One of the longest-running success stories involving the Growth Direct® System is a tribute to thinking outside the box – in this case, a box of baby wipes.
A little more than a decade ago, Rapid Micro Biosystems was making a name for itself with pharmaceutical companies when an unexpected prospect came calling. A leading consumer goods brand known to shoppers worldwide had a line of wet baby wipes offering plenty of growth potential, except for a problem with lagging bioburden detection times. Could a platform originally designed for pharma companies be their solution as well?
Automating with the Growth Direct® System turned out to be a game changer. During feasibility studies the technology proved its ability to process and filter tissue wipes, quantitatively detecting A. brasiliensis in 24 hours instead of the customary three days, while improving accuracy of counts for mold and other potential contaminants that could harm a child’s delicate skin. In turn, shorter detection times and greater confidence in quality meant the company could implement near real time testing along their continuous manufacturing line. Getting data earlier in the process allowed them to ship directly from the manufacturing line and release product before it reached shelves, eliminating costly post-production warehousing.
Result: savings of over $70 million annually.
In addition, the 66% reduction in wait time eased a quality control bottleneck that had kept the company’s high-demand brands from expanding global production capacity. Installing the Growth Direct® System at three manufacturing sites soon made it possible to test all product SKUs globally and introduce continuous production, for enhanced flexibility that continues to this day.
“While the Growth Direct® System was originally developed for rapid microbiology testing and analysis, there are many other applications that could make use of its high-volume environmental monitoring, bioburden testing, and water testing capabilities,” notes RMB Field Application Scientist Johannes Oberdörfer. “We’re always interested in talking with companies willing to take a fresh approach to their quality issues.”
Concerns about contaminants borne by air, water, or even company personnel are by no means exclusive to the pharma industry. Nor is the desire to replace paper-based quality assurance processes with a fully digitized system that supports absolute data integrity, or the pressure to free highly skilled personnel from error-prone manual tasks that can lead to costly staff turnover. But the standards for a company producing an injectable vaccine or a life-saving cell therapy are uniquely demanding, meaning that a solution already proven in the pharma industry is often capable of being transferred to other applications.
“One example is winemaking,” says RMB Director of Technical Marketing and Government Affairs David Jones. “While consulting with one of the world’s largest wineries, we demonstrated that the Growth Direct® System can filter wine samples, scan them with our vision system as readily as traditional growth media, accurately detect microbial contaminants of interest, and do it all rapidly enough to suggest a competitive advantage.”
There are other potential applications as well. In consultation with Rapid Micro Biosystems experts on two continents, Oberdörfer and Jones have identified a variety of applications that could be suitable for the Growth Direct® System. You can see them in the infographic below, but there are even more possibilities waiting to be explored. Why not talk to us about your own application?
If you’re worried that your current approach to microbial quality control is rooted in the past, we invite you to contact Rapid Micro Biosystems for a virtual or in-person demonstration of the Growth Direct® System. A little information is all it takes to get started. Our highly experienced support team can evaluate your potential for greater manufacturing flexibility, improved quality, and cost-effectiveness.
As shown by our baby wipes example, a willingness to think outside the box could help you realize tidy savings of your own.