A DIGITAL collaboration is helping a St Asaph company push forward in the field of lateral flow development.

Bio-Check, which provides expert knowledge that enables it to be specialist developer, manufacturer and distributor of test kits for food, healthcare and veterinary applications, is one of a group of Denbighshire businesses to benefit from a research and development collaboration designed to boost digital support.

Engineers from AMRC Cymru, part of the wider University of Sheffield AMRC cluster of research and innovation centres, are working alongside Denbighshire County Council, as part of the individualised digital transformation project, designed to help local businesses understand and realise the benefits of smart digital technologies.

The project is funded by the Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund, all businesses taking part receive expert support on three-month intervention projects from a digital specialist - with the aim to improve their product development and manufacturing processes through smart technologies.

The collaboration is providing support for the company with its latest onsite lateral flow tests.

Richard Fielder, business manager for Bio-Check, said: “Bio-Check has been working with an external partner on the scale-up of its manufacturing capability for an onsite veterinary lateral flow test to be used by dairy farmers.

"Bio-Check also has other plans to develop its own range of lateral flow tests such as for the detection of food allergens for use in food manufacture.

“The AMRC is supporting this immediate goal of scaling-up by helping us understand how to achieve greater manufacturing efficiencies for lateral flow tests with its current resources with a defined range of improvements. The work is also helping to support broader shared goals of meeting the wider needs of the food and drink sector.”

Dr James Allum, senior manufacturing research engineer at AMRC Cymru, which is a member of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult network, said: “AMRC Cymru was able to support Bio-Check through a range of manufacturing innovation activities. We initiated the process by reviewing the existing manufacturing steps involved in lateral flow test production - and generated a digital process flow map, which informed process improvement through analysis and discussion.

“Discrete event simulation (DES), was also used to review opportunities for efficiency optimisation by comparing existing manufacturing processes data, against that hypothetically feasible through investment in semi-automated solutions.

“This research demonstrated potential staff time savings of up to 47 per cent, via semi-automation of some aspects of the production process.

"In addition to this, the AMRC supported Bio-Check by running a workshop to develop methods for digitising paper-based documents (such as SOPs and batch records), to support future digital process management - with a vision to utilise tablets to display and capture data and collate it digitally, removing the time-consuming need to retrospectively translate paper-based forms into a digital format."

Bio-Check (UK) started life in 2012 and is part of an international consortium of companies, working in the field of food safety and quality testing, training and consulting.

Based in St Asaph, the company employs 11 staff, who provide the skills and knowledge to develop and manufacture onsite lateral flow tests, laboratory tests for applications in food safety and quality that are supplied globally from Wales.