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With Pittcon 2010 only days away, LCGC brings you the definitive preview of the show from the industry's most respected experts.
With Pittcon 2010 only days away, LCGC brings you the definitive preview of the show from the industry’s most respected experts.
Joining us for this discussion are Tom Ricci of Ricci Communications; Bill Foley of Waters Corporation; Joergen Olsson and Sergio Guazzotti of Thermo Fisher Scientific; and Geof Wyatt of Wyatt Technology Corporation.
What do you think Pittcon’s new programs will add to the show this year (i.e. the online scientific community, Pittconnect, and webcast versions of selected symposia)?
Ricci:By integrating the web with the live event, Pittcon is extending the educational value of the conference for its core community. The post-Pittcon webcasts of select symposia add scheduling flexibility during the week and will allow conferees to spend more time evaluating products in the exposition. Pittcon’s new online scientific community, Pittconnect, will provide the opportunity for scientists to network and continue their interactions year round. It promises to be a great communication vehicle for both conferees and exhibiting companies. Pittcon has also created a mobile version of the website.
Foley:These are all very positive developments. The goal is to make new information available to the broadest range of decision makers possible. Pittcon, by adding these new programs, is keeping up with the changing flow of how our industry receives information.
Olsson:With the proliferation of information sources and channels I think that offering as many different opportunities for information exchange as possible is critical. There is a tremendous amount of subject matter housed in a variety of different locations, so it makes sense for Pittcon to offer as many opportunities to connect as possible. Historically, attending sessions, talks, posters, and visiting the exhibition booths often came at the sacrifice of something else and there was never enough time to be able to “do it all.” These new opportunities for information exchange will allow attendees to absorb more information than ever before.
What makes Pittcon the top conference in the industry? Has it changed at all in the last 3-4 years? If yes, how?
Ricci:The multidiscipline educational opportunities that are available, plus the opportunity to evaluate the latest laboratory instrumentation and products from the leading vendors all in one place, continue to make Pittcon the most important laboratory event of the year. While its footprint is a bit smaller than past years, Pittcon creates an interactive environment where conferees can network and exchange ideas face-to-face with other scientists. It’s a unique experience that goes beyond what can be accomplished over the Internet.
Foley:There is a huge breadth of content at Pittcon, with the broadest range of posters, presentations, and new equipment displays. By attending this one conference, you can gain information that can be important to decision makers across all laboratory dependent organizations.
Olsson:A major portion of Pittcon has always been the exhibition and the opportunity to have a first-hand look at products and speak to companies directly. Many exhibitors choose Pittcon as their launching point for new products and I think that will continue for years to come. It’s very difficult to replicate the experience, in any forum, of having one-on-one dialogue with a knowledgeable representative about a product that you are interested in. The economy will continue to have an impact on the attendees, but what we typically find is that in these difficult economic times, the attendees are more focused on the conference and are seeking as much information as possible. On the technical side, the paper and poster sessions continue to be valuable information exchange vehicles. Some of the best science in the industry has always been displayed at Pittcon and we continue to support that by our submission of posters and papers.
What trends in the industry do you expect to see at this year’s conference?
Ricci:With the support and funding from the federal government to stimulate research, I think this will be a year where conferees will focus more time on evaluating new laboratory instrumentation and vendor services to make informed choices on their laboratory purchases. Pittcon is a great place to see all of the options and determine which solutions will bring the greatest value to their lab.
Foley:Our industry is still in a very challenging economic period. There will be a continued emphasis on measuring and improving productivity. We’ll see new scientific equipment that is designed to help future proof laboratory investments.
We’ll also see software and informatics products that help streamline the workflow and help measure efficiency and equipment utilization.
Olsson:As the economy begins to recover, I expect there will be a continued premium on increasing productivity and maximizing profitability with the resources available. We anticipate that the people we will speak with at Pittcon will want to know how we can help them drive productivity and efficiency throughout their facilities. To that end, my company believes that our chromatography offering is well suited to help customers find that extra productivity and efficiency. From GC, GC–MS, ion traps, triple quadrupoles, and high resolution GC–MS my company can offer customers exactly the type of productivity gains they are looking for.
