10 Ways to Decrease Cost Per Sample in Your Laboratory



There are several ways to reduce the cost per sample in a throughput laboratory. In this paper, we go over some of the easier ways to reduce your sample cost. Investing the time into being smarter and leaner can have great outcomes for your laboratory giving it the competitive edge to scale into the future.


Increase sample numbers with existing resources

Capitalize on fixed costs such as wages and rent. Look at ways to increase your sample numbers to optimize laboratory processes. Your throughput process could be underutilized, directly resulting in a high cost per sample. Boosting sample throughput can pressurize your resources and consequently lower the cost per sample. The biggest contributor in this lever is employee wages, as this cost remains fairly consistent whether the staff are working at 50% capacity or 90% capacity. Rent is also a fixed cost,  as optimizing your space won’t necessarily increase the rent per square meter, but could in turn decrease your sample costs, and increase efficiencies.


Increase staff output through efficiencies and workflow

Assess all workflows and processes within your laboratory space. Are there clear lines of workflow? Are there crosshairs in your spaghetti diagram? These are most likely inefficiencies that directly result in slowing your process down. Look at how you can optimize your internal space to ensure it is best utilized to reduce waste such as motion. Perform time and motion studies before and after a process to see how averages can be reduced. This will have a direct effect on the reduction of cost per sample.


Reduce cost of rent or facility

The current rent of your footprint is generally a fixed cost, whether you are running at 50% capacity or 100% capacity. Negotiate with your landlord to see if these costs can be reduced. Look at a long-term lease agreement to assist with reduction of lease. Look at relocation of facility to more economical location to assist with reduction of cost per square meter. Keep in mind your customers geographical location while considering the that of current employees.

Decrease average cost of inventory

Consider a strategic partnership with companies who will assist you with your purpose. Run a tender with your current consumable list considering items of utmost importance such as average delivery time, speed of service and cost of goods. Provide average annual volumes to suppliers so they can assist with economies of scale. Consider a valet store that a supplier can manage to assist you with a reduction of internal resources. Keep a table on your profits and losses periodically to ensure your target budgets are being met.


Decrease laboratory footprint.

Is your laboratory too big? Are you under-utilizing areas of your laboratory that could be cut out in view of a reduction in rent? A footprint that is too big can also lead to unnecessary motion of staff resulting in waste. Look at downgrading laboratory size if it is substantially underutilized. Laboratory staff may not always be happy with this concept, but it can have some direct results on cost per sample.




Decrease number of employees.

This is a sensitive topic. Do you have any staff that are not being fully utilized? Is every staff member contributing to your purpose? Can staff be decreased though divisions of labour and economies of scale? Look at every staff member and how they contribute to the purpose of the laboratory. Are they adding or subtracting to your throughput? Can the role be automated to increase accuracy and speed?


Invest in automation

Look for automation opportunities in your industry. What process can you automate with technology to increase speed and accuracy? Network with other leading laboratory groups in your industry and look at how they are investing in automation to leverage reduction of cost per sample. Think outside your nation. Ideas can come from many parts of the world. Look at leading countries in automation and consider trade shows and automation expos to assist with stimulation of ideas.


Leverage your economic denominator

Identify and leverage your economic denominator. What is your number? Is it the right number? Can this this number be improved over two or more set periods? Can your number be publicized into multiple laboratories to assist with competitive leveraging of efficiencies? Understand your number and use it to gain a competitive edge in your industry through the reduction of cost per sample.


Publicize your KPI score boards

Visual management is powerful. Do your staff know if you are winning or losing? Would they be interested in how your other labs are staking up against them? Publicize your output with  targets vs actual output to provide a benchmark. Healthy competition between laboratories is a great way to leverage outcomes. Reward laboratory teams on results based on reduction of cost per sample. Live dashboards and visual dashboards are a great way to get employees to buy-in to your purpose and program.


Consider division of labour

Divisions of labour is a powerful lever that can greatly assist with the reduction of cost per sample and is applicable with economies of scale. Large and successful 3rd party laboratory providers use divisions of labour to optimize the workflow of sample rather than staff. A common term in the industry is “Sample is King” How can you get a sample through in the quickest possible time without jeopardizing the accuracy of the test method? Looking at your process in divisions is an intelligent method to reduce cost per sample.



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