Instrument Inventory and Utilization

Critical Components to Lab Optimization


Lab inefficiency can be a significant roadblock for biopharmaceutical companies striving to bring new drugs to market faster and cost effectively. Maintenance issues, instrument redundancy, the use of multiple vendors, and instrument compatibility can cause costly delays, which quickly escalate and derail drug development.

One reason for this lab inefficiency is the lack of visibility into instrument inventory, availability, and utilization. This can lead to duplicate purchases and inefficient use of equipment, ultimately resulting in excess cost. However, when procurement teams have a better understanding of these factors, informed purchasing decisions can be made, improving efficiencies and creating savings to be invested back into target pharma R&D.

The High Cost of an Inefficient Lab

Insufficient visibility into instrument availability and utilization is a challenge many labs face, especially across multiple labs, facilities, and geographies. When labs are run inefficiently, a variety of problems can erupt, including loss of an experiment due to run failure, resulting in valuable samples being lost.

As labs continue to fight budget reductions and hiring freezes, scientists often need to take on more tasks outside of their assigned scientific role and skill set. Instead of conducting vital research, highly trained scientists are wasting valuable hours calling in maintenance issues, performing basic instrument troubleshooting, or waiting for instruments to come back online, which can lead to the unproductive use of their highly compensated time.

An additional cause for concern is that the validity of the work and research being performed could come into question. Improperly installed or calibrated equipment could impact downstream drug discovery phases if instruments are not in compliance with regulatory standards. These results may not be accepted as valid, which could then cause delays bringing their product to market.

In the end, not having clear visibility into your lab’s instruments and equipment can ultimately impact the release of a new drug.

Solutions That Lead Your Science and Purchasing Decisions

It’s critical to enhancing your laboratory’s daily workflow by consistently working toward process improvement. Generally, organizations have a tendency to manually estimate their inventory and instrument usage, which is not only laborious but can also quickly become outdated and inaccurate. Even worse, when duplicate instruments or equipment are purchased – because labs are unsure of what they already own, or a current instrument’s utilization availability – unnecessary spending occurs.

A way to avoid this is to have skilled onsite personnel who are dedicated, comprehensively, to your lab and its workflow. It’s important that they clearly understand the science being performed, which will help define instrument availability and usage. Additionally, having dedicated onsite support enables you to tailor instrumentation to the customized needs of the individual scientist or technician. This ensures day-to-day activities run smoothly, as well as provide real-time visibility into how your lab is operating, framing its ongoing future successes.

Importance of Analytics

Labs can have hundreds of instruments being used at different times. This abundant inventory often generates a lack of clarity around what instruments and equipment are available, resulting in redundancy concerns.

Without a dedicated resource examining how the overall lab is being run, it’s difficult to diagnose how existing equipment is being utilized and avoid purchasing duplicate instruments. Creating an up-to-date inventory of available instrumentation and having access to in-depth analytics to show how they are being used can help alleviate this problem. With the right analytics, you can make better decisions as to whether or not additional instruments are required or if existing instruments can be shared across sites.

Beyond utilization, an embedded service provider will also deliver information regarding the life expectancies of the technology that drives your equipment. This lab partner can analyze issues that arise and then determine the cause of instrument failure. This data and their insights will help you determine when equipment must be replaced because it’s reached the end of its lifecycle or if routine repair is all that’s needed.

Given that most labs are working at full capacity and must make every minute of their day count, a partner needs to be able to provide a comprehensive analysis of lab utilization, which can help determine the best route to achieving better performance. In addition, when labs have dedicated partners who are focused on their workflows and processes, there’s easier access to asset and service data in real time, regardless of where the instruments is physically located. This immediate availability of data allows you to view and analyze information to minimize bottlenecks and ensure instruments are up and running. Customized recommendations designed to optimize, integrate, and accelerate lab operations can be developed to propel future success.

Real World Utilization Value Drivers

The power of providing insights from the intersection of system utilization, service operation data, and instrument lineage/age is compelling. Figure 1 highlights five high-value workflows across both CapEx and OpEx categories. This information provides lab managers, procurement teams, and R&D the ability to ensure that the most productive assets are in the right labs with an optimal operating cost profile. Labs with optimized instruments and access to these instruments drive science throughput as well.

Figure 1. Examples of Utilization Workflows and Value Drivers

In addition, having a single point of contact greatly simplifies the process. With immediate frontline support, instrument uptime is increased, unplanned downtime is minimized, and consumables management is optimized.


Labs are dynamic places. Different teams of researchers are able to work toward their own objectives, at their own pace. This means the lab environment is constantly changing, evolving, and refocusing as business needs and teams change.

By having a good understanding of your lab’s instruments and how they’re being utilized, your lab can run more efficiently and effectively, saving time and money. And when your procurement teams are provided with analytics to better understand the instruments in each lab, they can make more informed purchasing decisions that can help your company reach its goals.

At the same time, your scientists are able to focus more on their research and less on noncore activities, allowing them to bring their blockbuster drugs to market faster.