Three decades of competence development in the field of analytical solutions
Our company offers solutions in the field of chromatography-mass spectrometry for organic, isotope and elemental analysis, performing the functions of the exclusive distributor of Thermo Scientific in Russia and the CIS. We do everything related to the promotion, delivery of equipment and user support. At present, thousands of scientific and industrial laboratories in Russia use the analytical solutions of Thermo Scientific supplied by our company. In addition, together with Thermo Scientific we have created the InnoChrom company, which produces gas chromatographs and analytical complexes based on them.
How did you come up with the idea of organizing your own production of analytical instruments?
The idea arose in connection with the declared state course on import substitution. We have personnel with unique competencies, and many technical specialists work in our company for more than ten years and know the equipment thoroughly. These competencies had to be used. On the other hand, we have a strong partner – Thermo Scientific, which supported our initiative. The production is located in Moscow and is oriented to the markets of Russia and the CIS. First, we created a basic instrument – the gas chromatograph Trace 1310 ГХ, and now the emphasis is on developing techniques for applied problems. I want to note that we have a lot of interesting ideas related to the development of the InnoChrom, and already this year users of devices will receive pleasant surprises that will help them to work more productively.
Thermo Scientific participates in the InnoChrom and supplies a number of components and spare parts for the Trace 1310 ГХ. In addition, our success in the sales of the new gas chromatograph has been awarded by the corporation. The fact is that this device successfully supplements the range of solutions and allows to attract users who for one reason or another give preference to Russian equipment. Thus, participation in InnoChrom allowed Thermo Scientific to strengthen its position in the Russian market.
What other vendors are working with MS-Analytica?
We are committed to our main partner, and cooperation with other equipment manufacturers is limited to the related solutions that are needed to implement projects related to the delivery of Thermo Scientific instruments. For example, if uninterruptable power source or nitrogen generator are required to run an analytical complex, we purchase them from companies that manufacture the appropriate equipment to provide our customers with a comprehensive solution.
For what reason, in your opinion, do customers choose MS-Analytica as a supplier of equipment?
The main thing is the coordination of work and the highest competence of the team of our company. In the first years, the majority of orders came from scientific and educational institutions, so our specialists learned how to effectively implement non-standard projects that require in-depth study of the subject of research. If routine tasks are solved in production laboratories, when the instruments and methods used are regulated by standards and other normative documents, an entirely different approach to the selection of equipment is implemented in research institutions. Our employees are able to understand the problem that faces the customer, to determine the range of methods used, taking into account the development prospects, so that the device can be used in future research. And such a detailed analysis is practiced in all projects without exception, including standard ones. We try to take into account all the factors on which success will depend, including the scope of research, the required productivity, economic indicators, the workflow, compatibility with existing equipment and consumables, etc. Cooperating with us, customers receive turnkey analytical solutions.
Do all customers really need turnkey solutions?
An experienced user, of course, can perform the creative part of the work himself, in order to turn a measuring device into an analysis tool. But most customers still prefer to receive a comprehensive solution, that is, a device with preinstalled techniques and a complete set of everything that is necessary for their implementation from sample preparation to the means of processing the results. In this case, the user can start working with minimal time and cost.
What developments of the Thermo Scientific can be particularly noted?
There is no analogue to the patented Orbitrap technology. We are especially pleased that its main developer is the Russian scientist Alexander Makarov. Orbitrap is now the "mainstream" in proteomics, biopharmaceuticals and other areas where it is necessary to analyze large molecules. A lot of scientific publications, including those made by Russian scientists, illuminate the results of studies performed using our instruments with orbital traps.
What is the demand for analytical equipment in Russia?
In the last few years there have been changes, which can be called revolutionary. If relatively recently in many pharmaceutical, medical and veterinary laboratories old methods were used, then now the standard is the chromatography-mass spectrometry. This was greatly facilitated by the measures taken by the state, in particular the Pharma-2020 program, the new technical regulations of the customs union, the acts of the Ministry of Health. The results are very impressive: in a short time, a new method of analysis was introduced, mastered and transferred to the routine, a necessary normative and technical documentation was created, and personnel was trained.
