders in the global analytical instrument market, estimated at over $60 billion annual revenues.

A large number of the exhibiting businesses will be developers and manufacturers of analytical instruments, and inventors and suppliers of technologies and parts essential for the production and running of analytical instruments. As every technology market, the analytical instrument market lives from the ingenuity of scientists and engineers to develop new technologies, which make the analytical experiments more precise, by achieving lower detection thresholds or increase reproducibility of repeated experimental runs, or to reduce the price and the environmental impact of single analytical procedures.

All these innovative teams presenting at Pittcon are vying for the attention of an audience to improve the practice of analytical chemistry to make this world we live in a better and safer place. Not only is the number of new technologies launched year after year staggering, but even more overwhelming are the many different applications, where these instruments and technologies might be used: from life science research, drug discovery and clinical diagnostics, to routine monitoring of the quality of manufactured goods or the continuous measurement of air and water quality.

A single attendee, trying to find the three best instruments or new technologies at a Pittcon exhibition will find it impossible to visit each and every booth, discuss in-depth the merits of the new developments and then make up his or her mind. Very likely, they will have to limit themselves to a certain group of technologies or focus on a small slice of applications. This, however, does not really reflect the overall impact of Pittcon for the markets of analytical instruments.

This is why over the last seventeen years all technology journalists accredited at Pittcon have been invited to select their three top choices from the new instrument launches at the annual exhibition. From this large number of nominations, an independent and self-assembled group of industry and technology observers picked the overall three winning instruments and technologies, after having discussed the novelty of approach or the possible market impact.

Over the years these top choices have included new developments of established technologies, particularly in the field of mass spectrometry and its coupling with other separation methods, a leading growth driver of the analytical instrument market over the last 20 years. However, they have also featured new concepts for the measurement challenges, for examples new particle analysers, such as the Affinity Biosensor from Archimedes or the IG-1000 from Shimadzu, or a Raman spectrometer that is able to also establish the topography of the area the spectrum was taken (WITec).

However, winners did not have to be fully-fledged analytical instruments. A number of elected developments were in the field of consumable handling, such as the Meltfit column connector (Nlisis) or a method to part-automate filtration and sample preparation, the Samplicity from Merck Millipore.

It is this overview of the analytical instrument industry that is the aim of these independent awards. They might hint at technology trends, but most important of all they show the industry at its most creative and inventive, give a snapshot of what the ingenuity of the engineering brains in its constituent businesses can produce.

Welcome to Pittcon 2013

Without the competition of generalist exhibitions such as Analytica and ACHEMA – as in 2012 - and having chosen Philadelphia as a conference location, Pittcon 2013 has all the vestiges of an audience success. Only the final tally will show, whether this hope has been fulfilled, even without the exhibition presence of Agilent and PerkinElmer. Watch the April issue for the answers …

The Instrument News team is starting our IN Leaderboard survey, which aims of listing over 500 companies by revenues for financial 2012. Please visit so that your company can be in the IN Leaderboard in our July issue. If you would like to voice your opinion about any subject relevant to the analytical instrument industry and want it published in Instrument News, please contact me on

ACHEMA 2012 – where manufacturing and laboratory meet

ACHEMA 2012 is here, and one of the leading events for the process industries is once more also a global meeting point for the analytical instruments industry. About 680 exhibitors out of the total 3,800 show laboratory and analytical technologies in Hall 4 of the Messe Centre in Frankfurt during the 17th and 22nd June.

“ACHEMA offers the chance to see current state-of-the-art technologies in a breadth and depth you won’t find anywhere else in the world,” Thomas Scheuring, CEO of DECHEMA Ausstellungs-GmbH, commented. “There is no other platform worldwide where a decision maker in our industry has a better chance to meet the one single supplier who has the perfect solution for his specific problem. That’s one reason why we see 175,000 people every three years here in Frankfurt”. Addressing the whole supply chain, ACHEMA is no longer just the focus of European engineers, but in addition to the traditionally strong contingent from Japan, the show is seeing a strong increase of exhibitors from China and India as well as from South Korea and Turkey.

“The process industries may have had a hard time in 2008 and 2009, but in 2010 and 2011 many of our exhibitors recorded the best financial results ever. Even if there are some uncertainties in the current economic outlook, overall the industry has emerged stronger than before, and we believe ACHEMA 2012 will equally see very positive progress,” explained Scheuring.

