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April 1, 2019 manufacturing awards

Despite advances in automation, Organomation continues its strong sales with a user-friendly product

A Clemson University professor and student are using an N-EVAP device from Organomation for their research.

Nitrogen evaporators are simple devices, but Berlin manufacturer Organomation has seized on the critical need for the product for 60 years.

The company was founded in 1959 by Neal McNiven, who saw the need for sample preparation instruments for chromatography. The devices are used by scientists to prepare samples for analysis by utilizing heat and nitrogen blowdown.

According to the founder's son, President Andrew McNiven, the company basically invented the concept of nitrogen blowdown evaporation.

Originally, Organomation began with a 12-position sample unit. That expanded to many other models ranging anywhere from 6 positions to 100 positions, McNiven said.

The company now sells more than 20 different instrument designs and is exploring the development of more hi-tech devices to meet the growing needs of laboratories.

Happy customers

Much of the company's customers are repeat sales, McNiven said.

“We've penetrated all of the major research labs in North America,” he said.

One of those labs is the crop science lab at Clemson University in South Carolina, where researchers are exploring heat response in peanuts. Graduate student Zolian Zoong Lwe said Organomation's evaporators, which he called an integral part of the work, allow him to evaporate the solution without damaging the extracted lipids.

His team and advisor already had experience with Organomation equipment from previous experiments, so they made it a point to purchase one if it was within the budget.

“It's very intuitive and user friendly,” he said. “It's very easy to use.”

Moving toward an automated future

Despite advancements in science and the rise of automation, Organomation's rather simple lab appliances haven't had to be remade to be more hi-tech.

“The original design is still selling somewhat well,” McNiven said.

However, a transition to a more tech-savvy product market is likely inevitable.

“We're certainly aware that chemistry may be moving on to a more automated process,” McNiven said.

To meet that demand, the company has hired an engineering staff to stay on top of trends in lab equipment.

U.S. business has slowed as research labs mature and utilize new technology, but international business has picked up in Asian countries like China and Vietnam as more labs come online.

Helping the company's bottom line are international supplier agreements to tap into the success of its strong customer base.

“That's probably why our products still sell as well as they do,” McNiven said. “Internationally, labs are starting from the basement and companies are building those facilities up. Manually operated instruments are still acceptable.”

Read about the other WBJ 2019 Manufacturing Excellence Award winners

Manufacturing Excellence Award, Large Company - AIS

Green Manufacturing Award - Acorn Deck House Co.

Rising Star Award - New England Optical Systems, Inc.

Product Design & Innovation Award - CPI Radant Technologies Division, Inc.

Collaboration in Manufacturing Award - Carpe Diem Technologies, Inc.

Workplace Development & Productivity Award - SLIDEWAYS, Inc.

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