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9 Reasons to Outsource Your Lab Surplus Asset Management and Save Millions!

By Victoria Jackson, CEO, Atlantic Lab Equipment Inc.

At Atlantic Lab Equipment, we’re well into our second decade of providing our customers significant savings by buying and selling used lab equipment. What you may not know about ALE is that we have a well-developed surplus asset management program for larger labs and companies with a large inventory of lab equipment. Large companies may frequently purchase new equipment when the exact same model goes unused in a lab down the hall or in another building. This leads to millions of dollars in wasted budget and inefficiently used lab space annually.

1. “Obstacles are opportunities”

This statement guides the philosophy of the Hyde School in Bath, Maine, where our family sent students for years. Obstacles often look impossible at first. For example, you have a Beckman Biomek FX integrated system sprawled across your lab. You aren’t using it anymore and it’s taking up space you need for your new refurbished Tecan Freedom EVO. A problem hides an opportunity. With some coordination that FX system can be removed and save you serious bucks. Redeploy it elsewhere in the company where it’s needed or sell it and boost your budget.

2. A penny saved is a penny earned.

Efficient management of extra equipment can save you a lot of money. Your unused centrifuge may be the exact machine that the researcher upstairs needs. Re-purposing instruments can help avoid expensive capital equipment purchases. This approach offers enormous savings over buying new. And it’s a great alternative to delaying or abandoning projects because of tight lab budgets. One large pharmaceutical client of ours has saved millions of dollars in a few years with ALE’s surplus redeployment program.

3. A picture is worth a thousand words

… and potentially thousands of dollars. A private marketplace with pictures of available equipment is essential. Think of it as an eBay for your company. Atlantic Lab Equipment can help with this.

4. It ain’t easy.

Let someone else do the hard part. “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it,” my dad preaches. Managing lots of lab equipment requires time and space; something most labs lack. You need to:

  • catalog information about the instruments
  • collect and move the equipment
  • store the instruments
  • prepare the equipment for redeployment

This requires experienced people to pack, move, test, and service the equipment before re-use. This is what hinders a lot of labs from maximizing their return on idle assets. Atlantic Lab Equipment does this well.

5. Play to your strengths.

A partnership between your company and a nimble, knowledgeable surplus asset manager is powerful. ALE applies our 16+ years of knowledge and experience in the used equipment market. We manage and recondition our client’s equipment to help maximize their financial potential. Our team focuses on the flow of equipment, so your scientists and lab management can focus on the research.

6. The surplus asset management program can pay for itself.

Redeployment, sale, and scrap of unused equipment can generate positive cash flow back to our clients. If the internal marketplace listing expires before a researcher requests the instrument, ALE will buy the instrument or sell it on consignment. The redeployed assets create a stream of savings, while decommissioned assets create a revenue stream.

7. ALE can customize the surplus asset management program for your company.

ALE can help set up a surplus asset management program at your company that fits your needs. We can provide separate modules or the entire program, doing as much or as little as you would like.

  • ALE Marketplace tracking and management
  • Pick-up / Delivery
  • Moving
  • Storage
  • Redeployment services (testing, repair, installation)

We’d like to share the knowledge we’ve gained in our 16+ years of buying and selling used lab equipment to help you maximize your lab assets.

8. The secret to surplus asset management success is servicing the instruments.

Researchers feel more comfortable reusing equipment if they can be certain it works. Nobody wants a hunk of junk – even for “free”. This requires technicians to test and then fix instruments when needed. ALE has earned a reputation for providing high-quality refurbished instruments to our customers. We remove this risk by incorporating testing and service as part of the asset management workflow, and it makes all the difference.

9. Time is money.

My dad said this ALL the time! Do what you do best and let ALE manage your surplus assets.

Contact us today to learn more about ALE’s surplus asset management program and how we can help you save.

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HPLC System Care and Troubleshooting Like a Boss

HPLC system care and troubleshooting is an important activity in any analytical chemistry lab. Liquid chromatography systems have become real workhorses for laboratory chemical analysis, but scientists have developed a love-hate relationship with these systems. The wide range of applications delights users, while varied complexity, robustness, and performance frustrate them. Unlike other laboratory tools, these systems are not a “plug and play” solution. There are several brands and models, but the basic operation is similar across the board. Lab technicians need some training and experience to get LC systems to perform well. This article will cover the basics of maintaining and troubleshooting your HPLC system.