In contrast to more specialised events, ACHEMA covers the whole value chain of the process industry – from research and innovation via the laboratory and process development right through to plant engineering and packaging. This offers the unique opportunity to discuss your challenges with all stakeholders in one place – if you are aiming at integrating a special component in your automation concept, you can go right from the component supplier to the automation specialist.

The dialogue between process engineers and laboratory specialists becomes essential with regard to the latest trends in the laboratory industry strongly driven by increased automation and miniaturisation. Automation aims at better reproducibility, less outside influence, higher throughput and certified conditions. At the same time, sample volumes are becoming ever smaller, culminating in lab-on-a-chip solutions where not only capillary forces are used to move samples through the microfluidic architecture, but increasingly also electrical voltage.

A major trend in the process industry, of course, is the adoption of process analytical technologies (PAT) leading to an automation of analytical processes accompanying the manufacturing workflow. Innovative techniques allow for the real-time measurement of specific parameter within the process, used for immediate process optimization and quality management. Not only do they lead to reduced laboratory costs in the process industry, but they can save millions, especially in high-value products or regulated processes, where small variations in parameters can make a whole batch worthless.

Especially in the field of integrated inline and online analytical technologies, the laboratory and analytics industry sees a large potential. But the success of these developments depends on the close cooperation between lab equipment specialists and process engineers. The congress accompanying the exhibition opens the panel to researchers and scientists who report on their latest close-to-market findings that might make their way into new products over the next couple of years.

Mathis Kuchejda, Chairman of the Association for Analytics, Bio- and Laboratory Technology of the German industry association SPECTARIS, said at ACHEMA’s economic press conference: “With its international approach, ACHEMA is the “showcase to the world” for the analytics, biotech and laboratory industry. Exhibitors do not only meet customers and salespeople from all over the world, the industry also shows its newest trends. ACHEMA functions as a lead event that makes long term trends visible. The extensive congress programme with the exchange between experts supports this leading character. Many exhibitors organise their international sales meetings around this fair, and new international contacts are made. The location at Frankfurt with its industrial surroundings offers at the same time the perfect opportunity to meet customers from the regional chemical industry.”

Welcome to Conference Season 2012

Many a conference centre will be bustling with business over the next six months, with the triad of Pittcon, Analytica and Achema taking place in close succession. After the roller coaster ride of the last few years, which started with the banking crash followed by the global slump, and the Earthquake, Tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan last year, its again time to check the pulse of the industry. Pittcon and Analytica in particular will be comparing exhibitor lists and visitor demographics, since various larger companies have decided not be present in its usual grandeur at one or the other. And by the end of June we will be thoroughly conferenced out, unless you need a conference a month (or possibly two?).

Instrument News is planning two initiatives over the next few months, which should be of interest to all of our readers. First of all, with annual reports and balance sheets for 2011 having been completed, we are starting work on our IN Leaderboard, with the aim of listing 450 companies by revenues for the calendar year 2011. In order that your company can be included in the IN Leaderboard in the July issue of Instrument News, click here to take the Instrument News Leaderboard survey.
The survey should not take more than 30 seconds of your time, and you input is highly valued and much appreciated.

Furthermore, if you would like to voice your opinion about any subject relevant to the analytical instrument industry and want it published in Instrument News, please contact me on

Roche might be in for a long battle…

After the board of director of Illumina rejected the unsolicited takeover offer from Roche on the 7th February, describing the bid as undervaluing Illumina’s “leadership position and future growth prospects”, Roche restated that it’s $5.7 billion price for Illumina was “full and fair and provides a unique opportunity for Illumina’s shareholders”. It might, however, be in for a long takeover battle, as Illumina can with some right claim that its 10-year history showed that the share slump it experienced in July last year – and which might well have precipitated Roche’s bid – was a temporary aberration.

Illumina’s annual filings, however, slightly delayed by the bid on the 25th January, indicate that while for the calendar year revenues increased by 17% to $1.06 billion, net income fell in the same period by 31% to $86.1 million.

And Roche is anything if not a determined bidder, if its takeovers of Genentech and Ventana are anything to go by. The latter acquisition in 2007/08 was a long drawn out affair, with Roche wrestling Ventana’s board into submission in almost nine months, and the management only ceding ground after a 20% rise on the initial bid. Such determination on Roche’s part, however, might let other potential interested parties think twice before throwing their hats – and money – into the ring.

