Lab Managers: Do You Have the Right Lab Instrument Service Contract?

Lab Managers: Do You Have the Right Lab Instrument Service Contract?

The purpose of an ongoing lab instrument service contract is to alleviate downtime.

Does your current contract accomplish that?

A great lab equipment service partner should double as your all-around trusted instrumentation advisor. The ongoing service contract they assemble for you should reflect your unique instrumentation needs and budgetary requirements—as well as include other details necessary for a well-functioning laboratory. Essentially, you should be able to work with your instrumentation partner to design a service contract that fits your lab like a perfectly-tailored suit. The service contract is a legally-binding agreement, so it’s important to explore all areas of the proposal. Below are some items to consider and help evaluate if you have the right service contract for your lab.

Look for flexibility—a custom-crafted ongoing service contract is what most labs need.

Every lab is structured differently. At Full Spectrum Group, we take note of how many instruments the lab uses, which of those instruments are considered critical versus non-critical, the yearly budget for maintenance, what internal resources are available, and more.

A well-designed contract will offer a balanced, structural approach to maintaining your lab instrumentation for optimal performance. Perhaps you have some instrumentation deemed critical to daily operations, but you also have other systems that are not used as frequently, or not critical to your operation. Logic supports the notion that systems used less frequently might need less maintenance, while the other instrumentation requires an additional parts & labor contract with guaranteed response times (due to their critical nature).

It’s rare for consumables and solvents to be included in the overall contract cost. However, if that is what you need, a flexible contract partner will make the commitment to keep your needed supplies in stock and ready for regular shipments.

Don’t get caught with unexpected repair parts and labor costs because your service contract only covers PM.

When comparing potential ongoing lab instrument service contracts, are you really comparing apples to apples? If you’re just skimming to the end of the proposal to see the price, you might be missing critically relevant details. With no mention of covered parts and labor in your contract, you could get caught with a lot of unexpected costs around parts and labor for unplanned instrument failures.

In addition to offering PM-only contracts and other flexible solutions, we often find that a full-service contract is required to provide the right mix of service and support for your lab equipment maintenance program. Preventative maintenance is meant to alleviate unplanned outages, but they continue to happen in active laboratories all the time. Does your current service contract cover the cost of labor and replacement parts? Or does it only cover planned preventative maintenance?

A multi-vendor qualified service partner gives Lab Managers an edge on efficiency.

Flexibility is crucial, so having a service contract partner who works with a multitude of vendors will be the linchpin to your lab’s success. Not only will this simplify your vendor contracts, but you will have one contract partner to help with your entire body of critical and non-critical scientific instrumentation. This alleviates management time and removes unnecessary tedium from your lab’s maintenance structure.

What is the guaranteed response time for unexpected instrumentation failures?

At FSG, our ongoing lab equipment repair contracts include a 48-hour on-site response guarantee for repair and service requests. Equipment downtime in a lab will quickly lead to lost money and missed deadlines. When you are trying to get a product to market in three weeks, that 48-hour response time can be a lifesaver. If your contract doesn’t mention guaranteed response times you could be losing money and time as you wait days or weeks for service.

Some contract partners will offer in-stock guarantees for the parts that you need the most.

As we mentioned before, your service partner should double as your trusted instrumentation advisor. An experienced consultant will know which instruments have expensive parts, which parts have a high rate of failure, how often replacement parts are needed, and other important details necessary to maintain your equipment. The proposal of a seasoned partner will sometimes include an in-stock guarantee for your high-failure parts.

How flexible is the PM portion of your contract?

In many cases, a planned preventative maintenance visit can take an instrument out of operation for a day or two. If you’re on a deadline to get your project to market in a few weeks, this can be a big inconvenience. As a Lab Manager, you should be able to call your contract partner and reschedule those visits at any time. The whole point of a service contract is to ensure the success of your laboratory. The last thing your lab equipment service provider wants is to hinder your lab’s operations in any way.

Extend the working life of your chromatography instrument and save thousands.

Next time your lab instrument service contract is up for review, make sure you are exploring the different ways that you can improve your efficiency, along with the longevity of your scientific instrumentation. Did you experience a lot of unplanned downtime in your lab? It might be time for you to look for a different service partner who can meet all of your needs. Are you interested in getting a proposal from FSG? Please fill out this form and we’ll get back to as soon as possible.