What’s coming up in 2023?

Those who have followed my blog over the years may remember my predictions for 2022 that I made this time last year. I predicted the continued rise in the use of laboratory equipment, specifically rotavapors, outside the lab; This was undoubtedly the case as many adventurous chefs and mixologists continued to push the boundaries of what is possible in their respective industries. Regarding spray drying, I envisioned increased automation in the lab, following the trend of many household appliances, with cloud capabilities and improvements in system design. The latest instruments to have come to market have vastly increased levels of automation; too late for me, sadly, but a true game-changer for the next generation of lab technicians. Lastly, I foresaw that chromatography would become more popular in the nutraceutical segment and the cannabis industry, and it is chromatography I would like to make my primary focus today.

The New Year always provides an opportunity to look forward and to reflect. As I have embraced retirement, I have found more time for reflection. As I looked back at my predictions from last year regarding automation, I pondered the developments in chromatography that I witnessed over the many years I spent in laboratories.

My first experience of the chromatography process was very different from how it would be experienced by someone being introduced to it in a modern lab today. A chromatographer like myself, working with early chromatography systems, had to be highly trained in several areas and directly involved in each step of the separation process. Sample preparation was a particularly arduous manual process that could take hours to complete. Once the samples had been prepared, I had to continue to be involved throughout the entire process to introduce the samples at just the right time manually; Then came the data analysis, which was also performed manually. My colleagues and I would always look for methods of optimization to speed up the process. Still, all our time-saving tricks paled in comparison to the optimizations bought about by technological advances over the years.

I cannot recall one step in the chromatography process that has not been significantly streamlined and optimized. I always find it fascinating how decades-old techniques, such as chromatography or rotary evaporation, remain at the forefront of many modern applications and processes in laboratories worldwide. I see this as being the case long into the future too.

Which brings me to this blog post’s title – What’s coming up in 2023? Well, I believe many of the trends I mentioned last year would continue, and we shall see increased automation and cloud connectivity. I think these innovations will lead labs to develop new and exciting ways of working. As automation increases, lab technicians have more time for other tasks, which increases what is possible. Many things that would have been impractical can now be pursued. These developments also reduce the barrier to entry into laboratory roles, further diversifying the field. Cloud connectivity could also significantly impact how labs run and how people work.

Looking forward, there is a need for solutions to the world’s challenges. The global pandemic forced many people to work remotely or from home out of necessity; This had its advantages and disadvantages. Cloud connectivity enables professionals and specialists to be involved in laboratory processes from anywhere with an internet connection. The implications on speed, workflows, reproducibility, and safety are huge. The global pandemic also highlighted how important it is to get results quickly. Chromatography systems are integral in the developmental stage of vaccines as they are used for identifying specific antibodies involved in fighting diseases. I see the chromatography process becoming further optimized to meet the needs of fast production to stop the rise of epidemics. I also feel that systems will become more modular, allowing for custom configurations that meet specific needs and minimize waste. Certain workflows do not require top-of-the-line chromatography systems with all the bells and whistles. Modular systems offer a lower cost of entry into the world of chromatography and open new possibilities for streamlined workflows. Modern labs and processes often involve highly complex data systems. I predict that software development which has already improved things considerably will continue to create better methods and ways of handling/ processing this data. Lastly, I believe the continued push for greener, cost-effective solutions will result in improved systems that minimize waste and maximize efficiency.

If you think I’ve missed anything that you would like to see in the future concerning chromatography, let me know in the comments below. I look forward to sharing my thoughts, tips, and advice for everything chromatography-related with you throughout 2023!

Till next time,

The Signature of Bart Denoulet at Bart's Blog