Pittcon Attendance Increases as Conference Moves North

This year, Pittcon traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The conference and exhibition ran from March 16 to March 21, attracting 12,542 attendees, according to organizers’ estimates as of March 21. Final figures were not available at the time of publication. This would be a 9.9% increase from last year’s event in Orlando, Florida (see IBO 3/15/18). Next year’s Pittcon will be held March 1–5 in Chicago, Illinois.

Seven hundred and thirteen exhibitors were on the floor, the same as a year ago. Exhibitors returning to the show this year after not exhibiting last year included Mettler-Toledo and Sartorius. Absent this year were Eppendorf and Ocean Optics, among others. Also, many companies had reduced their booth size compared to past years, including Bruker, Hach and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Although Pittcon may not be the hub of press announcements and new products that it once was, the show did mark announcements by Rigaku and Anton Paar. Rigaku debuted a new branding strategy to highlight the unification of the company’s operational units. Anton Paar USA detailed changes to its operational structure, forming four regional organizations in order to be closer to its customer base, provide faster response times and offer more training centers.

Companies were especially focused on ease of use and solutions that extend beyond instrumentation alone, most notably larger firms, according to press conference presentations and new product introductions.

Companies were especially focused on ease of use and solutions that extend beyond instrumentation alone, most notably larger firms, according to press conference presentations and new product introductions. As noted at their press events, for Shimadzu Scientific Instruments (SSI), Thermo Fisher Scientific and Waters, ease of use is designed to grow the markets for LC/MS and other instrumentation techniques into new applications and user bases, promising increased productivity with quicker turnaround and less operator training.

A key enabler for great ease of use is software, and many companies highlighted new interactive capabilities that are fully integrated into their systems, including automated instrument set-up and monitoring as well as user guidance, and remote system diagnostics. Instruments showcasing these new features included Waters’ BioAccord LC/MS (see Pittcon 2019 New Product Hightlights) and SSI’s Nexera UHPLC series (see IBO‘s Top New Products at Pittcon 2019).

Software was also a topic at Bruker’s press conference. The company discussed its two recent software company purchases of Arxspan (see IBO 3/15/19) and a majority stake in Mestrelab (IBO 12/15/18), and commented that it plans to build a dedicated software business. Arxspan provides cloud-based solutions for the biopharma market, while Mestrelab, a chemistry software provider, supports data processing as well as data analysis for techniques such as NMR, MS and molecular spectroscopy across a range of markets. At is press conference, JEOL took the opportunity to highlight additional developments in CRAFT (Complete Reduction to Amplitude Frequency Table) software for NMR, developed by Dr. Krish Krishnamurthy, which uses Bayesian analysis to provide direct time-domain analysis of spectra.

Software was also discussed as part of companies’ ongoing goal to meet customers’ need for complete workflows and application-focused solutions. Systems announced at the show to address specific applications included Bruker’s MIRA IR-based solution for milk analysis, as well as the Thermo Scientific’s Beer Craft software package for its GENESYS UV-Vis instruments (see Pittcon 2019 New Product Hightlights), and its dedicated cannabis analyzer and workflow available for sale in Canada. Waters emphasized how the new BioAccord system is more than an LC/MS system, emphasizing the company’s new focus on fit-for-purpose solutions.

Waters also detailed two planned application-based introductions for the system, which will address synthetic peptide and synthetic oligonucleotide analysis based on new software and consumables. Other product previews disclosed at companies’ press conferences were SSI’s semi-prep SFC system (see Pittcon 2019 New Product Hightlights), developed in cooperation with the Enabling Technologies Consortium, which was formed by pharmaceutical and biotech companies to collaborate on pre-competitive solutions. Metrohm announced that its latest titrator, the EcoTitrator, an entry-level affordable system meant to replace hanging glass burettes, will be introduced later this spring.

Similarly emphasizing more workflow-oriented solutions from the company, Thermo Fisher debuted a dedicated workflow for dioxin testing, the Thermo Scientific Dioxin Analyzer. Among its components are the company’s sample preparation consumables, TSQ 9000 triple quadrupole GC-MS/MS system with Advanced Electron Ion source, columns and software for isotope dilution quantification. The company called it one of the first workflow launches from its Customer Solution Centers. Highlighting the Centers, the company described them as dedicated to method development and customer collaboration, for example, versus a previous instrument-centered focus. JEOL also unveiled a solution for dioxin testing in the form of its JMS-TQ4000GC, which is distinguished by several features, including a short 15 mm collision cell and a detector that shuts off between pulses in order to reduce noise.

SSI announced a dedicated Hemp Analyzer system, providing a choice of 3 HPLC methods and available with a 3-year warranty and preventive maintenance. Also highlighting its solutions for cannabis testing was Spectro Analytical, with an electrothermal vaporation ICP for analysis of heavy metals in plant tissue for direct sample entry with no dilution required. Touting end-to-end solutions was labware firm DWK, with consumables for research, such as sampling storage, sample preparation and commercialization. Its industrial workflows cover collection, preparation, processing, testing and analysis.

As SSI has extended its cannabis testing solutions with new systems, TA Instruments discussed the ongoing extension of its materials testing products through additional accessories for its Discovery Series, including a microscopy extension for DSC and humidity system for its new hybrid rheometer(see Pittcon 2019 New Product Hightlights). Also adding to existing product lines was CEM which released Disposable Glass Liners for use with its MARSXpress Plus vessels to relieve the bottleneck of vessel handling and cleaning. At its booth, Metrohm displayed an extension to its OMNIS titrator platform to include Karl Fischer moisture analysis.

As with Waters’ BioAccord, some companies also indicated an emphasis on systems designed to move closer to late-stage biologics development and even manufacturing. CEM discussed the third-generation of its Liberty Prime peptide synthesizer system for scale-up for peptide drug development. The company stated that advantages include speed with the ability to make 1 kg of peptides in one day and thus the capability to address personalized medicine to meet patient needs quickly.

Also at press conferences, two private companies updated their sales information. Anton Paar, announced 2018 sales of €366 million ($431 million at €0.85 = $1), with 20% of sales invested in R&D. CEM revenues totaled $102 million last year, with 12.5% of sales going toward R&D. Raman microscopy firm WITec disclosed an installed base of more than one thousand microscopes. The success of such companies demonstrates the analytical instrument industry, both bigger companies and smaller companies, continue to meet customer needs.




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