Playing to Your Strengths: How Agilent, Bruker and PerkinElmer Define Their Focus

Laboratory solutions companies are embracing their role as customer partners. Software and service are key to this role, as they are integral to a deeper understanding of customers’ lab processes. Both are also essential to such companies’ solutions becoming embedded in lab workflows and operations, enabling greater lab productivity as well as long-term customer connections and deeper customer knowledge. As at Pittcon (see IBO 3/15/18), IBO caught up with three companies at analytica to discuss these trends in the 2018 analytical and life science instrument and lab products business, and each companies’ strategy to address them. IBO spoke with Agilent Technologies, Bruker and PerkinElmer.


Agilent Technologies

For Agilent, its strategy is a direct result of the evolution of customer workflows. Stefan Schuette, vice president and general manager, Liquid Phase Separation Division, explained how with products for 2D LC, preparation LC and OpenLAb CDS, for example, his division is addressing more complicated analyses. “[Analytical] workflows are becoming more and more sophisticated and complex,” he said. “This is really being driven by industries that are dealing with complex samples. To name a few—biopharma, everyone is talking about biopharma, but also TCM [traditional Chinese medicine] [and] the petrochemical industry.”

To better address this complexity, Agilent is taking advantage of its position as a broad-based supplier. “Because of the breadth of the portfolio, we are able to serve very complex workflows as a single-vendor solution,” explained Dr. Schuette. “In the past, they say, ‘This is the workflow I need. I take piece A from vendor A and piece B from vendor B,’ and so on. We are more and more in the position to serve these complex workflows as a single-vendor solution, and that covers not only the instrumentation, [but also] the software and then what we summarize under CrossLab,” he explained. ”That means all the required suppliers and services.”

Advancement in instrumentation and services must keep up with each other.

These types of analyses have created new needs for labs. “So these complex analyzes and workflows also require a different level of service and support,” explained Dr. Schuette. “There, Agilent is also in a very, very strong position. Agilent is currently expanding its portfolio of services.” Offerings include network-distributed solutions for compliance, a greater integration of services and consumables with services, such as onsite storage solutions managed by Agilent, and with the 2016 purchase of iLab Solutions (see IBO 6/30/16), online reservations for instruments and related cost tracking.

Thus, Agilent must not only address the new demands for analyses, but also for a lab’s operations. “[We have] tools to manage the increasing breadth of instrumentation and complexity of the lab, and also to keep track of the usage of the instrument, the utilization [and] the needs for maintenance, helping our customer manage their laboratories more effectively and efficiently,” said Dr. Schuette. In this way, he noted, advancement in instrumentation and services must keep up with each other.

In China, for example, the needs of labs are growing. “Data integrity and regulatory compliance concerns are expanding to labs outside of the pharmaceutical industry,” commented Dr. Schuette. But the needs are also country specific. “The key to success remains that Agilent will continue to develop and support differentiated solutions that enable the market participants to deliver on their objectives,” emphasized Dr. Schuette. “Hence, it is of high importance to continue having a deep understanding of the China-specific market dynamics, evolving application needs and regulations.”

Asked about the challenges for his division, he told IBO, “For the LC division, we had a year of a lot of big significant introductions. And, of course, it’s always a very exciting exercise to see these new products ramping in the market, the customers’ first experiences with the new instrumentation, collecting the feedback, learning from it [and] moving forward.” In addition, he cited data generation. “The amount of data and the complexity of data which is generated from these complex workflows and samples, that is also representing a challenge.” He told IBO, “Over the coming months, you will see several exciting announcements that add to the power of our portfolio.”



PerkinElmer’s strategy to more completely serve customers is evident by the formation of its Discovery & Analytical Solutions [DAS] unit two years ago (see IBO 9/30/16). “When we put together the DAS organization, one of the objectives was how can we become easier to do business with from the customers’ perspective, how can we look at the customers’ value chain more holistically and how do we overlay the PerkinElmer solution to that value chain,” explained Greg Sears, vice president, general manager, Organic Business Unit, for PerkinElmer.

As Suneet Chadha, PhD, vice president and general manager, Inorganic Platforms, for PerkinElmer told IBO, “Not only at the instrument level but [with] us coming together as DAS, we’ve combined our businesses that provide the informatics, OneSource service, [and] multivendor instrumentation platforms, so we can then look at customer challenges from an R&D perspective across that platform and provide solutions that are some combination of informatics or visualization platforms, tools, and aftermarket service and support.” One example of shared R&D is the QSight Triple Quad LC/MS, which is used in both diagnostics and applied markets.

In particular, OneSource is a resource for enhancing customer intimacy. “That understanding of how to manage that workflow informs how we design our products, our instruments, for example,” explained Mr. Sears. “What is the lifetime costs of ownership? How can we introduce new ways of design to make that ownership experience better? Through all those things, we’re trying, really, in so many words, to understand how we can be a better value-added supplier.”

