Before the birth of Quantex, Dr. Paul Pankhurst was the Founder and CEO of PDD, which became one of the largest product innovation consultancies in the UK. “While at PDD, we were approached by one of the largest global pharmaceutical corporations who were keen to find a more accurate and lower-cost alternative to the peristaltic pump, and this is when my design team and I invented the principles that are now deployed in all Quantex pumps,” said Dr. Paul Pankhurst, CEO, and Chairman. Quantex has since become the innovative leader in single-use disposable pump technology. The organization supplies single-use pumps and also provides a design and development service for custom applications.
Quantex is now on a mission to eliminate harmful gas propellant aerosols and replace trigger sprays and pump canister sprays that generate vast amounts of single-use packaging waste.
The Quantex recyclable pump is radically different to peristaltic pumps: it works on the principle of positive displacement with a rotary action, so discrete volumes of fluid (boluses) are transported in rigid cavities and not affected by pressure, viscosity, or flow rate. There is no risk of an administrator affecting the pump performance (like the variability associated with loading a piece of peristaltic tubing) since the pump’s only connection point is with a motor drive shaft. The pumps only have one moving part, and they are sufficiently inexpensive to manufacture that they may be considered part of the primary pack. Thus, when a pack has been consumed, it is replaced by a new pack with a new pump; therefore, the pumps never need calibrating, and the associated cost of maintaining conventional pump mechanisms are eliminated. Since the fluid only travels through the pump and not through any fixed parts of the machine, hygiene is greatly improved, and there are zero cleanings required. This also increases flexibility to swap different fluids in and out of the same device with no cross-contamination risk. “I knew that this pump invention had enormous disruptive potential across multiple markets and consequently organized a management buy-out of PDD so that I could concentrate all my efforts into building Quantex,” added Pankhurst.
The first six years of incorporation involved a considerable amount of R&D. The business was kept afloat by several global companies who believed in the technology and paid for exclusivity in their respective fields. During this time, the organization perfected a suite of low-cost catalog pumps, suitable for high volume manufacture, with varying flow rates. In 2018, Quantex secured investment and a strategic partnership with a US-based firm, Vernay. There is a lot of synergy between Quantex and Vernay, and the latter has a global sales team who resell the pumps and services. This investment has helped Quantex build the team – hiring top-level talent, ramping up the high-volume manufacturing lines, and continuing to invest in disruptive innovation to showcase applications for the pumps.
The visionary customers who have implemented Quantex’s game-changing technology have secured successful market-leading positions. Still, it is not always easy to persuade potential customers to make radical changes involving the packaging and dispenser and to support this with new marketing and sales messaging. Often large companies find it far easier to make small incremental improvements instead. To help overcome these challenges, Quantex supports customers by providing evaluation kits to test/evaluate the pumps as well as application engineering resources to help with integration. However, to draw media attention and demonstrate the pumps’ capabilities and benefits, Quantex has identified several trends across industries and developed several turnkey device solutions.
The most recently launched innovation is Quantex Eco Freedom Sprayer. The high-pressure pumps generate more pressure than an aerosol can, producing a powerful, even spray at a button’s touch. Quantex is now on a mission to eliminate harmful gas propellant aerosols and replace trigger sprays and pump canister sprays that generate vast amounts of single-use packaging waste. Quantex has designed a device that demonstrates this capability and has already generated interest in multiple new markets worldwide. Another example is Quantex 4C – an IoT drug delivery/enteral feeding reference platform for the medical, pharma, and veterinary industries. Infusions or feeds are programmable by a doctor and administered via a smartphone app by the patient or by a caregiver. Real-time cloud data can be monitored remotely by doctors, and pharmaceutical companies can analyze depersonalized data.
Since COVID-19, getting patients out of hospitals and facilitating remote monitoring has become a priority. Because the Quantex 4C reference platform meets those demands, it is receiving considerable interest. Quantex is fortunate to work in multiple sectors, so although the business has been affected by a momentary drop in food and beverage sales, other industries continue to invest. The organization is seeing projects for enteral feeding, wound irrigation, and drug delivery. In the industrial & institutional sector, Quantex has projects around the precise dosing of inks and pigments and deployment of the Eco Freedom Sprayer for sanitizing public spaces.
In terms of technological advancements, Quantex currently holds 90 global patents surrounding the technology across 21 countries with 70 granted. In addition, considerable know-how is locked into the manufacturing processes, robotics, and automated assembly lines required to produce extremely reliable pumps at a low cost. Quantex pumps are often combined with other advanced technologies to enhance functionality. RFID chips on the pumps are used for pack recognition, enabling a dispensing machine to know which product has been loaded, automatically displaying correct graphics on interfaces, and programming the motor to run at the right speed for the fluid dispense. This makes operation of the machine even simpler for an administrator who is changing packs/cartridges.
Quantex is currently launching the Eco Freedom Sprayer, which broadens the markets. Still, the organization is continuously innovating and has several product releases on the road map for the remainder of 2020 and throughout 2021:
- Making use of Quantex in-pump dilution and mixing capability – where high concentrates are mixed with filtered water, the organization will be launching an in-pump carbonation/nitrogenation solution. This means that a machine can automatically dispense any drink with varying levels of carbonation/nitrogenation.
- For medical, Quantex has a Continuous Flow Pump due for release in January 2021 for smoother drug delivery – eliminating the pulse that pumps naturally generate and making infusions more comfortable.
- The company is also developing a pump with an integrated flow sensor for enhanced safety, which will be more compact and cost-effective than two This will be available with an electronic control board with pre-loaded algorithms to reduce the customer’s development time and cost.
- Quantex has an improved model of the original 13 Series pumps, which will be released this year as QX-13, and a new 10mm size pump (QX-10) that will bridge the gap between the 6 Series and 13 Series pumps.
- The organization will also be launching its own aseptic valve that connects to the pump outlet to prevent bacterial ingress, which is particularly applicable for pumping dairy products safely.
IN TERMS OF TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS, QUANTEX CURRENTLY HOLDS 90 GLOBAL PATENTS SURROUNDING THE TECHNOLOGY ACROSS 21 COUNTRIES WITH 70 GRANTED.
Quantex has worked with several industries of different sizes. One of the customers, Fresh Blends®, supported by Multiplex® (a Welbilt company), designed a ground-breaking, self-serve frozen beverages platform enabled by Quantex’s recyclable pump technology that is a fully IoT connected platform. The machine houses 8 x 2-gallon bags of all-natural and preservative-free base-flavor products in a chilled compartment, each with a Quantex pump directly attached with lines that feed up to a single point of dispense into the cup. The pump’s high vacuum capability provides better bag evacuation, which means more servings per bag and less waste. The Fresh Blender® self-cleans automatically after each dispense and blending process. Cloud data reporting is monitored and can be controlled remotely. The Fresh Blends® platform is a massive success in major convenience store chains in the US and is expanding into Europe and Australasia. The pump is a key enabler in the scaling up of dispensers because they provide a sanitary, easy-to-maintain, and flexible solution. With machines like the Fresh Blender® blazing the path, Quantex is working on the creation of another IoT platform for liquid product refills in supermarkets in the quest to reduce, reuse, refill.
This business is highly scalable without the need to increase the head-count/overheads proportionally. The London-based team is comprised of brilliant people from multiple continents. The organization has a dedicated manufacturing partner, CTA, with whom they work closely to optimize production, with state-of-the-art molding machines and lights-out production with robotic assembly. Quantex is fundamentally an innovation company and most of the team is focused on R&D and new business, continually innovating and improving the products to satisfy disruptive new applications and markets.