Stephen Tierney is the President at XiltriX North America, and is based in San Diego, California
Big4Bio: What is the story of XiltriX?
Tierney: XiltriX North America was established to make science safer and more predictable through technology. Over the past 30 years, XiltriX has been developed in-house by our sister company in the Netherlands. The technology platform is used globally in all types of life science facilities, from early-stage R&D labs and large academic teaching hospitals, to IVF clinics and fully validated cGMP pharmaceutical production sites. We continue to collaborate with our sister company for ongoing technical developments as well as jointly serving our global customers.
We brought XiltriX to the North American market in 2018 and began offering it as a managed service as opposed to the typical CapEx model. We’ve seen that the Life Science industry is ever-evolving and the vendors supporting them must also constantly adapt to meet their needs, which includes offering superior customer service. Our team works as a consulting partner for each of our clients, leveraging our deep industry experience and proven technology to create a complete lab monitoring experience.
Big4Bio: What sets you apart from other lab monitoring solutions?
Tierney: XiltriX only does one thing – lab monitoring – and we are experts in our field. We provide white-glove service to our customers and each system is custom-tailored to meet their unique needs. We source our sensors from leading manufacturers, cover far more parameters than other vendors in the space, and since we retain ownership of the hardware – we take care of all system maintenance, repairs, upgrades, and replacements. Our team of in-house experts works side by side with our clients to further optimize the system and remove the burden of lab monitoring from their team. This allows their staff to spend more time focusing on their value-added tasks.
Big4Bio: What are some limiting factors of the technology you offer?
Tierney: One of the most challenging aspects of lab monitoring is determining how to interface with equipment or environments. Some devices are built like a Blackbox and don’t allow any type of data to be collected directly, and others are controlled by a system (like an HVAC) that may provide some insights, but doesn’t meet strict data regulations or provide audit trails. Interfacing with these can require getting access to vendor protocols, working directly with the equipment manufacturer, or developing an integration through software, like using an Open API. This can lead to multiple systems being put into place to satisfy myriad requirements and create a burden on operations teams. It’s not necessarily our technology that is a limiting factor, but really how we are able to get the data from so many different systems into a single dashboard for clients. Where we see XiltriX adding value is helping to break down these limiting factors and approach the space with an engineering mindset to create a solution for our clients.
Big4Bio: What makes your business model unique?
Tierney: XiltriX is the only company offering lab monitoring as a managed service and we’ve actually coined the term “Lab Monitoring-as-a–Service”. With that, we have a 24/7 support team that we call the XiltriX SafetyNet Team who clients can view as an extension of their own team. The SafetyNet Team is on every alarm escalation protocol, performs ongoing system optimizations, and assists end-users with quality reporting, data analysis, system training, and answering everyday questions.
Another huge difference is that we own all the hardware. Why pay for hardware that’ll be obsolete in a few years? With our business model, if anything needs maintenance, or breaks and needs to be replaced, that is on us. Sensors also all have different lifespans before needing to be replaced, which we manage and perform upgrades for when necessary. We have seen too many times old systems fail because the company owns the sensors and tries to extend their life span far too long, and this almost always results in a catastrophic loss. We take the guesswork out of lab monitoring and provide our customers with real-time data and actionable insights into their lab operations.
Big4Bio: How does XiltriX tailor their solutions for each client?
Tierney: We provide a consultative service to our clients that starts early on in the sales process and continues throughout the duration of our partnership. We start by gathering some basic information like equipment make/model and a floorplan of the facility. Next, we try to understand what are the critical parameters an organization is looking to monitor and which are the “nice to haves”. For example, incubators can be monitored for CO2, O2, temperature, pH, humidity, and more, but an organization may only find a few of them as truly critical and the others would be great to add in the future if budget permits. Other factors, like how many relative humidity & temperature sensors are needed for a lab space based on total square footage, are also taken into account along with anticipated equipment expansions. Additional requirements clients are often concerned with can be related to regulatory requirements they’ll need to meet for clinical trials or manufacturing, or achieving different lab accreditations like CAP or CLIA. We also advise on what can be overkill and can become a nuisance to monitor. (Some systems offer 10 dry contacts as monitoring option, but 2-3 of them will end up covering 99% of their needs)
Once we understand their current critical needs and future ambitions, we design a proposal to meet not just their current setup, but also what they’ll need over the years as their operations grow. We source built-for-purpose sensors for their site (most of which we always keep on hand) and ensure the design plan reflects future needs. After the initial installation, the rest of the tailoring comes as we begin working with their teams and learning more about their operations. Alarm limits and escalation protocols always end up changing after some initial use and new questions always arise as their organization grows and changes. Working with companies that are in every stage of the drug development life cycle and of various sizes allows us to counsel our clients based on our hands-on experience with similar situations.
Big4Bio: What are some of the most common reasons why life science organizations inquire about your services?
Tierney: While it does vary from company to company, there are definitely a few key reasons that we see time and time again. A very common one is they are unsatisfied with their current providers’ minimal customer service. Another is that their current solution can’t meet the evolving needs of the company. Whether that is in terms of compliance, monitoring new parameters, or scalability, the system they put in place years before will not be able to support their current needs. We’ve seen many organizations prefer having our expertise and managed service to support their fast-growing operations, minimizing the amount of work falling on their Lab staff and complementing the skillset of existing Facilities & Operations teams. One final reason would be to help with standardization across multiple sites or between departments. We’ve seen countless times that issues regarding research reproducibility can “suddenly go away” after standardizing monitoring on all of the equipment and lab environments where those experiments take place.