Uptown Greenville, NC


Metrics Gives Clients Close-Up Views to Process

BY K.J. Williams
The Daily Reflector

December 13, 2010 - Metrics Inc. has devised a way to give its clients the ability to watch every step of their products' development from anywhere via a computer screen.

Cameras allow close-ups of procedures that would be difficult to observe otherwise. This web-based streaming video service can get a view that's just inches from laboratory equipment.

Employees at the Greenville company have developed and manufactured pharmaceuticals since 1994, working with a variety of clients, including virtual startups that have devised a pharmaceutical but lack the infrastructure to develop it fully.

“We do contract development work, so we're developing new medicines for these large to virtual companies,” Mike Ruff, vice president of pharmaceutical development, said. “We make batch sizes from 100 tablets to a million tablets.”

Companies often send representatives to observe the process that's taking place in sterile environments from outside the room through glass windows. Sometimes, this distance can cause poor visibility into some processes.

A representative may spend hours sitting in a chair watching, Ruff said. Global clients want to maintain control of the procedures through observation and give feedback.

Ruff said he and others brainstormed to find a better way, and the low-cost and effective method of using cameras for observation was the result. The process to allow global customers to observe via a broadcast through a secure server on their computer screens was introduced and tested.

Ruff said clients have a better view on their computers than they had first-hand at the site.

The client can use the camera to zoom into the process for a closer look.

“From a laptop anywhere, they can control the camera,” Ruff said. “You can broadcast it securely anywhere — anyone who has a laptop can watch what's going on as we're working on their product.

“It's been one of those ‘aha' moments for clients,” he said, adding it's a simple fix to a long-standing problem.

The process is still in its testing phase but is expected to be standard operating procedure early next year, said Jeff Basham, vice-president of business development.

Metrics does produce some pharmaceuticals onsite, but most of its work is in the development arena. “Once a product is developed and finalized it goes into the commercial side of manufacturing,” Basham said.

Metrics' president, Phil Hodges, who founded the company along with John Bray, said the use of video service for the business is groundbreaking.

“Technology introduced us to time- and travel-saving conveniences such as teleconferences and webinars, so it makes sense that Metrics would use technology to work even more closely and collaboratively with our clients worldwide,” Hodges said.

Contact K.J. Williams at kwilliams@reflector.com or (252) 329-9588.