Stocking laboratory supplies can be challenging as there are many different types and brands to choose from and various vendors available. It is even more difficult when choosing for a lab equipment and instrument as it is one of the biggest investments your laboratory will ever make. They include various tools and devices that are required for research institutions and universities, diagnostic labs or industrial companies and companies involved with research and medical development. We’ve summarized a list of key points every lab user should take into consideration before buying laboratory needs.
Many would agree that price should be at the top list in the decision process or purchasing lab stocks or assets. These days, more labs are coming up with efficient ways to make the most of their budget. Remember, other than just looking at the cost price, there are several other things to consider and factor in. These can include delivery and installation cost, operating and maintenance cost and even things such as user-efficiency, quality, and compatibility. You may find the cheapest labware to buy with similar quality and functionality as the expensive options. If you receive a lower quote from one supplier, tell the other suppliers that you can get it for a better price from another vendor. In Malaysia, it is common practice to obtain several competitive bids through online procurement or bidding platform.
Package or rental options
Having financial limits doesn’t mean that you are unable to stock up your lab consumables and supplies or purchase an equipment. Some suppliers may provide special package or bundle offer for you to purchase multiple items or bulk orders at an affordable price. In the case of lab equipment, always pay extra attention on the warranty details, service contract, training and service maintenance. Leasing an equipment or instrument might be the most viable option cost-wise. It’s also the preferred option if you’re looking to acquire equipment that keeps on advancing.
Consider product quality - read reviews or referrals
During the good times, cost isn’t much of an issue. But most of the time - cost might always be a top consideration. However, it is important to make sure the product of your need is of high quality and can be trusted. Always do research on multiple brands and shortlist your preferred ones. This is where reading reviews, publications, asking for referrals, and carefully evaluating product specification and technical sheets become very important. You may also consider asking for a second opinion from your lab manager, supervisor, science officer, or lab mates.
Ask for samples and demonstrations
If timeline isn’t an issue, conducting a simple test on the product samples may also help to simplify the decision-making process. When you are purchasing an equipment, always ask for a demonstration or free trial so you will be able to experience operating the equipment and to see how it works.
Availability – ready stock or pre-order?
Commonly, laboratory supplies and instruments will be imported from overseas and could take up to 20 weeks to deliver. Hence, always look for vendors that have ready stock and able to deliver immediately. In the case of pre order products, make sure you get your potential supplier to quote with lead time allowing you to factor in when negotiating for a better price.
Keep it safe and green
Put your lab team member’s health and safety at the forefront as you purchase laboratory supplies especially chemicals, equipment, machines or devices. Ensure the new instrument functions safely within your laboratory premises and all end users are trained to avoid mishaps. Many labware manufacturers are producing more eco-friendly and sustainable products with the lowest environmental impact, while meeting the quality and requirements. You can choose products that have been manufactured using more reusable and recyclable materials like polyethylene and polypropylene. The selection of green lab equipment is limited and the product features available may or may not meet your requirements. However, energy-efficient equipment runs efficiently when using the least amount of energy hence reduces energy bills. In Malaysia, you can easily identify energy-efficient equipment labelled with energy efficiency rating star, SIRIM eco-label, or Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC).
After sales support and training
Prior to purchasing lab supplies, you may want to find out what training is provided by the vendor and how you can get the most out of their support team. It is common for suppliers to provide after sales service or support to make sure their products and services meet or surpass customer expectations. Some companies provide a dedicated helpline for customer service to help resolve problem or issues immediately in most of the cases. Also, you might opt for vendors offering onsite training or online training tools rather than just provide a thick file of instruction manuals. It is most likely to get a comprehensive training course if you’re making a large purchase or a new equipment.
Purchasing laboratory supplies can certainly become a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be if you know what you’re doing. Use the tips given in this article to ease the process and have your laboratory increase its productivity as soon as possible. Always look for suppliers who you can trust, it will make your life a lot easier both now, and anytime you need their assistance in the future.