André Bloem, Manager QC Laboratory,
explains how Koppert Biological Systems was able to experiment extensively thanks to the Alis pilot, without having to commit to anything or to incur costs.


Successful trial period

In the transition from data management with Excel to a professional Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), Koppert Biological Systems was able to test the suitability of Alis first.

After proven success, the contract was signed and the implementation completed. The system was up and running within half a year.

With software such as Photoshop, a standard 30-day trial can be run, but such a trial is unusual when purchasing laboratory software.

After having only watched a demonstration and perhaps experiencing a reference visit, it is more like taking a leap on to a runaway train. Whether the system works for you and delivers what it promises is more a matter of fingers crossed and waiting.

At Koppert Biological Systems in Berkel and Rodenrijs, worldwide market leader in biological crop protection and natural pollination, things went differently.

In close collaboration with Asystance, Alis was configured step-by-step in a pilot. Alis soon proved to be perfectly configurable for analyzes of fermentation products by the microbiological QA / QC laboratory and communication with the production department.

Halfway through the implementation process, the system proved itself well enough that Koppert decided to continue using it and the contract was signed immediately.

André Bloem discovered that when setting up, Alis more or less directs itself: "I have quite a bit of programming experience, but anyone with a little knowledge of computers and spreadsheets will easily be able to manage this."


"And if you do have any questions, there is immediate feedback. We quickly realized Alis would work for us. I configured modules for links between production and our lab in no-time."


"After this it was just a matter of further fine tuning. In March 2014 we ran Alis parallel with our old Excel solution, and in April we went live. So Alis was fully implemented here within six months."

I configured screens for links between production and our lab in no-time.

André Bloem, Manager QC Laboratorium

Koppert Biological Systems


Koppert Biological Systems

Koppert Biological Systems supplies sustainable solutions for professional growers. Natural enemies and micro organisms are used for tackling and preventing plagues and diseases.


The company also supplies bumblebees for natural pollination when cultivating vegetables, fruit and seeds.

André Bloem works at the 'Microbials' department, which consists of a research and a production department.


Through a process of up-scaling, the required substances are cultivated from a 75 ml vial to vast 20,000 litre charges. The entire process is supported and controlled by the QA/QC-lab.


"The analyses provide the certainty that you create the right little creatures. It's known as 'pure cultivation'. By the end of the project you need to measure and calculate them with the appropriate viability and in the right concentrations."


The previously used Excel datasheets allowed for intensive quality control, however this solution yielded too little management information.


"The Excel tables contained excellent macros, but now that we’re expanding fast, you quickly run into the limitations. Files became too large, reading time too long and we weren't able to follow the process well enough."


"When seeking an alternative professional solution, our guiding theme throughout was 'track & trace'. We have an exceptionally complex production process in which you need to search and locate data rapidly. We could no longer obtain a clear overview, and were struggling with the tables."

By the end of the project you need to measure and calculate them with the appropriate viability and in the right concentrations.

André Bloem, Manager QC Laboratorium

Koppert Biological Systems


Test environment

When André Bloem's colleagues came upon Asystance at a laboratory trade fair, an introductory first meeting was quickly arranged.


Asystance visited Koppert and André Bloem, who was now part of the team, was tasked to develop the initial ideas further. Bloem provided a project plan with objectives for the implementation of a lab recording system.


"It was vital for the system to track the entire process, from the first sample up to and including the end of the production batch, along with the accompanying analyses results."


"Asystance came with a great offer: access to Alis's test environment. This gave us the opportunity to experiment extensively, without obligation or incurring costs.”

This gave us the opportunity to experiment extensively, without obligation or incurring costs.

André Bloem, Manager QC Laboratorium

Koppert Biological Systems


Functionality

André immediately got along well with the new system. First he mapped out all relevant processes for the laboratory system, both at laboratory and at production level. Then it was a simple task to convert the Excel files with the macros to Alis.


"I first created a flowchart with a laboratory block, an upstream block for the upscaling and a downstream block for processing the end products."


"The system's functionality works intuitively. You enter names and can create additional fields for your processes and sub processes. This enables you to import the base in one go. You can read the Excel tables one for one as an import; absolutely ideal, no double work there!"


With the numerous fermenters working it was imperative that during the upscaling all previous analyses results could be seen at the press of a single button.​


"What you put into fermenter 3 now, comes from fermenter 2. You need the facility to quickly call up the calculations and 'purity' tests that belong to this.


All these steps in the process are linked to each other via hyperlinks, making it possible to go forwards and backwards through the process. Using the drop downs and the preset menu choices we were able to quickly put in more than thirty fermenters. Throw in the variables, and all of it is available across the whole system."

You can import the Excel tables one by one as import, that is ideal. No double work.

André Bloem, Manager QC Laboratorium

Koppert Biological Systems


Implementation process

he implementation process held an attractive challenge for Alis. "With microbiology you use exceptionally large numbers, quickly moving into the billions. This requires the kind of scientific notation which was still to be implemented in Alis, but is now available as standard to all users."


The second challenge was to link up the Alis data with the Smart Board; a projection screen displaying all current production data.


Asystance worked with a Technology Development department colleague to program the Smart Board to ensure the Alis data is now immediately available on the live screen.


"Our production manager can now tailor his planning using the latest laboratory results. An excellent example of development, with ICT professionals cooperating on both sides," observes André Bloem.


The operators needed little time to get used to the introduction of Alis. "It demands a little bit of extra admin, we feed in more data, but you get a lot in return."


"With just one push of a button you can now search back through the system to see what happened. This of course allows for much better control."


"Once the production planning has been entered, the operator is given the green light by the system to start up the new fermenter. You can also immediately see if the samples from the previous step have been approved."


Six months after implementing the trial phase, the system was running smoothly. "The pilot scheme launched in October 2013. In April we ran the new system parallel to the old one for a short time to polish off the details. We went live in mid April; all in all a complete process in six months."


Bloem gives Alis the "OK", although he does have one desire: "In my view, the system manager could have a few more options for accessing the nuts and bolts of the system. The facility to link the database tables would be good. This would allow me to solve more issues myself which are currently out of reach. More management rights within Alis would make it even better."

With microbiology you use exceptionally large numbers, quickly moving into the billions.

André Bloem, Manager QC Laboratorium

Koppert Biological Systems

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