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Listening to customers to optimize the product Franz Walt, President of Laboratory Diagnostics at Siemens Healthineers
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Listening to customers to optimize the product

Franz Walt, President of Laboratory Diagnostics at Siemens Healthineers

User-friendliness: every major lab equipment supplier knows it is the number one priority in product development. Franz Walt, President of Laboratory Diagnostics at Siemens Healthineers, explains how his company puts customers first. Siemens Healthineers developed ‘Atellica Solution’ after asking hundreds of clinical laboratory specialists and end users what they expected from a new generation of automated immunoassay and chemical analyzers. This study, conducted by an independent market research firm, was the basis of a multi-year R&D project. Siemens created a dedicated advisory board composed of lab specialists and asked them to evaluate the company’s technological innovations. The board’s feedback determined the project’s direction. “We flew in these professionals from all over the globe. My roots are in the pharmaceutical industry, so my thinking wasn’t sales-oriented, but based on needs, which is how you have to think when you’re developing drugs.
Franz Walt, President of Laboratory Diagnostics at Siemens Healthineers ‘Listening to customers to optimize the product’ User-friendliness: every major lab equipment supplier knows it is the number one priority in product develop- ment. Franz Walt, President of Laboratory Diagnostics at Siemens Healthineers, explains how his company puts customers first. Siemens Healthineers developed ‘Atellica Solution’ after asking hundreds of clinical laboratory specialists and end users what they expected from a new generation of automated immunoassay and chemical analyzers. This study, conducted by an independent market research rm, was the basis of a multi-year R&D project. Siemens created a dedicated advisory board composed of lab specialists and asked them to evaluate the company’s technological innovations. The board’s feedback determined the project’s direction. “We ew in these professionals from all over the globe. My roots are in the pharmaceutical industry, so my thinking wasn’t sales-oriented, but based on needs, which is how you have to think when you’re developing drugs. But in this case, it wasn’t about patients, but labs. The great thing about our approach—which is unique in the industry—is that when we brought together peers, they started to interact. It sparked a continuous dialogue between our engineers and the customer advisory board about the ways we could improve the product. Some suggestions weren’t feasible, of course. If the cost outweighs the bene t, then you don’t make the modi cation. But it turned out there were many things that we could do to make our product more user-friendly, ergonomic, effective, and less complicated.... I’m convinced that listening to our customers is the best way to optimize our products.” The project included engineers from other Siemens companies, too. One surprising example was when the designer of the New York subway infrastructure was asked to transpose the rail network principle into a lab solution, Walt explains. “That really helped us to optimize our tube routing.” Atellica is an add-on to Siemens’ existing clinical lab systems and offers great exibility. Labs can use the system either as a stand-alone solution, or connect it to an existing track. This enables labs to con gure their lab operations for more ef ciency, while maintaining routing and control. “Just like the Atellica modules complement each other, the whole Atellica system complements our pre- and post-analytical solutions. Inpeco’s track system is one of the main technologies for automating tube conveying and connecting systems and it is integrable with Atellica. Every lab can decide how far it wants to automate. End users are very keen to stay in control of their automated systems. That was one of the key ndings from our market research.” Although most new systems experience teething troubles, Walt claims that Atellica’s market introduction was problem- free thanks to Siemens’ close collaboration with its end users and all the feedback incorporated during development. “The commissioning of the rst systems, in 2017, went smoothly ‘Everything is robust and standardized across the globe’ and required only some minor tweaking,” said Walt. “We really learned our lesson from the software issues we ran into with our older generation analyzers. We have worked closely with our customers to replace that software with better solutions. We’ve learned from our mistakes. Everything is robust and standardized across the globe. This system is available in 300 con gurations and the assays have all been tested in production and validated in pilot projects. The system is able to keep temperature and humidity extremely stable, which improves the overall reliability of test results. Regulating authorities expressed great con dence in our new system right from the start and getting it approved has been a breeze.” 44 LABinsights | December 2017 December 2017 | LABinsights 45
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