Cost Saving Strategy (Part-1): Physical Components
Tissue culture technology is being used worldwide for conservation and mass propagation of endangered plant species. However, this technology is capital, labor and energy intensive. Also energy, particularly electricity, and clean water are costly.
In this part series we will talk about some means to increase the efficiency and bring down the cost of production.
Alternatives containing low-cost substitutes can be used in place of certain equipment’s, which would reduce impurities and simplify certain operations, thus reducing costs in a tissue culture facility.
The loss of cultures increases the cost of production.
A costly solution to this problem is a modern, high quality clean rooms with environment control systems to minimize contamination
Do you know ?
It has been estimated that each operator generates a minimum of 1 to 5 million particles (bigger than 0.5µM diameter) per minute.
A relatively cheaper and more effective solution is wearing laboratory coats (which are mandatory in Class 100 clean rooms) reduces contamination from clothing, skin and hair.
Also careful planning and appropriate design of the laboratory goes a long way in reducing contamination.
Washing and Sterilizing Operations
1. Costly Dishwashing Machines can be replaced by manual washing if labor is relatively inexpensive.
2. Hot Air Ovens for drying can be replaced by the washed culture containers be dried in sun
3. In small-scale laboratories, the autoclaves can be replaced by large sized pressure cookers
4. Horizontal autoclaves should be replaced (generate hot air pockets in the sterilizing rooms ) with vertical autoclaves, to keep the air cool
5. Replace Costly aluminum foil for wrapping instruments for sterilization to autoclavable stainless steel containers
Commercial laboratories should produce a range of plants for different seasons to maximize the use of the facilities throughout the year. This lowers the unit cost of plant production.
To reduce organizational problems in big units, the management structure must be well planned.
Supporting information systems such as inventory control, production scheduling, space utilization and daily targets should be well defined.
A villages of Cuba produce up to one million banana plants and 2.5 million sugarcane plants annually
To produce quality products on large-scale, there should be good co-ordination among the technicians, supporting staff, supervisors and the researchers with proper job description and reporting system
Personnel selection and training is critical for successful large-scale production. The production needs to be periodically reviewed to meet needs of the customers.
A micropropagation company in India converted a three-room apartment into a medium-sized tissue culture laboratory. Plant such as Spathiphyllum, Syngonium, Ficus, hosta, calla lily, gerbera, and cordyline, were produced on a commercial scale. Delivery of the tissue-cultured plants to the tune of 2.5 million per year
Significant cost reduction for large-scale production can be achieved with automation and mechanization.
Although, automation of certain steps of micropropagation has been investigated for the past 20 years, its commercial use has not been adopted. The capital costs of such automated systems have prevented their application.
Culture Maintenance in Growth Rooms
Plant cultures can be maintained in rooms with air conditioners and tube lights instead of highly priced plant growth chambers.
The tissue culture laboratories in Cuba produce millions of tissue-cultured sugarcane, pineapple and banana plants using natural light.
The conventional method of downward illumination can be replaced by sidewise lighting systems, which not only reduces the number of lights but also provides more uniform illumination to the cultures.
In the tropical and Mediterranean regions, the electrical lighting systems can be replaced by sunlight
1. Instead of Petri dishes as stage for manipulation of culture, stainless steel plates, ceramic tiles and brown wrapping paper can be used; all of these can be autoclaved.
2. Ethanol for hand and workbench sterilization can be replaced by industrial spirit.
3. The careless handling of inflammables used for sterilization can be hazardous. Glass bead sterilizers can be used to sterilize forceps and scalpels instead of the conventional flame sterilization using spirit lamps or gas cylinders.
4. Commercial bleach has also been successfully used in several laboratories for bench and instrument sterilization to reduce cost, and to prevent fire hazard.
In part-2 of this series we will talk about some cool cost saving strategies for culture mediums, gelling agents and containers
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