“The difference for the customer in being able to measure more precisely is vast. In the biopharmaceutical industry, the fast, precise measurement can assist companies during the purification process and enable them to achieve reliable real-time results.”
How has Tornado Spectral Systems developed since its inception five years ago?
The technology that we use today was conceived at Tornado Medical Systems (TMS). At TMS, the strategy was to pursue technologies for various types of applications in the medical field. The HTVS™ (high-throughput virtual slit) technology is one of the products of that collaboration.
Tornado Spectral Systems (TSS) was incorporated in 2013 after the HTVS technology was invented and proven in physical form. The HTVS technology allows our spectrometer to collect 10 times more photons than the previous state-of-the-art equipment, which in turn improves the precision of the measurement of chemicals in a mixture. The commercialized version gave us the ability to add a new measurement technique into the industry, enabling a faster measurement and/or more precise measurement.
Given the accuracy of your Raman spectroscopy systems, what advantages does this provide to your customer base?
In the specialty chemical and pharmaceutical space, finer measurement resolution does make a significant difference where measurements are made in parts per million. For example, one of our customers needed to know that their reactant was specifically at 400 parts per million, but the current state-of-the-art equipment could not measure to that resolution fast enough. The difference for the customer in being able to measure more precisely is vast. In the biopharmaceutical industry, the fast, precise measurement can assist companies during the purification process and enable them to achieve reliable real-time results.
Tornado Spectral Systems has also integrated the SpectralSoft – Raman Spectroscopy Software into its portfolio. Could you elaborate on the company’s venture into this value-added technology?
Our HyperFlux™ PRO Plus product has a spectrometer inside, as well as a laser to excite the sample in order to create a measurable signal. The signal needs to be presented into useful information and the SpectralSoft software provides this translation in addition to controlling the system operation. The software also has the ability to run utilities to calibrate the instrument to known traceable standards.
Where are you seeing most demand for your Raman spectroscopy products?
Our Raman spectroscopy system has systematically been making its way into the biopharmaceutical industry, and we are now starting to see the product trickle down to downstream purification applications. The feedback from the market is that our Raman analyzer demonstrates the measurement speed necessary for downstream purification and many customers are now carrying out R&D using Raman.
The scope of application extends into many industries but the markets we initially saw the most demand from were traditional pharma, small molecule and API. This is where most of our focus and aim was as well. Interestingly, the biopharmaceutical industry has now surpassed others as the industry with the most demand. Our main markets globally and within the biopharmaceutical space are cell fermentation and purification.
What is Tornado Spectral Systems’ strategy for penetrating into the United States, and how is the company able to leverage its close connectivity to the market?
Tornado Spectral Systems is still a start-up company. The challenge with start-ups is building trust in the market. With such a high-value type product, our strategy has been to take a broader approach to the market in many applications, so that we can create awareness and build a rapport with our customer base, with the intention to grow.
What is Tornado Spectral Systems’ key strategy for global expansion?
We are a small but rapidly growing company using distribution channels to service the global market. We would like to partner with companies that have experience within the spectroscopy segment of the industry and the markets that they sell into. In the United States, we have more of a direct-to-customer approach supported by manufacturing representation. A complete solution for process analytics requires much more than a great analytical instrument. Our biggest challenge has been to develop software, sample interfaces, system integration, and safety measures that are equal to the capabilities of our core instrument. All of this is required to provide a comprehensive and fully deployable product.
What are the key trends affecting the company?
There is a current trend in Europe towards heightened factory safety. Europe seems to be ahead of the United States in this respect and is following the ATEX directive. We have latched on to this trend and hope to introduce new products in the future incorporating safe lasers, which will not, and cannot, ignite known fuels in any circumstance given the specification for the laser. There is no technology behind making a safe laser – it is simply a case of good, solid design to ensure that a laser power output would not exceed a certain threshold, under any circumstance. If we can comply to this regulation, it opens the door to being able to install our product into any factory in Europe. HTVS is an advantage in this case as it enables high-quality measurements even at lower laser power.
What are Tornado Spectral Systems’ key objectives moving forward?
The challenge and objective is to decipher how to take the signal that comes out of our instruments and translate it into actionable information. Our customers go through a process to create a model which in turn converts the signal into a concentration unit. It will be beneficial for a company like ours to have a larger applications team to help create these models; therefore, the objective is thus to grow our application development capability moving forward. Tornado Spectral Systems has aspirations to become a trusted manufacturer within the chemical analysis space.