Spotlight: Testing equipment drives improvements

Materials World magazine
14 Jan 2013

Faster and more efficient detection of faults and weaknesses is key to reducing costs and cutting down time in many industries. Discovering faults in good time is also crucial for safety. Better testing equipment is a crucial part of this process and professionals from a range of fields are taking advantage of the enhanced kit available. 

Bosch Packaging Technology’s Hüttlin Service Centre in Schopfheim, Germany, provides pharmaceutical manufacturers with machines for developing and producing solid materials. The machines can perform process mixing and granulating, drying and coating, as well as capsule fitting. This creates the ideal conditions for testing new products, and perfecting individual aspects of production, as each step is supported by analytical equipment. The system is supplemented with specific training for employees, helping companies develop products in batch sizes ranging from 30 – 300kg. 

Medical researchers have also benefitted from improved testing equipment capable of analysing samples in nanoscale detail. A team of researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College, based in New York, has been able to gain a better understanding of exosomes, nanoparticles secreted from tumour cells, using nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA) technology. The team was able to analyse millions of particles and measure the number of particles and particle distribution, using the technology created by NanoSight. Previous to this work, the team had used electron microscopes, which produce more accurate results but could not process samples with the same speed. Lead study author, Dr Peinado, Instructor of Molecular Biology in the Department of Pediatrics at Weill Cornell, comments, ‘The new technology allows us to analyse millions of particles, particle by particle, in minutes giving not only numbers but also population distribution. Although the measurement of the size of the particles is not as accurate as the electron microscopy, NTA allows us to process a large number of samples in a short period of time.’  

Those working onsite with pipeline technology are also seeing improved testing equipment. The Greyline TTFM 1.0 Transit Time Flowmeter, manufactured by Greyline Instruments Inc, can accurately measure liquids from the outside of metal or plastic pipes. With a user-friendly step-by-step operating system, the device determines sensor mounting configuration and separation distance from outside the pipeline. Flow rate and flow direction are displayed on the LCD screen. This eliminates the need for pipe-cutting to obtain these measurements, which significantly reduces downtime.  

Back in the laboratory, The Diatron Group’s Pictus 700 automated clinical chemistry analyser is improving the speed at which samples can be analysed. The machine can carry out up to 720 tests per hour using a 95-position sample tray. An independent cooling system, liquid level sensing and clot detection are all integrated into the equipment. The system’s software enables strict quality control, and an unlimited number of samples can be loaded through the inbuilt laboratory information system, making analysis easier.  

Across all these industries and areas of research, testing equipment is a crucial element of research and development. Maintaining safety and ensuring accuracy in this area is critical, and these products are just some of the ways equipment manufacturers are helping to drive improvements.