Labrox – Who are we? Part two

Would you like to know who we actually are, and also get to know us better? Then continue reading: I will introduce you to the mastermind of our electronics design, our electrical engineer, Markku Ojala.

Markku Ojala, please tell us about your technical background.

I have a good work experience in the electrical field. In fact, I started working even before the youngest of my colleagues, here at Labrox, were born. Initially, I worked for a telephone company and later on for the electricity departments in the paper and food industries. I graduated as an engineer in 1984 from the Technical Institute of Turku, and during graduation, I also worked in electrical equipment service in Turku.

How has the field of electric design evolved during the years?

When I started designing equipment for the industry, the microcontrollers were still new and not commonly used. They required expensive and complex development tools. In my first working place, we had only one development system shared by five programmers. Because the development system was in use all the time, it was only possible to compile and link your source code every second day.
In 1986, I started working for Wallac. We designed the very first Wallac plate reader called Odin, the official name is Wallac 1234 DELFIA Plate Fluorometer. The instrument was based on an old architecture with only one Z80 controller and an integrated CPM operating system. It was called a stand-alone instrument, as it did not require any external equipment for its operation. For the next instrument, we designed a 16-bit multiprocessor system with additional PC control. The designing of the hardware part for this instrument was undertaken by me.
I had an interesting 24 year work experience with Wallac. I had a huge opportunity to learn about biotechnology and plate reader measuring technologies. Moreover, I made friends with many of my colleagues around the world. We built several instruments during those years and many of them are still in use like AutoDelfia, Victor, EnVision, EnSpire, and DBS-Puncher.

And now… what about Labrox?

For several years, I dreamt of a novel instrument architecture requiring few components and easy cabling. Antero Yli-Koski shared the same opinion, and hence we developed the plate reader architecture in Labrox. This led to a totally new plate reader platform offering full measuring flexibility without limitations. We have already used the platform to add new measurement technologies like Upcon for measuring upconverting nanoparticles, and to make customized measurement heads for example time-resolved fluorescence (TRF) measurements. In fact, these measurement heads, called Labrox Counter, are my favorite Labrox Products, and they represent the skills of Labrox employees.
My job can be considered as one of my hobbies, as this is what I always wanted to achieve.

Although you consider your work as your hobby, do you spare time for other activities?

During winters, I go ice fishing. The Turku archipelago is unbelievably beautiful, and it is easy to catch fish. When the ice is not strong enough on the sea, I go to the lakes, which are located in the middle of Finland.
I have a big 23-m3 sauna at my holiday home, and I enjoy bathing in it. However, it takes two hours to heat; hence, I am building a small summer sauna in the garden so that heating it becomes easy.

Work and play: Markku (on the left) testing the reader with Pauli (our CTO, on the middle) and Jarkko (our mechanics engineer, on the right).