Since the launch of TetraScience Utilization, a business intelligence solution that provides analytics and reporting around capital instrument usage, we’ve been able to identify unique trends in instrument utilization with our customers.
We’ve also identified trends in the way our customers use these insights to make data-driven decisions around lab asset management. Though they may refer to these actions by different names from company to company, they generally place them into four buckets, or what we call “The Four R’s”.
Retirement is often the first benefit that jumps to mind when people think of instrument usage tracking. Retiring underused instruments frees up expenses and resources tied to unreliable, older (in some cases, they may be brand new) instruments. Underused instruments suck up the time and attention of operations and scientists alike. Anytime a preventative maintenance or recalibration is required, time taken away from their other responsibilities.
Retiring instruments isn’t reserved just for large R&D organizations, either. Forward-thinking start-ups and mid-tier biotechs take advantage of these insights as well. For small to medium-sized organizations focused on R&D, every square foot of lab space is extremely valuable. If they can retire an instrument to make room for a new requisition or desk area, it’s a no-brainer.
Redeploying instruments takes a bit more effort than retirement, but is where benefits begin to multiply. As capital acquisition requests pour in, decision-makers rarely have the means to compare each request to their database of instruments. For example, if there’s an underutilized mass spec lying around in Building A, and a scientist from Building B is looking for something with similar capabilities, it is significantly cheaper to simply move that mass spec to where the scientist can access it. Redeploying instruments can enable instrument purchase outlay.
So far we’ve talked about the ability to make an impact on capital expenses. What about operating expenses? Although the returns may not be as big as avoiding an instrument purchase entirely, our customers typically find that a wide range of instruments are eligible to have service contracts reduced. Labs can optimize service contracts by increasing intervals between preventative maintenance, reducing the tiers of service they have (ie: “Cadillac” coverage to a tier beneath that), and eliminating service contracts completely. On the flip side, there are also times where instrument usage has been underrepresented and service contracts should be increased.
An added benefit of optimizing service is instrument downtime is dramatically reduced as well. Much in the same way you change your car’s oil based on mileage and not time driven, having a reading of the instrument’s “odometer” helps ensure it’s a smoother-running machine.
Last but not least, in some cases, our customers have found it to be more beneficial to purchase a new instrument rather than let existing conditions lie. Imagine having an instrument reserved for walk-up capacity, but after monitoring it, you notice that the usage is quite high and scientists are bottlenecked waiting to access it. If redeploying another instrument is not an option, then purchasing a new instrument will ensure that this productivity chokehold is eliminated and projects can be completed faster. It goes without saying, requisitioning instruments should be done after great investigation; otherwise, you’ll start back at square one.
If you’re interested in getting an idea of the numbers associated with The Four R’s, take a trip to our utilization calculator.
Learn more about TetraScience Utilization