Japan’s blight and the aftermath

With our thoughts going to the victims of the earthquake and Tsunami that hit a 400km stretch of coastline just North of Tokyo on the 11th March, and our attentions being drawn to the continuing instability of the Fukushima nuclear plant, the potential wider implications for the world economy, and particularly the analytical instrument industry, are being considered.

Over the last two decades, Japan already had to cope with a stagnant economy, a deflationary currency and an aging population. Despite this, the county has held on to its position under the top three economies of the world, built during the miraculous years of its rise out of the ashes of World War II, and remained not only a leading manufacturer of complete analytical instruments, but also a leading supplier of optical parts, lasers systems and detectors for our industry.

With the Japan now challenged by energy insecurity, the spectre of a reducing industrial output and the impact on its economy and that of the wider world takes shape. How many analytical instrument companies will be affected by shortages in vital components? Can other economies step into the fold? And if Japan looses some of its markets in the short term, will it necessarily regain them after the first difficulties have been overcome?

Editors’ Awards end in a tie for first place

Two privately-owned firms shared the top honors at this year’s Pittcon Editor’s Awards, while a small English firm making its first appearance at the show took a trophy under the noses of many much larger and more established firms.

A panel of attending industry journalists asked to select the most interesting and novel products making their debut at the exhibition selected two products for the Gold award out of 26 nominations. Receiving the same number of votes were the Citius LCMS from Leco Corp and the TrueSurface Microscopy Raman microscope from WITec GmbH. Targeting the metabolomics market, the Citius LCMS was described by one juror as an MS instrument having “probably the highest resolving power and best acquisition rate” of any system on the market, with comparable sensitivity to competing systems. The innovative WITec instrument makes rough material surfaces available for accurate Raman measurements. The system topographically maps the surface, so that the Raman spectrometer can be focused precisely.

The Silver award went to the Samplicity from EMD Millipore. The product uses a semi-automated approach to filter samples of various viscosities. The jury found that the equipment made a tedious and laborious everyday sample preparation procedure easier, freeing scientists to concentrate on their real work. Finally, the AstraGene UV spectrometer for the non-destructive measurement of DNA, RNA and protein samples from the Cambridge-based AstraNet Systems Ltd won the Bronze award. Here the pipette tip acts as the sample vial, so that no precious sample gets lost.

Other nomination were: the Micro ESR, Active Spectrum; MINI FLASH TOUCH, Ametek (Grabener); the Assure NMR software and the MAXIS 4G MS, Bruker; GC-Tof MS, DANI Instruments; CALIDUS micro GC, Falcon; Mini GC, Forston Labs; EGA/PY 3030D, Frontier Lab; Aqualog Absorbance/Fluorescent spectrometer, HORIBA; NanoPhotometer Pearl, Implen; Spiral Tof-Tof and InTouch Scope SEM, JEOL; Excellence Flash DSC 1, Mettler Toledo; 889IC Sample Center, Metrohm; Centrifan PE, Modular SFC: Perfinity Workstation, Perfinity/Shimadzu; Epsilon 3 EDXRF, PANalytical; LCMS 8030, Shimadzu; Niton FXL XRF, Thermo Fisher Scientific; Unifi software integration package, ACQUITY UPSFC and ACQUITY UPLC 2D Tech, Waters.

Quo vadis, Pittcon?

Welcome to the 62nd Pittcon in Atlanta, GA. Over the last three years, the regular Pittcon visitors had to see the odd missing name, notably from the circle of the leading companies.

There was Varian, who decided three years ago to quit coming to Pittcon and concentrate on its online marketing efforts. Bruker, followed by a number of European companies, reduced their booth presence to every alternate year, to make the stretched budget last longer and to accommodate Pittcon’s European counterpart, Analytica, an industry event on a two-yearly schedule.

The largest company in our industry, Thermo Fisher Scientific, told Instrument News in 2009 that it would concentrate on Northern industrial cities and scale its booth size accordingly. This year, it is PerkinElmer, who has stayed away.

What will next year’s list of cancellations look like, when in Europe Analytica and ACHEMA will be put on within a few weeks from each other? And while the 2011 Pittcon host city, Orlando, will in all probability do nothing to encourage attendance from exhibitors or visitor, will Philadelphia and Chicago be able to reverse this long-term trend?