The Pittsburg Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy is the premier annual laboratory science conference. The 66-year-old summit sets the tone for the rest of the year, with manufacturers debuting new analytical instrumentation that is sure to play a role in future research discoveries, along with lecturers delivering technical insights into their groundbreaking work, including how to propel the industry forward.
This year is no exception. For this reason, R&D Magazine has asked three industry experts—Michael Allen, vice president of marketing at Metrohm USA; Michael McGinley, manager, Core Products, Phenomenex; and Kelly Williams, product manager, Labconco Corp. to share their expectations for Pittcon 2016 prior to attending the conference March 6-10 in Atlanta.
R&D: What technology trends do you expect to see at Pittcon 2016?
Allen: Just like the consumer electronics space, scientists expect more features and performance in a smaller, lighter and competitively priced platform. To address this demand in analytical chemistry, I believe the trend will be toward more application-dedicated instruments.
McGinley: I expect to see and hear further application development and implementation of miniaturization of all areas of analytical science (both spectroscopy and analytical chemistry). Sensitivity, reliability, accuracy, and cost containment will continue as ongoing trends across all industries. Automation of analytical solutions will also be featured widely at the meeting.
Williams: Instruments and equipment that are smarter in that they give better results while requiring less resources as well as less human interaction and designs that incorporate smart, touchscreen technology that automate tasks and reduce the chance of human error.
R&D: How do you expect Pittcon 2016 to be different from Pittcon 2015?
McGinley: Since 2009 we have seen an emphasis on applications other than biopharmaceutical, including clinical, food, environmental, and forensics. This goes for vendors and attendees. Especially this year, we are expecting renewed interest in analytical science innovations.
Williams: More touchscreens, Bluetooth and advancements in processing big data.
R&D: What technology, technique or specific research application are you most looking forward to seeing at the conference?
McGinley: I continue to be excited about innovations in particle morphologies for improved liquid chromatography (core-shell, superficiously porous silica, poroshell, etc.). SFC and innovations in mass spectrometry also are exciting topics for this year. The use of automation in sample preparation and analysis workflows will be of interest for myself and others at the show.
R&D: What technologies/trends do you expect to see in the industry beyond 2016?
Allen: When it comes to laboratory analytical chemistry, the trend will be toward software-driven data collection and analysis. As operators continue to be responsible for more instruments and an increasing workload, instrument companies will respond to that need through automation and software-assisted measurements. What used to be known as software method files will become full SOPs for an analytical procedure – driven by the instrument.
McGinley: I expect continued interest in analytical analysis (chromatography and mass spectroscopy) in the years ahead with automation playing an ever more important role in reducing costs and improving throughout. Informatics will also continue to increase in importance as new technologies generate more data that need to be properly interpreted to deliver meaningful answers.
Williams: Trend to do more with less. Use less chemicals for tests, protect the environment and increase lab safety, as well as investments in science that make the world a safer place, such as food safety.
R&D: How would you sum up the future of the laboratory industry?
Allen: In the short term, I believe the focus of laboratory instruments will be repetitive analysis. In the future, the performance of laboratory instruments will scale to more closely match the practical needs of the laboratory customer. Integration with and automation of the workflow will be a key area of emphasis. The focus will mostly likely be safety, speed and cost per analysis.
McGinley: Especially with continued advancement in separation and detection technologies, I expect analytical science to continue to expand its ability to answer challenging scientific questions about the world around us. Be it biopharmaceutical, environmental, food science, or clinical chemistry, I foresee an expanding need for analytical analysis to improve the quality of our products and safety of our environment.
Williams: Laboratory Industry has a very positive future. Research and discovery is what advances our knowledge of the world and ultimately advances our everyday life. People want to advance and will continue to invest in a better future for the world.
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