LABVOLUTION: Paving the way for the lab of the future

Posted: 29 May 2019 | | No comments yet

The connected laboratory is now the only way forward, as the three days of the LABVOLUTION show have clearly demonstrated. Decision-makers, product developers and users from the various segments of the laboratory industry gathered in Hannover for a close look at the latest developments and future trends.

Hanover, Germany. For anyone keen on experiencing the very latest in lab technology, LABVOLUTION was the place to be. Three major trends – automation, digitization and big data – featured prominently throughout the show, as reflected by a proliferation of robots and monitors at exhibitors’ stands. “When it comes to the future of the lab industry, it was readily apparent that connectivity and automation are now at the very top of the agenda,” remarked Dr. Andreas Gruchow, member of the Managing Board at Deutsche Messe. “The name of the game here is saving time, making things less error-prone, improving the quality of products and services and easing the workload for laboratory staff. The technology and automation solutions needed to accomplish all this are available today.”

Data was among the hot topics covered at the show. Given the advent of automation and the widespread deployment of sensors and interconnected equipment, smart laboratory containers, instruments and equipment are now the order of the day, as operated and monitored using tablets and smartphones. “The success of tomorrow’s laboratories will hinge on how well the various pieces of equipment perform in digitally transformed, connected scenarios,” explained Gruchow. 

In overall terms, LABVOLUTION demonstrated it had successfully made the transition to a trade fair serving the innovative lab tech needs of the chemical, pharmaceutical, life sciences, food and medical equipment industries. More than 100 of the approximately 300 lab tech businesses present – in other words, well over a third – were first-time exhibitors.

The event’s profile was also reflected by the mix of visitors it attracted, with an upswing in attendance by professionals from the chemical, pharmaceutical, life sciences, medical equipment and food industries. The official visitor survey also revealed a greater turnout by companies active in lab technology and infrastructure, lab automation, analytics, quality management, information technology, digitization and big data. Attendance by trade visitors – running at a rate of 99 percent – was found to be on a par with that of the previous event (2017). The survey also revealed a significantly greater focus on business aspects, with a notable upswing in attendance by top managers. Over 60 percent of the show’s attendees were found to play a major role in their organizations’ investment decisions. Just over half of the visitors were attending LABVOLUTION for the first time. The share of visitors from other countries was slightly up over previous events. Roughly two-thirds of all visitors indicated they intended to return for the next edition of LABVOLUTION. “We are very content with the caliber of the show’s attendees,” remarked Gruchow, adding: “Now it’s our mission to hold course on our chosen trajectory while at the same time boosting attendance.”

A major attraction at the third edition of LABVOLUTION was once again the smartLAB showcase, where visitors could take a close look at the intelligent laboratory of the future. This joint project on the part of 14 business and R&D partners attracted big audiences right from the start, treating them to a rich array of presentations, panel talks and live demos of real-world applications. During breaks in the program, visitors had the chance to gain hands-on experience with the technologies presented within the smartLAB showcase.

Human-machine interaction was the featured theme at smartLAB 2019. In a new, hands-on laboratory at the smartLAB display, visitors were able to activate the robot arm using spoken commands like “robot, give me some adrenaline”. In fact, it was not chemicals the robot was handing out, but rather candy, packed in boxes labeled “adrenaline”, “citric acid” or “caffeine” – but that made no difference to the delighted recipients. “You can see that digitization, automation and robotics have now become ingrained in people’s consciousness,” says PD Dr. Sascha Beutel, smartLAB project manager at the Institute of Technical Chemistry from Leibniz University Hanover. “Businesses have now embarked on the journey – and smartLAB has played a role in making that happen.”

This year’s LABVOLUTION significantly beefed up its supporting program. With a total of more than 150 presentations, workshops and panel discussions, visitors from research and industry had a wide range of topics to explore. New formats included a research symposium devoted to current topics from the molecular life sciences, user workshops in the Lab USER Dialogue, and conferences organised by the Berlin-based Life Science Learning Lab Academy. Also well attended was the new LIMS & Software Area, dedicated to displays and discussion of the options offered by laboratory information systems. Established formats like the BIOTECHNICA FORUM and the Life Science Spotlight were also popular hubs for knowledge transfer and networking.

Another key focus at LABVOLUTION was on jobs and careers. Many next-generation professionals took advantage of the show’s training and job placement offerings as a way to make valuable new contacts and explore promising careers in the lab industry.

Ample opportunities for casual networking were provided at the close of the first two days of the show – namely at the smartLAB Reception and the LABVOLUTION After Work event – and the lab tech community made good use of these two occasions for fruitful dialogue.

And finally, LABVOLUTION also had a prizewinner to announce: First place in the first LABVOLUTION AWARD went to the Jülich Research Center (FZJ), for its outstanding success in creating a more sustainable and efficient daily work environment at its own lab – a success that was amplified by the overall performance of the three-day trade fair in Hanover.

The next LABVOLUTION will be staged from 4 to 6 May 2021.

Exhibitor comments on LABVOLUTION 2019:

Matthias Böhland, Product Marketing Manager Microscopy, Keyence:

“This was our first time here, and we have been very satisfied with the quality and quantity of visitors. The high percentage of trade visitors was also most impressive. And we reached exactly the target group we were aiming for: users from the life sciences, pharmaceutical and medical equipment sectors. LABVOLUTION has provided us with an ideal opportunity to showcase our products to potential users. We’ll be back!”

Birte Sartori, Account Manager, PerkinElmer:

“We were highly satisfied and had many high-caliber, interested visitors. Our position with the truck outside the hall was also well chosen – although the weather was not so great over the first two days of the event. Thanks to the truck, we were able to take large equipment with us and show it to our visitors. We had visits from students and technical assistants, but also from laboratory managers and even a few researchers – the whole range of target groups.”

Patrick Pfirrmann, Global Business Development Director, realworld one:

“We have had a really outstanding LABVOLUTION. We were at five different locations – that was rather stressful, but it’s great to see the level of curiosity in VR/AR, and the interest in trying all sorts of things out. Most of those wanting to experience our technologies were from universities or are laboratory employees. But we also had visitors from large companies and exhibitor companies at our stand.”

André Kupsch, Sales Manager Laboratory, Dental and Medical, Miele:

“This is our first time here, and we have been showcasing numerous equipment and product innovations. We clearly made the right call, because here we have met users across a whole range of sectors: biology, chemistry, in fact every industry where thorough cleaning and reprocessing is a priority. We had a lot of visitors through the stand, and excellent discussions with partners and new customers.”

Björn Thümler, Minister for Science and Culture for the German state of Lower Saxony:

“smartLAB aims to demonstrate visions and solutions, and how the laboratory environment is going to change in the era of digitization and industry 4.0. The digital transformation is going to create a whole new employment environment, opening up possibilities for new value chains, new areas of application and new process flows. The combination of our existing expertise and the future potential of digitalisation gives Germany the opportunity to maintain a position right at the head of the field, particularly in our traditionally strong sectors, such as mechanical engineering and the chemical industry. smartLAB is an outstanding vehicle for showcasing and providing a live experience of the opportunities created by digitization.”