At times, work in the winery lab can be repetitive and tedious, yet each step in the filtration process requires careful attention to prevent contamination that can threaten an entire batch of wine.
“The more you improve your handling, the less contamination you have and the less rework you have to do,” says Myriam Gueye, Manager Segment Marketing at Sartorius.
“At Sartorius, we always focus on solutions for the customer,” adds Juliane Großmann, Product Manager Microbiology. “We try to address our customers’ pain points, which we know from their feedback and because we are in the lab ourselves.”
Sartorius, a premium-quality filter manufacturer for the biopharma and beverage industries, recently completed a Time Saving Study of Microbial Enumeration filtration products and processes. Their technicians’ evaluated lab procedures step-by-step to look for ways to simplify workflow and save time.
“Some wineries still use traditional, reusable stainless steel equipment instead of single-use filtration units,” says Großmann. “The same is true for the media they prepare. We found that single-use or ready-to-use media offer significant time savings in the testing procedure.”
The left bar on this chart from the Sartorius study shows how long it takes when using stainless steel funnels with a single-pack membrane filter. Technicians have to autoclave and flame after each filtration to remove secondary contaminants and place a filter on the holder with forceps before pouring in the sample and filtering it. They then rinse with sterile water, remove the filter with forceps and place it on the pad in the petri dish to test.
If the winery changes to a dispenser filter, it can save 10% of that time (second bar). Switching to the Biosart® 100 Monitor Microbiological and Analytical Filtration Unit (third bar) lets you save one-third of the time, and adding the Biosart® @Filter 100 sterile disposables ups those savings to 43%.
The next chart shows the difference between using individual sterile filters and a dispenser that takes the sterile filters straight out of the packaging. A technician can save 38% of her time if she uses the big pack dispenser.
Agar plate preparation, which some wineries do themselves, also offers time-saving opportunities. The first column in this chart shows the time typically spent preparing agar plates when cooking and cooling powder. The second column shows that more time is needed when cooking and plating bottled agar.
“You can see how long it takes if you prepare all the plates yourself,” points out Großmann. “Compare the first two bars with the last bar, which is the time needed when using ready-to-use agar plates. You can see how much time you can save. And you don’t have to store the media in the refrigerator like normal agar plates.”
What lab technician wouldn’t appreciate being able to perform more tests in a shorter time? What winery isn’t looking for a way to reduce operating costs and address labor shortages post-COVID? And what lab manager doesn’t hope to make test results more repeatable?
“Our goal is to make life easier for our customers,” says Gueye. “Wineries can save time with a simpler way of working. The time they save lets them do more tests, develop new methods or release batches hours or days early. Less repetitive activities mean people will be more engaged and less likely to get bored. We offer all of these products to our customers, including stainless steel funnels, so we hope that wineries will use this information to choose the best process for their winery.”