Within DAS, the analytical business draws upon the software and informatics expertise of the life science business. One example is expanding the use of visualization software and advanced analytics for applied and routine testing. Dr. Chadha cited food testing as an example. “You have to identify country of origin, and have almost a chain of custody in terms of where that food has been, and tracking that. That brings opportunity in software. So [we provide] solutions where you can have end-to-end visibility of where the food is coming from, [and] what’s happening to it as it goes from the farm to the table.”

“We’re trying to understand how we can be a better value-added supplier.”

But addressing how to best implement software and information solutions is an ongoing process for the business, according to Mr. Sears. “I think the challenge is how do we take what we’ve just been talking about, especially with software and the cloud, and deliver it in a way that customers really see value and deliver it in a differentiated way,” he commented.

In serving applied and routine testing end-markets such as food, PerkinElmer has also capitalized upon its legacy. “Within analytical instrumentation and services, PerkinElmer’s brand name and recognition are around having rugged, workhorse instruments, and we focus a lot more on applied markets,” explained Dr. Chadha. “These are the markets that are requiring high-reliability, high-uptime instruments.”

This approach has paid off with new customers in developing countries, such as China. “We are looking at how we are bringing new instruments, new solutions, to market, making sure they are very easy and simple to use; they’ve got all the methods and training already built in, and all the applications,” explained Dr. Chadha. “Case in point, China: they have very similar needs but there are fewer samples, so they want to come in in the morning and get their instrument up and running, and then at night, they don’t need the instrument on. They want to save power.”



For Bruker Daltonics, Bruker’s MS division, the business is also focused on expansion, with advanced technology development and new markets. In particular, the division is focused on the utilization of its MS systems for proteomics analysis, according to Rohan Thakur, PhD, executive vice president at Bruker Daltonics. In the fourth quarter of 2017, Bruker Daltonics began shipping the timsTOF QTOF MS, the company’s first dedicated system for bottom-up proteomics, highlighting its combination of faster scan speeds and high resolution. Dr. Thakur told IBO, the system is aimed at academic and biopharmaceutical labs studying intact proteins.

Last year, the company also launched is first LC product line, the Elute HPLC system (pressures up to 700 bar) and UHPLC system (pressures up to 1,300 bar). This gives Bruker Daltonics its own integrated LC/MS platform to better support LC/MS workflows. The advantage of LC and MS integration are also evident through Daltonics’ latest agreement, said Dr. Thakur. Through a codevelopment and comarketing alliance with LC maker Evosep, the companies will integrate and comarket their respective timsTOF and Evosep One nano LC system for delivering label-free quantitation of around 1,200 proteins in arounds five minutes. In this way, Bruker can offer nano LC for specific instrumentation.

“Bruker can be the bridge between the experienced researchers in the West using MALDI Imaging techniques and the growing Chinese imaging MS research community.”

MALDI imaging is also a focus for Bruker Daltonics, as evidenced by last year’s purchase of acquired SCiLS (see IBO 1/15/17) to enhanced its capabilities in MS imaging data analysis, including statistical analysis and visualization tools. The investment is an example of Bruker Daltonics’ utilization of machine learnings, as part of its software strategy, said Dr. Thakur.

It is with new technologies and software enhancement that Bruker can address fast growing markets such as China. As Dr. Thakur told IBO, China is “flush with cash,” with Bruker Daltonics’ customers in the country primarily being academic and government labs. He described bright prospects for Bruker in serving high-end research, citing Fudong University as an example of one of China’s world leading research institutes. He also told IBO that the demand for research instruments in China is also being accompanied by demand for onsite services, where Bruker is growing its presence as well.

In fact, MALDI imaging is an example of how Bruker is able to bring high technology to this growing customer base and expand its presence in key markets such as neuroscience. “We aim to bring a highly differentiated innovation such as MALDI imaging MS to assist areas like degenerative brain disease, a key initiative listed in [China’s] 13th Five-year Plan,” said Dr. Thakur. “The advantage derived from the ‘label-free’ aspect of MALDI Imaging at high spatial resolution can enable neuroscientists to make fundamental new discoveries.”

In particular, Bruker can facilitate the adoption of this technique in China. “Bruker can be the bridge between the experienced researchers in the West using MALDI Imaging techniques and the growing Chinese imaging MS research community, to foster a better understanding on how these advanced scientific tools can be used to understand neuro-degenerative diseases,” noted Dr. Thakur.

As research markets remain healthy, Bruker Daltonics’ high technology, new products and software investments is expected to serve it well. “Scientific research funding remains relatively robust, and these are the markets that Bruker Daltonics serves best with its innovative products,” noted Dr. Thakur. “In this area, there do not seem to be any short-term challenges.”




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