When Gilles Martin founded Eurofins Scientific and then bought the rights to SNIF-NMR® technology from the University of Nantes in 1987, he knew it was a calculated risk worth taking. After all, his father—Professor G.J. Martin of the University of Nantes—had developed the technology built on the principle that bioelements of organic matter always exist in their naturally occurring isotopic form. By tracking those isotopes, scientists could verify the botanical, synthetic, and even the geographical origin of a product.1
The younger Martin went several steps further. With a small core of employees, Martin and his team automated the SNIF-NMR® system. That opened up the groundbreaking technology to commercial testing laboratories around the world and allowed even non-specialists to carry out sample analyses at the push of a button.2
Becoming A Global Leader
That alone is a good story. What makes it even better is Martin’s business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit. Through an aggressive acquisitions strategy, the Luxembourg-based Eurofins Scientific is now a global network of more than 300 analytical laboratories in 39 countries across three continents. With over 28,000 employees, the company conducts more than 150 million assays a year to verify the safety, authenticity, origin, composition, purity, and tractability of just about any bio-substance and product in existence. Recently, the company also added a variety of human diagnostic services to its ever-expanding global capabilities.3
Just keeping track of Eurofins Scientific’s ambitious expansion can be exhausting. In the first five months of 2017, for example, Eurofins made 10 major acquisitions in six countries… and there is no hint of a slowdown in sight.4 Martin, who serves as Chairman and CEO of the company, is determined to build Eurofins into not merely the largest, but also the highest quality, lab provider in the world. That is no idle boast. With a portfolio of over 130,000 analytical methods for characterizing the safety, identity, purity, composition, authenticity, and origin of a host of products and biological substances—from honey, meat, and fish to GMOs, vitamins, and heavy metals—Eurofins Scientific is already helping to set the global standard for reliable, high-quality laboratory analysis.5
Working With PerkinElmer To Speed Analyses
In order for Eurofins to continue to grow without sacrificing its reputation for high quality and dependable analyses, the company needed to embrace innovation, collaboration, and develop more robust testing methods that can run thousands of readings per second for as many elements as possible. At the company’s Lidköping laboratory in Sweden, for example, scientists from Eurofins and PerkinElmer worked together to optimize production analysis using PrepFAST and FAST-FIAS techniques combined with analytical processing power of PerkinElmer’s NexION® 350D ICP-MS with Syngistix™ software, a workflow-based system designed to improve efficiencies in the laboratory.
Taking advantage of the fast data acquisition capabilities of the NexION ICP-MS and the intelligent autosampling of the SC-FAST flow injection system, the team developed what it called FAST-FIAS to analyze high totally dissolved solid (TDS) samples. “In combination with the NexION ICP-MS, the prepFAST-FIAS system offers a powerful, fast analytical method that covers a broad range of samples,” says Eurofins Scientific’s Michael Szoltysik.”6
Szoltysik says that the hyphenated NexION method is easy to set up, maintain, and produces highly accurate results.
“The NexION ICP-MS enables us to run very long runs—sometimes over 500 samples—on one calibration as the signal drift is quite minimal compared to other instruments,” Szoltysik says. “There is also very little maintenance required when it comes to cleaning the big orifice cones, which lets us run the instrument nearly every day and night of the week without stopping it completely. We change tubings, obviously, but that we can do while the plasma is on.”
Equally important, Szoltysik says the NexION 350D – FAST-FIAS system is much faster and robust than other comparable instruments.
“The biggest help we got from adopting the NexION 350D ICP-MS is its ability to implement macro elements and Mercury in ICP-MS analysis, which we could not do with the previous setup,” Szoltysik says. “This made it possible to run samples in one shot on the ICP-MS only, instead of running ICP-OES first for macro elements. As the method and the instrument are well optimized for dealing with the kind of samples we receive on a daily bases, the possibility of running all elements at once is a huge reduction of time spent on analysis and preparation.”
Increased Lab Production
When it comes to added production, Szoltysik says it is all about the time savings on sample prep and maintenance hours, which means less people doing manual dilution, calibration standard/QC preparation, and instrument maintenance, saving a month of downtime, and adding a month of productivity.
“In addition, the SC-FAST flow injection system’s easy setup makes it much easier in case of troubleshooting and can more or less be fixed on the spot rather than needing any help from outside,” Szoltysik says. “More stable instruments mean less re-do’s on samples and fewer QC-failures since there is less hands-on work with dilutions and re-preparations.”
So what does that actually mean for Eurofins? “We can now do around 40% more samples a day than before and in addition release manpower to other tasks due to removed or automated dilution” Szoltysik says.
For Szoltysik, the NexION 350D ICP-MS comes down to this – Speed. Efficiency. Accuracy. Not surprisingly, these are exactly the same qualities Eurofins Scientific embraces as it moves forward on its mission to become the largest and most reliable analytical laboratory service in the world.
- Eurofins, “The SNIF-NMR® Concept,” Eurofins website, accessed May 18, 2017.
- Eurofins, “Company Overview,” Eurofins Fact Sheet, accessed May 17, 2018.
- Eurofins, “Press Releases,” Eurofins Media Center, 2017, accessed May 17, 2017.
- Joe Whitworth, “Eurofins Acquires U.S. And Canadian Firms To Push Into Americas’ Market,” Food Quality News, May 7, 2015, accessed May 17, 2017.
- PerkinElmer, “Eurofins Lidköping,” PerkinElmer Inorganic Solutions Application Support Case Study, March 2017.