With the opening of two additional pavilions on the area of the Penzing Clinic in Vienna, the next expansion stage of the Lifebrain COVID-19 testing laboratory has now been put into operation. This will increase the daily capacity of Europe’s largest and most modern laboratory from a maximum of 500,000 PCR tests to 800,000. With test volumes currently growing at record levels on a daily basis, the expansion of testing capacity is an essential building block in containing the wave of Omikron infections, according to Vienna’s City Health Councillor Peter Hacker. “With the substantial expansion of laboratory and logistics, the vision of our efforts is in the foreground to guarantee the city of Vienna and the eastern part of Austria a high quality, rapid and stable analysis of PCR tests area-wide,” explains Lifebrain Managing Director Univ.-Prof. Dr. Michael Havel.
In order to set up a test offensive of this magnitude, the interaction of the best from many areas is required. With Lifebrain Group, Lead Horizon, Rewe Group, Post and Syngroup together form the core consortium of the campaign of the City of Vienna and the Chamber of Commerce.
Syngroup brings to the table expertise in process optimization built up over 25 years – not only in industry – and is a key driver in the planning and optimization of processes in all core areas of the major project. “We started with 7,000 tests per day and are now, one year later at 800,000 tests” emphasizes Syngroup Managing Director Heinz Marx. Marx cites the scaling up from 500,000 tests to the current capacity within just 12 weeks as a particular challenge of the current expansion stage. This involves planning and optimizing equipment design, set-up and load distribution, as well as materials and product flows. Since the beginning of December, more than 500 new employees have been hired and trained. Lifebrain currently employs a total of almost 1,700 people from 54 nations.
Based on more than twelve months of experience with high-quality PCR testing in large quantities as part of the “Alles-gurgelt!” program, the highly motivated and well-coordinated teams of the logistics partners involved are able to continuously optimize laboratory processes in all areas.
The expansion of the two pavilions now opened for the laboratory and logistics started at the beginning of December. Within just eight weeks, the infrastructure was completely renovated, approx. 237 km of data lines and 182 km of power cables were laid, a dedicated 800 kVA transformer station including a 700 kVA emergency power generator was installed, and the hygienically clean, germ-free atmosphere required for laboratory operations was created. 30 new pipetting robots and 40 PCR analyzers were ordered, delivered, installed and put through their paces at very short notice, despite the current enormously high demand on the world market. Another logistics center was rebuilt and optimized for the efficient preparation of incoming samples for analysis.
The findings in the Vienna ‘Alles gurgelt!’ program are practically without exception available within the scheduled 24 hours, and often well below that.” To this end, the working group led by Lifebrain had used the summer months intensively to optimize all logistics and laboratory processes and to diversify the supply chains for test kits and laboratory materials, among other things.
“We have created a European showcase project in Vienna and demonstrated that PCR testing for hundreds of thousands of people per week can be managed without significant problems. Good preparation and ongoing development with all partners were and are the key to this,” says Vienna’s City Councillor for Health Peter Hacker.
“I can only express my gratitude for what each and every one of us in our great team is doing here day after day together with all those involved” adds Heinz Marx, “in this way we are making an important contribution to containing the pandemic. That’s why we at Syngroup are proud to be part of the “Alles-gurgelt!” project!”