Medical and Commercial Use of Lab Equipment in South Africa

Only those who actually work with lab equipment on a daily basis are likely to fully appreciate both its diversity and the remarkable extent by which it has evolved during the course of their careers. Even more surprising, perhaps, is the extent to which its use has spread to so many new fields. Where once a laboratory was something that would have been found almost exclusively in medical and public health departments, and in teaching or research establishments, such as high schools, as well as the science faculties of universities, there can be few manufacturing businesses that do not also depend upon their use for quality control purposes today.

Rivalling even the various fields of medicine and the pharmaceutical industry in their need for new and improved items of lab equipment, those engaged in the manufacture of foodstuffs and beverages now account for a substantial proportion of the overall demand for such items in South Africa. Tougher labelling regulations with regard to the nutritional content of foodstuffs, the permissible levels of colourants and preservatives, the presence of potential allergens and of other contaminants, have all served to fuel a demand for more stringent testing within this industry,

While greater accuracy has become a major requirement, so too have testing procedures that can be applied to large numbers of samples simultaneously and provide those accurate results more quickly. Change, then, has involved far more than anything quite as simple as upgrading from the use of litmus paper to a pH meter. Brand new methodologies, many of which involve complex biochemical and immunological reactions, are now conducted with the aid of specialised lab equipment that has been purpose-designed to conduct and monitor these types of reactions.

In general, the manufacture of such advanced instruments and apparatus remains beyond the scope of local industry, and so the bulk of such needs must be met through importation. Today, IEPSA is recognised as the leading importer of the instrumentation, reagents and disposables that have now become essential to all who may be involved in teaching science, conducting research, diagnostic procedures, numerous biomedical applications, public health matters, and commercial or industrial quality control.

From the more modest operation launched in 1980, which was limited to importing a number of specialised diagnostic products for use locally and in other parts of southern Africa, we have since grown to become the major supplier of advanced lab equipment to the region. Today, we cater for the needs of numerous branches of medicine, many of which have only emerged in the last couple of decades. The apparatus required for the cryopreservation of tissues used in transplantation, or for the ova and sperm for in vitro fertilisation techniques, is just a single example of the sophisticated offerings that are now available from IEPSA.

It is, however, not sufficient for us to simply ensure that we supply top-quality items from world-renowned manufacturers. It is also of critical importance that we remain in a position to offer our clients a comprehensive and professional support service. To this end, our staff undergoes extensive training in the use of all items in our product portfolio. In turn, they are dedicated to the task of passing on their knowledge and skills to the many users of our lab equipment.

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