The new colonyQuant automatic colony counter with intuitive software and
plates that you want to evaluate. With our
software, the Setcard can be defined using
the agar background. It is determined that
everything is counted that does not correspond
to the agar. This gives you the option
of counting morphologically deviating colonies.
Arndt In the food industry in particular, particles
occasionally appear on the Petri dish
that are not colonies, but rather bits of meat,
for example. In the manner described by Mr.
Wolterstorff, our software can distinguish
even these foreign particles from colonies.
What does such a Setcard look like exactly?
Wolterstorff: The position of the Petri dish
in our sample chamber is decisive for the
Setcard configuration. We have a 3-level-image
system with which you can achieve optimal
illumination of the Petri dish, depending
on the combination of agar and colonies. Our
high-quality camera can also record the specially
illuminated plate in detail using Autozoom
and Autofocus. This is also a unique
selling point. Our system can favorably
influence the initial conditions of the photos
in favor of the software. The next step
is to define which agar and which colonies
are involved. All of these Setcard configurations
form the training or "teaching" that is
required once. This is the editor function that
we already mentioned. The teaching is usually
carried out by the laboratory management,
but at least by trained staff and can also be
validated in the form of IQ / OQ documents,
which we offer as an option.
Arndt The subsequent routine evaluation is
carried out by selecting the previously defined
Setcard, inserting the sample and clicking on
counting, i.e. with just two clicks I have evaluated
the Petri dish. It’s very quick. In addition,
we have a very good reporting system in the
background so that the user can easily comprehend
and document what has been evaluated
later. All results are reproducible.
How does the user go about the routine?
Arndt The user creates his own Setcard collection,
a kind of library. One customer may
only have water samples to determine, the
other only TC or both. The customer can save
his / her Setcards individually, with their own
file names, so that they are always ready to
see on the software’s start page.
The advantage of the system is that
you can process a relatively large number
of samples quickly, automatically or
with the assistance of robots, and then
achieve a relatively high sample through-
put within a short period of time. Your
colonyQuant seems to automatically recognize
counted colonies once identified?
Arndt Yes, that is correct. Hundreds of samples
can be evaluated daily, which saves an
enormous amount of time. As you say, the
automatic colony count can even be integrated
into a robotic environment and operated
fully automatically. This is already in use. We
are in that way already part of Industry 4.0.
The samples are fed to the Bioburden robot
system, evaluated with our system and the
results processed in the network.
Another advantage for many customers
is, as already mentioned, the documentation.
The sample is archived in our database in all
stages and can be called up at any time. This
is also becoming increasingly important in
the food industry.
But we can go further: In addition to a
LIMS interface, the system is also 21 CFR Part
11 compliant. (21 CFR Part 11 is part of U.S.
Code of Federal Regulations, which sets out
the US Food and Drug Administration’s regulations
for electronic records and electronic
signatures. It is analogous to the European
standard EU GMP Annex 11.)
Wolterstorff: According to this standard,
changes must always be traceable. The purpose
of this regulation is to ensure that no
uncontrolled manipulations can be carried
out. If changes are made to the results, these
must be traceable and traceable to a user.
Our software can do that.
That certainly makes sense. But back to
the device: You get the impression that
the operator doesn’t need any special
qualifications. The sample is evaluated
with two clicks, is it really that simple?
Arndt Qualified preparatory work is only
required to set up the Setcard. If the Setcard
is available, the evaluation is indeed very
quick, this does require a certain basic knowledge,
but no high qualification.
How does your software deal with
sources of error?
Wolterstorff: A typical source of error in
automatic colony counting is confluence of
colonies. In microbiology, this means that
nucleating units fuse with one another and
thus change the typical shape, which can
lead to miscounts. The more colonies you
have on a plate, the more likely it is that the
colonies will grow together. With our software,
we have the option of automatically
separating these agglomerations using optical
or mathematical methods.