Biotechnology, molecular diagnostics, liquid handling and automation processes rely on high performance analytical measuring instruments. Manuela Beil-Peter tells about the roles and responsibilities of the Liquid Handling and Automation Business Unit of Germany based Analytik Jena.  

Analytik Jena is recognised as a global leader in analytical instrumentation. This Jena, Germany based organisation has both a reputation and passion for developing complex innovative devices for the Life Science, Lab Automation and Analytical Chemistry environments. The organisation specialises in precision and reliability, responding to the demanding needs of a varied client base through its portfolio of devices, efficient solutions and in-depth industry knowledge.

Manuela Beil-Peter leads the Liquid Handling and Automation Business Unit. In such a multi-faceted environment, customised solutions, vision and technological expertise are vital. Here, she describes the important intricacies of the day to day duties carried out by her team and shares the secret of Analytik Jena’s success.

The global liquid handling market comprises a broad range of industry sectors with an increasing need to evolve alongside the research and development requirements of modern laboratories. How does Analytik Jena, and in particular the Liquid Handling and Automation Business Unit cope with the unique demands of each specialist industry?

Regardless of the individual industry sector, our overall target is to deliver sustainable success to all our customers. We achieve this by employing enthusiastic, ambitious industry specialists who are dedicated in proving their commitment and excellence to drive standards, whilst always maintaining a friendly, collaborative value-driven approach where we view our clients as personal partners.

Personal interaction, co-operation and partnership are key factors which help us to understand individual complexities. We work closely with our clients and ensure each process is explained in depth and agreed upon quickly and efficiently.

We also need to be aware of market trends and have the capacity to implement relevant and appropriate technologies. For instance, being able to fully understand the human body‘s reaction to cancer, paves the way for new more targeted treatments – including the use of biotherapeutics, personalised medicine, gene and stem cell therapies, etc.  We must be able to support both the large pharmaceutical giants as well as smaller start-up companies and research institutions in achieving scientific excellence and improving quality of life.

Each liquid handling system is one of a kind, and whilst perhaps it would make greater economic sense to standardise our systems, we know that a customised experience is far more valuable to our clients.  However, we must recognise the importance of cost efficiencies, and therefore although we do work with modular standard components, we take time to treat each client with deserved respect and are open and honest in discussions.

So it’s a continual process of learning and evolving, adapting to needs and responding with new devices and solutions?

Absolutely. As the work of our clients gathers pace in terms of its complexity, we  need to match this with robust, state of the art devices and solutions.

Last year I personally spent two months at our US operations, using the opportunity to visit as many clients as possible. From this I gained valuable insight into how our products are perceived – elements which are appreciated, areas for improvement and general feedback.

The East Cost in particular has witnessed growth in the number of start-up enterprises alongside large pharmaceutical companies and university research laboratories. Being small in nature, they tend to focus on one specific application and it’s a real challenge to develop devices and solutions at such a pace. We recognise the importance of this and observing the markets will always be a crucial factor in successful business development.

Can you give us an example where such close collaboration with clients has resulted in a market leading solution?

The sample preparation system for the MALDI-TOF mass spectrometer – a rapid and sensitive technique for providing molecular weight information of compounds like proteins, peptides, nucleic acids and carbohydrates – emerged owing to close collaboration with customers. It’s used for high throughput screening, and has the functionality to co-crystalise 1536 samples with a suitable matrix on a metal plate within minutes. This method of analysis is accurate, fast, low cost and is an indispensable tool in clinical microbiology laboratories. It has vast future potential and we’re delighted to be a market leader in this cutting-edge technology.

Are there any particular trends you envisage as being interesting areas to Analytik Jena as a whole?

We see potential growth within nucleic acid extraction. SmartExtraction technology, which won the accolade of ‘New Product Award 2018’ at the Washington SLAS Conference & Exhibition, has enjoyed unforeseen success for a product yet to be brought to market. Nucleic acid can be extracted at the touch of a button – and we consider this influential device as a worthy synergy result within Analytik Jena. Chemical analysis is an area for future development. Chemical laboratories still rely on a vast amount of manual labour and we strongly believe that our expertise in implementing automatic solutions will enable cost and labour-saving efficiencies. We are interlinked within Analytik Jena in many ways – product management, research and development, administration and sales, for example, and this can only serve to our advantage in enhancing the business.    

Software solutions are a further selling point, which have already helped us to win contracts. Clients need interfaces to process large amounts of data and also to transfer and interpret them in their databases. Service quality is an important purchasing decision factor. Equipment failure can have immeasurable consequences both in terms of data lost, time for recovery and material costs. Guaranteed reliability within software solutions is an area of interest and growing importance.

Where are your main markets geographically and are there regions earmarked for future expansion?

Analytik Jena currently provides an extremely solid service across Germany, Austria, Switzerland, UK and the US, but we view Asia as having vast potential as a key target market. We are establishing ourselves within Thailand, Korea and Japan, although with the global pharmaceutical industry continuing to outsource research and screening to India and China, these are also exciting avenues to explore.

And finally, on a personal level, what advice would you pass on to aspiring unit leaders who may wish to emulate your success?

Follow through with your decisions, allow for mistakes, stand by them and learn by them. Leadership is a continual learning curve based on trust, and I believe it is important to show this through delegating responsibility, offering constructive feedback and encouragement.

A thorough knowledge and understanding of your products and services must be backed up with a commitment and a desire to fulfil a vision. Whether it’s about improving quality of life, or providing excellent customer service, enthusiasm, desire and a willingness to collaborate effectively with colleagues and clients are certain steps to success.

Analytik Jena is a leading provider of high-end analytical measuring technology, industry and products in the field of biotechnology and molecular diagnostics. For further information on specialist solutions and areas of expertise, including Liquid Handling and Automation, please see