Jones Chromatography is a small privately owned company formed in
1967 and now employing 62 employees and achieving a turnover of 6.7
MEUR in 1999. The company specialises in the design, development, manufacture
and distribution of a wide range of instruments, accessories and consumables
for use with High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) and Gas Chromatography
systems. It also distributes related instruments.
The company's products are applied in the medical, pharmaceutical,
and research and development markets world-wide. Approximately 25% of
the company's sales of chromatography equipment are from exports. The
company has sales offices in both the USA and Malaysia.
Jones Chromatography's main expertise prior to the application experiment
was in the area of formulating chemicals and reagents for the chromatography
process. The company's existing products applied electronics in the
form of purchased controller units, and the company developed low complexity,
typically up to 10 discrete devices, interfaces to provide power supplies
or driver interfaces for these purchased controller units.
The company manufactures a wide range of bench top temperature control
instruments for use with High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)
systems. Temperature control of a HPLC column is critical in obtaining
chromatographic reproducibility and allows greater separation efficiencies
for many applications. As the market for HPLC instruments is becoming
competitive and price dominated, a market opportunity existed to provide
a product with reduced cost, enhanced flexibility over temperature control,
and feature enhancements to provide the product differentiation.
The rationale of the FUSE application experiment was to improve the
product's temperature regulation / cost performance and to provide extra
functionality to meet this identified market need. The improved product
provides enhanced user benefits in a number of areas and a available
at reduced cost.
The introduction of a microcontroller device in the improved product
has enabled product features to be delivered:
- Improved temperature control performance by providing:
- The ability to provide temperature profiling over a time period
extending from a few minutes to many hours, with over and under
temperature audible alarms.
- The ability to link the temperature control system into a central
network to improve the process and enable greater automation.
This allows continuous monitoring and would improve the long term
- Enhanced communication facilities enabling:
- Data logging of actual process parameters for quality control
and experimental analysis purposes.
- A remote communication option via a PC modem to permit problem
solving by Jones Chromatography scientists linking into the client's
system. This will provide a much higher level of customer care.
- The ability to customise the process cycle from a remote computer.
The microcontroller performance enhancements will provide enhanced
user benefits, and these have been realised whilst reducing the costs
of the temperature controller by approximately 15%.
The duration of the AE was scheduled as 9 months. The application experiment
was on schedule to complete within this period, but due to the impact
of an unrelated business problem with the original subcontractor, this
period was extended to 18 months to allow a second subcontractor to
deliver the final prototype. This factor resulted in a total application
experiment duration of 18 months. The total cost of the application
experiment was 49 k Euro.
The increased sales expected as a result of providing the enhanced
product performance will payback these development costs within 15 months.
The return on investment (ROI) is estimated at 380% over three years.
Including industrialisation costs, which are estimated to be of the
order of 20 k Euro, this becomes 23 months and 270% respectively.