Good asset management ensures that key considerations such as validation, compliance and maintenance do not intrude on the essential work being carried out by your lab, says Kevin Keras.
No matter the size of your organisation, a harmonised approach to asset management can yield huge benefits in productivity. For pharma and biotech companies, an uncoordinated effort across multiple labs within different sites spread across several geographies can have a compounded impact on costs both in the form of operating expenses (OpEx) and productivity.
Equipment reliability is fundamental to achieving scientific outcomes. Regardless of a laboratory’s focus, instrumentation must be operational and available when needed. Anything short of that jeopardises outcomes and drives up costs.
Ensuring that lab instrumentation remains functional involves an array of additional responsibilities, such as keeping track of service contracts, scheduling periodic maintenance, qualifications and validation. A recent study highlighted that some scientists can spend as much as 25% of their time on these non-core tasks . While man y businesses initially focus on reducing existing OpEx spend, it quickly becomes clear that returning time back to core scientific activities is the less understood value of a well designed and implemented asset management program.
Pharmaceutical and biotech organisations are often comprised of many individual labs, each working on a specific mission with its own people, instruments, and budgets. Returning time back to core scientific activity provides two primary benefits, one is obvious, the other not so much until you step outside the OpEx bubble. First, getting 25% more people just to achieve expected scientific outcomes is highly unlikely, even in the best of times. Second, since the end goal of those scientific efforts is to achieve a financially beneficial net result for the company, freeing up more time to achieve those goals will help get to said endpoint faster.
Advance therapeutic outcomes or get a drug to market faster and the financial gains to the company can be enormous.
Reining In the horses
Lacking a holistic understanding of broadbased processes, needs and organisational goals can result in non-uniform approaches to instrument management. This contributes to a host of issues, including unexpected or prolonged downtime that delays research, triggers poor compliance and can create unverifiable results.
As such, vendor management has become a crucial need for labs to ensure optimal efficiency. However, as many individual labs interact with multiple vendors, aligning and coordinating the various external teams can be both challenging and costly.
Given the ever-increasing pressures for labs to increase throughput and become more efficient, a multi-vendor asset management service could be the answer to their needs, helping bring down costs and maximise scientific productivity.
There are only a handful of providers that offer global asset management solutions to Life Science companies, but how their offerings differ is not always obvious. Asset management isn’t just coordinating maintenance, when done properly it can tie together metadata across multiple sites and provide insights into equipment performance trends, age-related support considerations, utilisation and drive both OpEx and CapEx spend optimisation. As such, it is important to evaluate the providers’ value propositions above and beyond simple cost saving. An objective comparison of tools, methodologies and long-term value is time well spent before making a multi-year commitment.
There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to asset management and businesses may be wise to consider changes to their longstanding approaches to unlock the full potential of their labs.
It’s for these reasons that clients should seek out a provider that challenges them on their status quo as opposed to selecting one that simply agrees with everything stated in an RFP. Seek out trusted advisors as opposed to a salesperson who is telling you what you want to hear, instead of what you need to hear.
A lab’s long-term expectations should also be a factor in selecting a service. While outsourcing internal support structures can provide immediate cost savings, the gains in productivity far overshadow this in terms of the financial impact a provider can mak e on a lab. Therefore, when examining potential service providers, look beyond the immediate short-term gains and look deeper at what greater synergies a provider can deliver for your labs. This can include additional offerings such as data analytics and Lab-IT support as well as professional and scientific personnel augmentation services. While some asset management providers are focused on simple immediate cost savings, others provide comprehensive services that both complement and drive scientific outcomes.
Knowledge is key
Multi-vendor asset management services are an opportunity for businesses to increase their productivity, both in the lab and on the general ledger. By freeing scientists and researchers from peripheral, non-core tasks, labs can spend more time on science and less time on instrumentation. They can also gain access to multi-vendor service expertise that maximises what they get out of their instruments. Making the best choice rests on a business’ understanding of what their individual labs need and what exactly is being offered to them. As such, selecting a partner that possesses a deep resumé of successes that is aligned with your scientific outcomes can often result in smoother sailing and the discovery of unanticipated value.
- Kevin Keras is Global Director, Asset Management Service Portfolio for OneSource Laboratory Services at PerkinElmer
1 Source Scientific Services Brochure, (https://resources.perkinelmer.com/lab-solutions/resources/docs/BRO_ONE_ScientificServices.pdf) 2015