Our blood is a fascinating fluid. It transports oxygen and nutrients, fends off foreign objects and closes wounds. At least in normal cases. Some people, however, suffer from coagulation disorders. These cases are unpleasant for the patient and can have severe consequences – or even lead to death. This is why early detection of a blood disorder and the hunt for a cure are so important. This requires a lot of testing. Analysis devices in laboratories and hospitals run around the clock and are able to autonomously pipette samples to deliver quick results. Such industrial automation equipment has to work with high accuracy and reliability. This places high demands on all components and the developers.
Fully automated blood analysis
Stago is a French company that specializes in analysis instruments for hemostasis diagnostics, in other words for testing blood clotting. Around 20,000 devices of Stago are in use across the world – including the StarMax. This fully automated analysis system is equipped with a three-axes robot and offers space for 215 samples and 1,000 test containers. The machine works autonomously, checks the results, compares them and monitors the processes. This saves the biologists and technicians a lot of time. Therefore the device is particularly suitable for laboratories with a large sample volume.
Precision on three axes
StarMax was introduced to the market in late 2014. Yet Stago developed its first analysis device with an X-Y-Z-axis robot as early as 1991. Even back then, mdp, maxon motor’s sales company in France, was on board. Therefore the drive specialist was contacted again during the first development phase of StarMax, to clarify the most important questions: How can precise movement be achieved on all three axes? How can the reagents be pipetted fully automatically? “In the end, mdp used their vast experience to adapt their standard products to match our requirements,” says Jean-Francois Gelin, Project Manager Innovation and R&D at Stago. “Additionally mdp and maxon contributed their specialized know-how and gave us valuable tips.”
The cooperation has now become so close that mdp assembles the complete conveyor system for the pipette racks in its own production facilities in Neyron and ships it to Stago for final assembly. Various types of the A-max DC motor by maxon are used for the movements of the rack. The diameters vary between 16 and 26 millimeter. The DC motors are highly dynamic and easy to control. Additionally mdp installs matching planetary gearheads to generate the required torques. The maxon sales company therefore is not only a drive specialist, but also an expert in the fields of mechatronics and automation. “Our company slogan – Motors, Systems, Solutions – reflects that,” says Alain Pontille, Managing Director at mdp. “We work very closely with our customers and jointly create solutions that make their products an economic success.”
This worked very well for Stago. “When we started developing hemostasis analysis machines, hardly anybody believed in our success,” says Jean-François Gelin of Stago. Today the company has more than 2,100 employees and delivers its high-end products to more than 110 countries.
Sales and parts production of maxon motor
In the fall of 2014, mdp officially became part of the maxon motor Group. Previously, the company was sales partner for France. mdp was founded in 1982 as provider of micromotors of various manufacturers. The company later grew significantly through the sales of standard products that could be shipped quickly, as well as by providing a call center for technical support. Today 41 employees work at the headquarters in Neyron, outside of Lyon – in sales, development and in production, among other departments. mdp does not only offer its customers drives, but instead manufactures complete drive systems upon request. This makes mdp one of the six global production sites of maxon motor. The other sites are in Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands and South Korea.
Coagulation disorder: What is it?
The field of hemostasis diagnostics looks at disorders that affect the coagulation (blood clotting). If the coagulation is out of whack, various ailments and disorders can occur. For example, if the coagulation is too fast, thrombosis can result, in other words, blood clots can form. This can clog the veins or arteries and in some cases even lead to a pulmonary embolism.