The sharp increase in the number of installed equipment did not lead to problems caused by a shortage of qualified personnel?
At some point, there was indeed a shortage of personnel, but we must give credit to the technical universities, which reacted very quickly to the situation and organized training in new specialties for various industries. Today, even in the regions, the problem of providing laboratories with human resources is solved in general. If necessary, we help in the training of specialists and offer various training programs. When installing the device, basic training is conducted to teach laboratory staff how to work with new equipment, but there are also expanded programs, including theoretical courses.
What, in your opinion, is the optimal service life of the instruments?
The period of obsolescence of the device depends on the area of its application. In science, the rate of obsolescence is maximum, and the mass spectrometer can exhaust its capabilities very quickly, for example during the year. In scientific centers that deal with the most advanced research, there is even the practice of purchasing instruments for specific scientific projects, after which the equipment is sold. In Russia, such precedents also exist. On average, the term of obsolescence of a scientific instrument is about five years, and Thermo Scientific uses this indicator completely updating the model line approximately during the same period. Although, if the device has proven to be a reliable, inexpensive and easy-to-use solution, it can be left in the product portfolio for a long time, for example, Thermo Scientific has been supplying a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer detector for HPLC, which is exceptionally well suited for routine tasks, for nearly a decade.
The physical life of the device largely depends on how carefully the manufacturer's recommendations for maintenance are observed. We are in close connection with each laboratory, we try to do our best, offering interesting terms of service, so that the equipment will serve as long as possible. Our customers, who take care of the equipment, use the devices for ten, twenty or more years.
What service programs are offered after the factory warranty?
The program, which provides for an annual visit of a service engineer with maintenance and the necessary replacement of consumables and parts, is most popular. If it is very important that the devices are permanently maintained in working condition, we offer a special service – the storage of an individual reserve of spare parts and / or consumables in our warehouse, and repair can be done within 24 hours after receipt of information about the breakdown. It should be noted that we and Thermo Scientific pay great attention to the development of online remote diagnostics. More than 50% of the problems, especially in the first year of operation of the equipment, when the user often makes mistakes, are solved by our service engineers remotely.
Are additional services in demand in Russia?
Currently, up to 70% of users are interested in the terms of post-warranty service even before the purchase of equipment, and the fact that we can offer various programs, maintain large stocks of spare parts and consumables, and can quickly eliminate faults, is our competitive advantage.
How is the methodical support of users organized?
We pay great attention to this issue, since the delivery of the analytical solution implies a comprehensive support, starting from the formulation of ready-made techniques for typical tasks, and to helping in the creation of new, unique techniques. We have a demonstration lab in the Lomonosov Moscow State University, in which the testing and demonstration of techniques is carried out. Also, our specialists can visit users, in particular, this service has been provided to several customers from the CIS countries.
How is the work with regional clients organized?
We cooperate with a large number of partner companies that work in the regions, and we assist them in implementing projects and solving complex problems. They have all the necessary information for sales and service, so we can quickly respond to all customer requests in the regions.
Are foreign experts involved in solving the problems of Russian users of instruments?
We consult with colleagues from Thermo Scientific, but in most cases, the high qualification of our employees is sufficient to solve all problems. Foreign specialists take part in training seminars and trainings, which are held in the demonstration lab.
Is the software that comes with the tools localized?
Thermo Scientific has a very large portfolio of software, and practice shows that not all products require localization. For example, software for special tasks, as a rule, is not translated, because the specialists using them are fluent in English.
What are the plans for the development of company's business?
As already noted, much attention will be paid to the development of the InnoChrom project. Another important area is the development of competencies where they are not yet at the highest level. Our specialists must have thorough knowledge of each field of application of analytical instruments, including knowledge of the requirements of normative and technical documentation, the specifics of workflow, critical points, trends and modern approaches implemented in world practice. In other words, when we offer our products, we must think as the head of the laboratory, understand what he needs, what is important to him, how he works, what are his motives. Only by putting yourself in his place, you can offer a really optimal solution for the challenges that the laboratory faces.
Thank you for the interesting interview.
The interview was prepared by D.Gudilin and O.Lavrentieva