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Helping to remove the chokehold in discovery chemistry.

A GLOBAL PRODUCTS SUPPLIER // Chemical Purification Product

This repeat Logic PD client wanted to combine chromatography and detection technologies into a single, easy-to-operate instrument to automate, increase accuracy, and reduce processing steps for chemical purification—ultimately freeing chemists from tedious purification so they can conduct scientific discovery.

CHALLENGE

Chromatography is a technique chemists use to separate mixtures. Chemists can spend hours setting up, staging, and monitoring chromatography instruments in order to extract the components they need to conduct exploration and discovery. If multiple users need to access the same chromatography machines, a process fails, or a machine leaks or breaks down, the loss of valuable time and product samples quickly adds up. Moreover, existing machines are unable to accurately detect all compounds, and desired components sometimes require additional processing steps. As one chemist explained to Logic PD, “Time is of the essence and purification is the chokehold in discovery chemistry.” Having previous success working with Logic PD, this client returned for help with Discovery and Ideation research and complete product lifecycle development services to bring their product to laboratories around the world.

SOLUTION

Having previous success working with Logic PD, this client returned for help with discovery research and product development services. Logic PD’s Industrial Design, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Systems Engineering, Embedded Systems and Manufacturing teams collaborated with the client throughout each stage of new product development from market and user research through concept development and product refinement to alpha and beta prototyping through production and assembly.

As part of its discovery research, designers from Logic PD’s Industrial Design team traveled extensively with the client to numerous laboratories to observe and interview chemists, their assistants, service technicians and sales people. The Logic PD Industrial Design team wanted to understand current methodologies, equipment, tools and safety measures associated with chromatography; capture user wants and needs; and understand habitual behaviors, limitations and opportunities imposed by lab environments.

Logic PD’s Industrial Design team quickly learned that space is a premium in laboratories. The integration of multiple subsystems managing the RFID, motors, and heaters combined with the fluidics system had to fit into a single enclosure and still meet ergonometric requirements.

In addition to space, the Industrial Design team intensely considered the user experience. Based on the Discovery Phase research, the team understood that the new product needed to deliver efficient component layouts, physical geometries and user interfaces that anticipated and intuitively guided chemists and other users through each stage of use from set up and sample processing to post-documentation, cleaning and maintenance.

The team created an aesthetically compelling design that guided the user through product functionality, and also embodied the client’s brand and communicated their commitment to quality and advanced technology.

Logic PD engineers created 75 custom-developed parts along with the fluidics and electronics. They worked with the client to strategically integrate all subsystems to protect the 11 electrical boards from solvents and enclose it all within an industry-first compact ergonomic design.

The Logic PD team worked with the client to combine more than 30 sensors (including optical, thermal, pressure, and RFID) and over 20 actuators (including 9 motors, 12 valves, a fraction collector, and a complex, gradient valve-based fluidic system). Implementation of RFID tags allowed maximum speed and efficiency by recognizing, monitoring and auto populating cartridges, trays, and flow rate for workflow assurance. The development of a sophisticated software algorithm integrated multiple detector signals through advanced signal processing allowing for the fractioning and collection of previously undetected or unfractionated compounds.

System architects took advantage of Logic PD’s System on Module (SOM) technology for increased time-to-market and the ability to upgrade to next generation embedded products. Logic PD also leveraged its extensive experience with multi-processor architectures and created a system powered by Windows XP for the instrument’s graphical user interface (GUI), using the Microsoft. Net platform to reduce time and effort in GUI development. An FPGA, using embedded softcore and discrete logic, provided real-time control of all sensors, actuators, pumps, and motors in the system. In addition, by connecting the device directly to the laboratory information management system, the input of results could be automated to eliminate extra, manual steps for technicians.

Through close collaboration with engineering and manufacturing teams, Logic PD anticipated potential engineering changes and manufacturing refinements, giving the customer an accurate early interpretation that was mirrored in the final product. Logic PD’s concurrent engineering process leveraged new product introduction (NPI) procedures to provide manufacturability assessment early in the Development Phase as well as continuous verification to ensure process capability and reduce redesigns.

RESULTS

The resulting product combined chromatography technologies and an extensive list of product enhancements to give the chemistry community never before seen efficiencies in product verification, purification, and production. Logic PD’s integrated product development and concurrent engineering reduced risk, time, and cost for the client to launch the first of its kind chromatography product. The product launched in February 2009 and has since received multiple instrument and product innovation awards. Logic PD continues to manufacture and support the product today.

CLIENT PROFILE

This Logic PD client is a global supplier of products for petroleum refineries, industrial applications, food and beverage packaging and commercial and residential construction. The company is well established with operations in more than 40 countries.

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