Forty years ago, I joined a team of energetic, curious and innovative young people, who were looking to revolutionize the electrode market with a new concept. The fact that the Thermo Scientific™ Orion™ Ross™ pH Electrode is still the best on the market is due to a dedicated R&D team, solid technology, a good design, skilled manufacturing, a consistent product, reliable suppliers, efficient marketing, and response to customers’ needs.
I was recruited from Boston University to create an original, all glass design, and to switch production from outsourcing to in-house. Changing the manufacturing procedure was crucial to the success of the project: production by skilled glassblowers abroad was expensive and meant that quantities were limited. Our focus on training our own technicians in assembly line techniques, and on developing semi-automated machines and tools specialized for the production of the electrode, made it possible to improve quality, increase quantities, and reduce costs. It propelled Orion to its status as a leading name in the market. This happened in Cambridge, Mass. in a new building on the Charlesbank. The place was full of a sense of camaraderie, cooperation and enthusiasm at all levels, constant brainstorming, informality, and shoptalk at the lunch bar. Jim Ross came from MIT, along with John Reisman. They were joined by Alex Avdeef, Martin Frant, Steve Duchan, Bob Caporiccio, myself and others, all united in the common feeling that something new and exciting was about to be born.
The Puerto Rico facility was equipped with specially made tools, and new techniques were taught. I set up the assembly line, and trained the team to produce the components, using semi-automated machines that were designed in-house. The P.R. manufacturing facility enabled us to manufacture the electrode with its trademark feature—a coil providing a large storage space for the reference solution—while maintaining a high level of quality.
The prize-winning ROSS electrode was a novel, compatible, all glass concept of measuring pH without the issue of temperature’s effects on solubility. The design was an intricate innovative concept. It features a reservoir in a trademarked glass coil, which makes it longer lasting. It is refillable, with a flushable outer junction, which enables a fresh reading each time. The ROSS electrode was, and remains, Orion’s and Thermo Scientific’s flagship electrode. New markets were opened, the Navy chose the electrode as its standard electrode, and a new way was paved to the development of other new electrodes.
For me, the development process of the Orion™ ROSS™ Sure-Flow™ pH electrode marked the beginning of many years of designing innovative electrodes, with in-house designed machines and tools. I am proud to have been a part of the original team that changed the field in terms of chemistry, design, and production.
Moshe Hirshberg—July 2021