Lab Equipment Supplier


The Diverse Role of a Modern Lab Equipment Supplier

Most of those who are not directly involved in some branch of science tend to have a rather limited view of the nature of a laboratory, and probably know even less about the role played by a typical lab equipment supplier in order to keep it operational. Memories of high school science classes and the occasional glimpse of forensic technicians at work in one of TV’s many crime dramas, reveal little about either the extent to which the scope of both routine investigation and research have expanded in recent years, or the quantum leaps in analytical technology that have made such expansion possible.

Perhaps one of the least recognised aspects of this subject is the surprising diversity of the businesses, services and establishments that are now dependent upon these new technologies, and the means with which to apply them on a daily basis. Many, of course, will be aware of the more obvious requirements of medicine, whether for diagnostic purposes, and conducted by private or state-funded pathology services, or for the many research projects being undertaken by the medical and science faculties of South Africa’s universities.

In addition to the medical fraternity, however, and in the light of present-day regulations, many of the nation’s industries would be unable to function without the support of a reliable lab equipment supplier to provide the reagents and items of specialised apparatus needed for their extensive quality control testing programmes. Among those that depend heavily upon the services of specialist companies, such as IEPSA, are the food and beverage industry, which includes brewers and vintners, the manufacturers of pharmaceuticals, and local municipalities responsible for the purification of drinking water, to cite just a few.

One of the biggest challenges facing both medicine and industry alike is the need to handle ever increasing numbers of tests, whilst also ensuring that the results of their testing are both accurate and reproducible, Manufacturers have responded to these needs with a range of automated machines and rapid test kits designed to streamline existing applications, or to provide new and improved procedures for use in most fields where bulk testing is performed routinely.

Today, in a typical pathology department, for example, a lab equipment supplier might be called upon to deliver automated analytical equipment, capable of measuring several metabolites simultaneously in a continuous flow of samples to the clinical chemistry division. The haematology division might order an automated cell counter that is not only able to provide total red and white cell counts, but also to differentiate the latter into individual cell types based on their morphology. The medical microbiologists have been similarly served with machines to automate the plating function and to perform colony counts.

Quality control in the food and beverage world has also experienced major improvements in both reliability and capacity, with the development of compact test kits for the rapid detection and quantitation of nutrients and other constituents in foods such as edible oils, vegetable purees, dairy products and eggs. In addition to quality testing, brewers also need gas detectors to ensure worker safety.

Not surprisingly, not every lab equipment vendor in South Africa is equipped to cater for all of these needs. One that is, however, is Pretoria-based IEPSA – a preferred supplier for almost four decades.

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