By Matt Logan, Senior Account Executive, JK Commercial Services
The smart approach to buying lab equipment
Whether fully equipping a new lab or replacing existing equipment in an established one, investment in specialized equipment requires smart decision-making. Aside from cost, there are a range of factors to consider including preferred vendors, the need for warranty or service contracts, and whether purchasing new or used equipment is a better option. Here are some important things every lab manager should consider before purchasing laboratory equipment.
Before you buy lab equipment
Make a list: Every project benefits from good planning and buying laboratory equipment is no different. Consult the teams who will be using the equipment and get a detailed picture of their needs. Once the product list is fully drafted, take a close look to determine if there is a specific brand or particular models and features that are non-negotiable for your lab’s success. With a solid list of equipment and main features and specifications in hand, you are ready to begin the buying process.
Review vendor options: Are you most interested in buying new equipment directly from a manufacturer? Would you consider third-party suppliers or online auction sites that may offer both new and used options from a range of brands? Ask your peers for recommendations and referrals, and give careful consideration to your own experience with vendors to determine your preferences. Keep in mind that manufacturers may also sell used, demo, or discontinued models at reduced cost, which may meet your budget needs while allowing you to work directly with the company that is most knowledgeable about their equipment.
Research costs: Like buying a car or any other high-ticket consumer item, purchasing life science or medical lab equipment starts with careful research. Does the price of an item include service charges? Are warranty or service contracts offered with purchase? Look into the ongoing cost of using the instrument and buying replacement parts. It may turn out that buying a discontinued, used, or even a lower-priced new piece of equipment increases costs in the long run if it becomes difficult to maintain or repair. Set a budget and work within it to find the most satisfactory and affordable options.
The final steps to successfully buy laboratory equipment
Evaluate new vs. used: Having completed a fair bit of research, you are now in a good position to determine if purchasing used lab equipment is a convenient or affordable option. If so, ask about the history and track record of each instrument and request review of maintenance logs. As noted in the next tip, you should also ask for a product demo as you want to be sure equipment is fully functional before you buy.
Inquire about demos and training: It’s important to test-drive lab equipment to assess its ease of use and proper fit for your needs. Asking for a demonstration is also a great way to determine if a vendor knows their product well and will be a reliable resource for you. Determine what type of training is provided as well. Some manufacturers offer onsite training while others may provide online tools or instruction manuals.
Negotiate price and service contacts: Lab equipment, like many costly goods, has negotiable rates. Collect quotes from several vendors (getting three competitive bids is standard) and compare the rates to negotiate price as well as better post-purchase service contracts or longer warranties.