Over the past decade, most global pharmaceutical companies have cut their R&D budgets in an effort to become more nimble, productive, and increase their overall return on investment. At one Big Pharma company, part of that process involved changing how it maintained and serviced its extensive array of scientific instruments across its North American R&D sites. In the past, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) handled maintenance and repairs under traditional service contracts. Under that system, the company’s scientists were responsible for every step of the service vendor relationship, from initiating service calls, troubleshooting over the phone, and managing the repair engineer’s visit, to tracking field service reports and scheduling preventative maintenance visits. It was not only a time-consuming process, these non-value-added tasks wasted an inordinate amount of staff time and millions of company dollars. To reverse the trend, the company decided to migrate to a single provider model for laboratory equipment maintenance and repair services. The service was PerkinElmer® OneSource® laboratory services.
From Rocky Start to Surprise Savings
One of the company’s major U.S. sites was initially a reluctant participant in this transition process. Its scientists had grown accustomed to dealing with multiple vendors with little thought ever given to overall efficiencies. If equipment required repair, company staffers handled all of the arrangements themselves. What they did not fully realize, however, was the cost of their own time in that equation. One study at a rival Big Pharma company estimated that 25 percent of a scientist’s time is spent overseeing contractors and instruments rather than conducting research. 1 No one ever imagined that the OneSource solution would result in a 23% cost savings at the end of the first calendar year in 2010. By 2014, those savings jumped to 33% -- along with overall service level satisfaction.
Why OneSource Works
As its name implies, the primary advantage of OneSource services is the centralization of all laboratory equipment service activities. OneSource services fields requests from the scientists, triages the incident (many times within minutes of the request), oversees the repair, documents all activities along the way, and manages the relationship with the vendor (if it is not a OneSource engineer making the repair).
In a data-driven world, one of the more useful aspects of working with OneSource services is data availability through the InSite Analytics Platform, primarily the OneSource Portal. Equipment inventory with room number, unique client tag ID, repair history, repair costs, and field service reports are invaluable to company managers overseeing laboratory equipment service programs. Readily available inventories also help the company decide which equipment to cover by contract and which to operate “at risk.” Owing to the excellent data availability, the site’s repair costs fell by a third on a per scientist basis.
Another key success factor was choosing a OneSource on-site engineer with a skill set that matched the company’s greatest equipment pain point. In this case, it was a fleet of LC/MS instruments from a common vendor. The engineer that the company chose was trained by the OEM vendor and had over 10 years’ experience in the field servicing its equipment. The onsite presence of a qualified equipment service engineer is critical. This person is the first responder to any service incident and often is able to make the repair on the spot. The rapid response has raised equipment service levels. Down time is reduced even if the on-site engineer is unable to make the repair and the services of a third party are needed as OneSource leverages its global capabilities and expertise to expedite service calls.
Personnel continuity also plays a critical role in the success of the company’s partnership with OneSource. Since the inception of the program, PerkinElmer has provided the services of the same OneSource engineer and OneSource administrator. They know their client’s scientists, equipment, and business priorities. Moreover, they tailor their services to make their client company successful.
How? The on-site engineer understands that keeping the equipment running is in the best interests of both PerkinElmer and the client company. Every Monday morning, for instance, the OneSource engineer runs daily maintenance checks on several key instruments to ensure that they are performing as expected. If there is a problem, the engineer typically provides twice-daily updates to a customer counterpart on the status of repairs.
The on-site OneSource administrator, meanwhile, manages all of the business details. In addition to cutting all of the purchase orders for third-party or OEM repairs as needed, the administrator manages all of the documentation and vendor visits on time, every time.
Roadmap to the Future
PerkinElmer’s relationship with Big Pharma clients has developed into something far more significant than just consumables management and instrument maintenance. For example, PerkinElmer’s OneSource® laboratory services also offers fully integrated methods to accelerate the discovery and sharing of Big Data results needed to monitor and enhance overall productivity and profitability using advanced laboratory information management systems including visualization programs like TIBCO™ Spotfire®. Adoption of this “better, faster, and easier” road map in the discovery process is helping client companies distinguish themselves from their competitors.
The Bottom Line
You cannot argue with success. Sharply reduced costs, improved service, and scientists doing more of what they do best—research—are all having a cumulative, positive effect on this particular pharmaceutical company’s bottom line. What is the secret sauce that makes the relationship work so well? Maybe it all comes down to having the right ingredients: a compelling need to find a better way to conduct business, a single-source provider with a global reputation for service and expertise… and great people working together to help propel their respective companies to remain at the forefront of scientific discovery.
- Tanuja Koppal, "Optimizing Lab Services: Evaluating the Single-Vendor Option", Lab Manager (April 30, 2013).