Asset Managers That Are OEMs
The leading lab asset management firms are themselves OEMs. From their perspective, “lab asset management is a value-added service to your clients,” as Luis Rodriguez, director of business development for Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Asset Management Services, puts it.
From the client’s perspective, it lets them focus on their key competencies while cutting costs, notes PerkinElmer’s (www.perkinelmer.com) Martin Long, business director for OneSource®. “This goes back to the business drivers in the industry,” he says. “Pharma is looking to cut costs in each area they can,” and exchanging 50 to 100 OEM service agreements for one contract and one invoice simplifies asset management and maintenance administration.
For example, Agilent (www.agilent.com) reports that one of its big pharma clients cut average downtime per instrument, per incident from 30 hours to nine hours when it contracted for lab asset management. Employee time devoted to trying to resolve the issue dropped from nine hours to one hour, and the number of process steps to get it fixed dropped from 20 to 10.
Likewise, Agilent’s regulatory compliance services suite decreased the time for a particular calibration test from four days to one day by simplifying the review and approval methods.
The expertise gained from exposure to so many different instruments as well as various brands and models of the same type of instrument gives asset management firms best practices insights that may not be available from in-house or even OEM sources, according to David Heiger, Ph.D., worldwide marketing manager for Agilent Services.
The specific benefits, however, will vary among management companies and among their clients. “All the service models are different,” Rodriguez notes. Sometimes, each solution within a model may be also different.
At Thermo Fisher Scientific, Rodriguez says a client’s lab size isn’t an issue. The company offers three service options. Under its managed maintenance option, the customer chooses the vendor on a time and materials contract, and Thermo provides the resources and tools to manage maintenance at a reduced cost. That allows a company to continue receiving service from its established OEMs or third-party service organizations.
Under Thermo’s multivendor direct service, a service engineer is on site providing a fast response time, familiarity with the instruments, and an established relationship with the client.
“There are, however, certain instruments you can’t put on a time and materials or multivendor contract,” Rodriguez points out. For those, Thermo will manage the entitlements for which the customer has contracted.
Options at PerkinElmer’s OneSource are slightly different. PerkinElmer stresses a client-specific approach in which an engineer may be on site full time or two to three days per week. Additionally, Long says, “We have more than 400 engineers on the field in the U.S.,” and a comparable number in Europe, providing a local field technician option for companies that can’t justify an on-site service engineer.
PerkinElmer’s other option is to work with OEMs directly on a time and materials basis, eliminating clients’ administration and negotiation burdens. Long describes PerkinElmer’s OneSource team as “an army of ants—a tightly knit internal team that responds very quickly. We don’t dither.”
At Agilent, the focus is on large analytical labs with at least 50 mass spectrometers or chromatographs.
“Labs with more than 100 such instruments start to see real savings,” Dr. Heiger says. Agilent’s on-site engineers maintain the chromatographs and mass spectrometers and work with third parties to maintain less sophisticated instruments like pH meters, mixers, and centrifuges.
GE Healthcare offers one service model based on its asset management experience in the energy, aerospace, rail, and healthcare industries. “We’ve found that an on-site manager and on-site service team adapts to specific customer needs and is optimal for cost savings and customer satisfaction,” states Juan Ibarra, strategic marketing director, GE Healthcare Life Sciences Services.
Since it stocks many parts on site, downtime for maintenance and repairs is minimal. GE typically handles about half the equipment, subcontracting the rest to OEMs or third-party service organizations to ensure the right level of technical expertise.
Whatever service model or lab asset management company is used, the first item on the agenda is to get an accurate inventory list. Lab asset managers agree that the lists provided by the client are invariably incorrect and, therefore, inadequate as the basis for a contract.
At PerkinElmer, “we usually find about 30 percent more equipment than they say they have. For example, one company had 2,500 instruments on its inventory. We found 3,500, and there were 1,400 instruments on the list that we couldn’t find.” So, Long says, “we conduct an inventory audit to understand the actual amount of equipment, its condition, the environment in which it’s used, and the critical service issues.”