Purchasing laboratory equipment is one of the biggest investments your laboratory will ever make. It is essential that you consider multiple facets of the purchase to maximize your return on investment. We’ve compiled a list of key things to take into consideration when choosing the best laboratory equipment to suit your needs.
Availability – Generally, when you are looking at buying laboratory equipment, you will want the equipment to be delivered promptly. Often laboratory equipment will be imported from overseas and out of stock items could take up to 10 weeks to deliver. Look for products that are in stock and available for immediate delivery. If stock isn’t available, make sure you get your potential supplier to quote a lead time allowing you to compare price with the corresponding lead time to determine if you can compromise on lead time for a better price or vise versa.
After Sales Support – It is often a good idea to ask your supplier what kind of after sales support they offer. If something was to go wrong or you need assistance with using the equipment, it is great to know that you can pick up the phone and get prompt support with your inquiry.
Warranty – Warranty is super important when considering a piece laboratory equipment. Warranties do vary dramatically between manufacturers and the type of warranty support you receive can also vary. Here are some questions to ask when looking into a warranty:
How long is the warranty period? – Take a look at the warranty period being offered. Check to see when the warranty begins (does it begin at time of purchase? Or time of receipt?) and when it expires. Do you need to register the product to obtain the warranty?
What voids the warranty? – It’s worth taking the time to look into what will void the warranty and whether your application may risk doing this. Warranties are generally only covered provided you use the product as directed. There is nothing worse than sending the equipment back for a warranty claim only to have the manufacturer advise that the warranty is void.
Who do I contact to make a warranty claim? – Who do you contact for a warranty claim? Do you contact the seller or manufacturer? Ideally you want to claim a warranty from the company in which you purchased the equipment as they have a record of everything in their system and can deal with your warranty promptly.
What is the warranty process? – What is the process of a warranty claim? Are you required to send the product back to your supplier and will you have to pay for this return freight charge? Will the supplier repair the product, replace it, or refund the transaction. Are there any additional costs that you may need to cover in the event of a warranty claim. It is worth looking into this process upfront. A hassle free warranty claim procedure is a huge advantage and worth taking into consideration.
Is there an extended warranty option? – Extended warranties are sometimes offered by suppliers for an additional charge. When deciding on whether an extended warranty is worth it or not, take into account the cost of the equipment and the corresponding extended warranty charge to determine if the additional investment is worth it. It’s also worth looking at what the extended warranty covers and if it is different to the standard warranty. Don’t be pressured into an extended warranty, do some quick calculations on your own accord to help you make an informed decision.
Servicing – Will your equipment require routine servicing? If so, will this be done by internal maintenance personnel or do you require a more specialised technician? Some manufacturers have approved servicing technicians located throughout Australia. Your supplier should be able to help you source these technicians to arrange servicing of your equipment. Make sure you look into the servicing requirements in regards to warranty, in some instances, warranty is void if the equipment hasn’t been serviced by an approved servicing technician at set intervals.
Usage – Usage is an often overlooked factor but should be considered in the decision process. Equipment that is regularly used on a daily basis will mean quality and reliability is much more important than someone who uses the equipment a few times per annum. Take into account your usage and purchase accordingly. The higher the usage, the more performance and reliability will become of further importance.
Price – While many would argue that price should be at the top of the list in the decision making process, there are a few things to consider when looking at the price. Remember, the cost price of the equipment is not the total cost of ownership (TCO). There are many things that add to the TCO over the lifetime of the product, these can include installation costs, operating costs, maintenance costs, and even things such as user-efficiency. TCO can be compared with total benefits of ownership (TBO) which looks into what return the company will see from purchasing the equipment. Depending on what equipment is being purchased, an analysis of TCO and TBO may or may not be required. For example, it is probably not worth doing this analysis when purchasing 1 piece of equipment valued at $200, but may be hugely valuable to do so on a piece of equipment worth $20,000. It is a good idea to put a procedure in place whereby a TCO/TBO analysis is required for equipment purchases over X amount.
It can certainly become a daunting task when trying to decide on the right laboratory equipment. Hopefully these 6 considerations will help you streamline your decision making process and substantially reduce the buying cycle. Your supplier should be there to guide you through the process and support you in your decision. Remember, a good supplier will have your best interests in mind and won’t try to sell you something you don’t need. Look for suppliers who you can trust and are authentic in their approach, it will make your life a lot easier both now, and anytime you need their assistance in the future.