Product development, prototyping and manufacturing for a breakthrough food safety testing start-up.
“We were really very impressed with ITL. As it turned out, our eyes were opened by them, to entirely new levels of design for manufacture, qualification and production. The ITL team became a fundamental part of everything we did and the depth of knowledge and resources was key to our progress”
Ray Coker- Founder
The essential task of transporting bulk foodstuffs around the world is a huge and expensive one, made even more challenging by the need to ensure they are being kept fit for human consumption, at every stage of delivery from producer to consumer
ToxiMet’s ToxiQuant system delivers a fundamental improvement to the way the whole industry can function with on-site useage as well as never-before seen levels of speed, cost-effectiveness, accuracy and specificity in food safety. In particular, it allows exporters in emerging economies to make active process control decisions to ensure their product will meet EU and US regulated toxin levels, opening the global food markets previously closed to them.
The ToxiQuant system comprises three main elements. The first is the ToxiTraceTM cartridge that houses the sample under test. Then there is ToxiMet’s patent protected spectroscopic analysis hardware (the ToxiQuant unit) and the third is the proprietary chemometrics algorithms. This unique combination delivers outstanding accuracy and linear response across the whole regulatory concentration range.
Having created the concept and an initial prototype for a system capable of reducing test and result times from days of turnaround time (by outsourcing to a specialist laboratory) to just minutes by on-site access, ToxiMet now needed a design, prototyping and manufacturing partner to deliver this capability in a rugged and reliable piece of test equipment, suitable for large and small testing sites.
This needed to be both commercially viable and manufacturable whilst meeting all of the specifications required for the instrument.
ITL played a crucial role in bringing together the various parties involved in the next stage of the development of the ToxiQuant system. This involved ITL’s Chief Engineer and ITL Virginia Inc. attending meetings in Florida, USA to outline the specifications for the instrument and put together an implementation strategy.
Throughout the product development process ITL continued to act as the coordinator for the project, working collaboratively with ToxiMet and their partners.
Specific elements delivered by ITL included:
- A detailed system requirements specification
- Mechanical, firmware and electronics expertise to develop the thermal control system required for a highly sensitive spectrometer to be utilised in extreme ambient temperatures
- Integration of design improvements
- Assistance in understanding the operation of the system where new solutions had been integrated
- Development of the disposable element of the system
- Application of the chemometrics algorythms into coding
- Safety and EMC testing for regulatory requirements
The project resulted in ITL building a set of prototypes of the pre-production ToxiQuant systems which allowed ToxiMet to begin testing.
On choosing ITL as a design and manufacturing partner Ray Coker, Founder of ToxiMet said:
“The ITL team has transformed our hardware from a clunky device to something 200 times better. ITL has the breadth of expertise to clearly understand and combine all aspects of the software, firmware, electrical and mechanical engineering that we need. “It has delivered the production engineering for both the main unit and the sample cartridge and came up with a whole new device to solve an alignment problem that was a really big issue for Toximet. “ITL drives our weekly progress meetings with first-class project management, is always fast to tackle issues and always delivers on what it commits to do. It has even provided solutions for issues that were caused by our other suppliers and has done so with enthusiasm.
“It is great to have access to ITL’s top management and you get the impression that the whole team, from the CEO down, loves a challenge. As a result it has been exceptional for us; in fact I would go as far as to say they have been the main force in helping us get to market on time.”
The future for ToxiMet and ITL
ITL’s Chinese office supported ToxiMet at their global launch event in Singapore in May 2012 and attended Analytica China in Shanghai with them in October 2012. Since the launch ITL has continue to support ToxiMet through the implementation of further design improvements and manufacturing.
From a future product perspective too, ToxiQuant is fully capable of providing a technology platform that can be expanded to other applications, including adapting to other spectroscopic techniques and including a wider range of toxic molecules.
The instrument fits the growing global trend of ‘taking the lab to the sample’ with its mode of convenient, on-site and non-expert usage.
A final word from ToxiMet:
“Having now worked with a wide range of ITL personnel, we are extremely happy with everyone. We work very effectively as a single team to deliver ToxiQuant and the ability to engage in highly productive conversations and we fully expect to continue working with the ITL team as business grows in the future.”
“Working with start-ups is rarely straightforward and ITL have shown a consistency, tolerance and professionalism that we greatly appreciate and would make them without question the first port of call for us for any future expansion of our product range”