Asset management is a system that allows laboratories to acquire, operate, maintain, dispose of and renew their instruments with reduced risk and cost. It is a system of management practices that apply to every asset at every level of the organization.
The main reason for implementing an asset management system for a research organization is to ensure access to the most current research technologies available while striving to minimize costs and logistical management.
In the context of a scientific research organization, asset management activities include:
- Sourcing of instruments
- Logistics and transportation management
- Life cycle costing for all equipment
- Assess benefits vs. costs of equipment acquisition, replacement, repairs and maintenance
- Develop and manage the policies, schedules and procedures for equipment condition assessment and maintenance
- Train laboratory staff on how to operate the instrument
- Manage the disposition of instruments at their end of life
Sourcing of instruments
After the ideal instrument need has been identified, the search begins. Whether looking for a new or pre-owned instrument, this criteria narrows the list of preferred and reliable suppliers. Knowing which suppliers to contact and how to efficiently find the right available instrument is key at this stage. Delays with sourcing trickle down and increase the time lag during the rest of the process so efficiently sourcing for lab instruments is one of the key components of sound asset management.
Assess benefits vs. costs of equipment acquisition, replacement, repairs and maintenance
Once the ideal instrument is located, know your options around acquiring it. Is it best to buy, lease, finance? Are there favorable reasons why your organization should choose one over the other? Determining what process is involved beyond the purchase price is key when equipping a lab with vital instrumentation and essential to your best use of company capital.
Logistics and transportation management
The physical shipping, delivery and installation an instrument to the lab requires planning to help avoid added expense or delays. Logistical decisions require detailed pre-planning for budget, and time reasons. A delivery of this magnitude needs to be managed so the lab experiences minimal disruption. This complexity increases if the instrument is arriving from out-of-country.
Life cycle costing for all equipment
This process estimates and assesses the total cost of ownership to your company over the instrument’s useful life. This takes into account the additional money you will spend while using the instrument, not just its upfront ticket price. These costs include such items as maintenance and tax expense. Ensuring the financial calculations are sound and accurate helps contribute to the organization’s best use of capital for laboratory instruments.
Develop/manage policies, schedules and procedures for equipment condition assessment and maintenance
Just like a car, but more important to your organization, is the optimal running and condition of the equipment. Regular scheduled maintenance and proper day-to-day operation of the instrument is of course imperative. As such, it is vital to have a developed process of SOP’s that can minimize or eliminate downtime and project delays.
Manage the disposition/Recovery of instruments at their end of life
The process of “getting rid of” obsolete or unwanted instruments in a safe, economical and (if needed) ecologically-responsible manner is very desirable. The process streamlines costs, minimizes lab disruption and maximizes any recovery value.
Without these vital elements of asset management in place organizationally, the common approach is to buy laboratory instruments outright. This means the ongoing utilization, maintenance and management of the instrument less clear and flexible, potentially tying up individual resources, capital and time that can take away from the focus of the lab.
Paul Corcoran is President & CEO of McKinley Scientific. Contact us today for a no-obligation conversation about asset management processes for lab instruments