Guazzotti:In terms of LC, Pittcon 2010 will most likely see the introduction of developments to improve the efficiency of chromatographic separations while providing ways of increasing productivity. Some of the key developments to be introduced will certainly be related to pump technology, detector technology, and column technology. With further improvements of pumping technology, we will likely see a clear trend in the industry to provide systems that can operate at higher pressures than those that have been commonly used in UHPLC. This will result in technical developments in other areas such as autosampler, detection and column technologies to take full advantage of a wider dynamic range of operation in systems capable of sustaining much higher pressures. In the case of LC–MS, we will certainly continue to see developments in the design of mass spectrometers, in particular of hybrid instruments that can provide high resolution and high sensitivity. The combination of UHPLC systems, with expanded capabilities with this type of MS technology will undoubtedly further the application of UHPLC–MS in high throughput applications, such as those in drug development and discovery.
Wyatt:I expect to see more in the way of bioresearch equipment. Biotechnology is the driving force in analytical instrumentation these days, rather than the traditional chemical industry. Biotechnology's lifeblood is the development and commercialization of new products. Without cutting edge research tools, this doesn't happen.
Do you expect any major breakthroughs in technique or technology to be presented this year? If so, in which field?
Ricci:This could be an interesting year for instrument miniaturization. New advances in nanotechnology and microfluidics are leading to the development of a new category of miniaturized instrumentation. These instruments are promising for a variety of field applications, from environmental monitoring and forensics to point-of-care diagnostics, that previously could only be accomplished in the lab. Novel hyphenated MS techniques also are dominating the new science presented in the Technical Program.
Foley:Pittcon is still the major event for companies serving the laboratory industry to display their innovations. In the liquid chromatography field, we will see new systems on display that take advantage of sub-2-µm particle technology and we’ll see new chemistries introduced that provide new separations capabilities.
Olsson:It’s so difficult to predict which technologies and techniques will see major breakthroughs. Looking back at previous Pittcon Editor’s Gold award recipients the winners range from ICP to LC–MS and every place in between. Additionally, every conferee comes to Pittcon with a unique set of needs and desires and ultimately they decide what breakthroughs are important for them and how best they can implement the techniques they see on display at Pittcon.
Guazzotti:In the case of liquid chromatography, we expect to see the introduction of novel instrumentation that would be capable of providing high performance in both HPLC and UHPLC modes with extended ranges of operation and capabilities. For example, one of the obstacles when working with UHPLC has been the limitation of traditional UHPLC pumps to operate only in binary mode. Recent technological advances have permitted the development of UHPLC pumps with quaternary capabilities that provide performances that match or surpass those of traditional binary UHPLC pumps. This results in much higher flexibility in method development. I am sure we will continue to see developments in this direction, as well as in improving pumping technology to be able to provide real flexible systems that are able to operate both in HPLC and UHPLC mode without sacrificing performance.
Wyatt:My company is introducing a radical new instrument, which enables researchers to make mobility measurements on dilute protein and nanoparticle solutions without frying the samples.
Pittcon offers a wide array of information, from technical sessions and presentations to booth visits and press conferences. Any suggestions for our readers on how to fit it all in?
Ricci:Whether conferees are spending a day or a full week at Pittcon, the key is to organize objectives prior to arriving. I recommend that conferees use Pittcon’s Agenda Builder, a web-based tool that will allow them to identify and schedule their sessions of interest and identify the exhibiting companies they want to visit. They can also form groups and schedule meetings via Pittconnect prior to the conference. With so much to see, some upfront planning will help them get the most out of their Pittcon visit.
Foley:Plan, plan, and plan. This event provides an opportunity to gain a tremendous amount of information in a short period of time. If you are attending, you need to have a good idea of the challenges that are facing your department or area of expertise. Once you are well prepared and have a solid understanding of the challenges your organizations are facing, be they technical challenges or business objectives, you’ll have a solid opportunity to get an overview of possible solutions in a short period of time.
Olsson:It is easy to get distracted, so come well prepared. Set aside enough time to take care of your most immediate business before you start roaming the isles of new equipment. Have a set of actions and questions prepared and posted prior to going to the show. This will save you valuable time and help in getting the task done. And of course, wear a comfortable pair of shoes.
If you are interested in participating in any upcoming Technology Forums please contact Associate Editor Meg Evans for more information. Next month’s forums will focus on the GC and environmental markets.