HPLC Components

All liquid chromatography systems have the same four basic components – Injectors, Pumps, Columns, and Detectors. There can be other components added before, after, or inline with these items. For example:
  • Autosampler (before) – automatically feed multiple samples unattended
  • Fraction Collector (after) – collect portions of the eluent as it comes off of the column
  • Additional Detector (inline) – analyze the sample with different technologies
  • Sample Preparation Automation (before) – perform complex sample prep assays prior to HPLC separation
  • Mass Spectrometer (after) – essentially another detector, but there’s enough here to cover in a separate article
HPLC System (based on Agilent 1200 series) by Yassine Mrabet (CC 3.0)

Pumps

Most pump-related issues are due to a failure to prime the system properly. Upon startup, users should always prime the pump and verify that the flow is constant on all channels. Pump-priming issues can be detrimental to chromatography results in several ways, including no flow, erratic flow, mixing problems, incorrect gradients, bubble formation, and more.
Pump Types:
  • Isocratic Pump – This is the simplest pump type. It uses a single pump to deliver a single solvent for the mobile phase.
  • Binary Pump – This pump uses two pumps and can mix up to two different solvents in varying proportions over the course of a run for gradient mobile phases.
  • Quaternary Pump – This pump uses a single pump, but has a special proportioning valve to mix up to four different solvents for complex mobile phase gradients.
Typical Binary Pump (Agilent 1200 Series)
Typical Quaternary Pump (Agilent 1100 Series)

What’s Wrong with my HPLC?!?!? … Troubleshooting the Chromatogram

No Signal

  • Injector Failure – Sample is not introduced to the flow path. Check injector. Clean if it’s clogged. Repair if malfunctioning. If you’re using an autosampler, check to see if it’s aspirating sample successfully – bypass the autosampler and manually inject sample to see if it’s the problem.
  • Pump Failure – Mobile phase not flowing. Check/repair pump.
  • Detector Failure – Check/adjust detector settings (gain, sensitivity). Check/replace the lamp.
  • Column Issues – Sample is binding to the column and not eluting – change separation column and/or guard column type.
  • Solvent Issues – Sample is incompatible with mobile phase, or mobile phase is not compatible with column – change mobile phase solvent.

Drift

  • Solvent Issues (evaporation/concentration changing, atmospheric gas absorption/pH changing, leaks) – De-gas and sparge solvent with an inert gas. Seal solvent containers. Check for and repair leaks (tubing, fittings).
  • Gradient Issues (one solvent absorbs/retains more of the sample than other) – Change one or both mobile phase solvents. Employ baseline subtraction.
  • Contaminated Column – Flush column with solvent. Change column type to avoid build up and slow release.
  • Pressure Issues – Filter mobile phase and samples. Reduce sample or solvent viscosity. Use larger tubing.
  • Temperature Issues – Look for changing temperature over the run. Control temperature in the detector flow cell.

Cyclic Variations

  • Temperature Issues – Stabilize environmental control. Check for effects from the HVAC system or other nearby equipment that throws off heat or cooling. Control temperature in the detector flow cell.
  • Bubbles / Mixing Issues (in the pump) – Flush and prime pump. De-gas mobile phase. Increase system volume.
  • Clogs (partial) – Remove clog. Replace tubing. Flush with solvent.
  • Pump Issues – Repair or replace the pump.
  • Electrical Noise – Look for and remove sources of interference with a cyclical pattern. Change circuit. Install line conditioner.

Baseline Noise

  • Bubbles (in the mobile phase, column, or detector) – Check for and repair leaks (tubing, fittings). De-gas mobile phase. Flush or backpressure detector cell or column to removed trapped bubbles.
  • Contaminated Column – Flush column with solvent. Change the column.
  • Electrical Noise – Check connections. Look for and remove sources of interference. Clean contacts. Shield cables. Change circuit. Install line conditioner.
  • Detector Issues – Flush detector cell using manufacturer’s cleaning protocol. Adjust sensitivity/gain. Replace the lamp.

Spikes

  • Bubbles – Check for and repair leaks (tubing, fittings). De-gas mobile phase.
  • Electrical Wiring Issues – Check wiring, leads, and connectors. Repair or replace broken wiring or connectors. Clean connectors and leads.
  • Electrical Noise – Check connections. Look for and remove sources of interference with a sharp, intermittent pattern (valves, compressors, lighting). Clean contacts. Shield cables. Change the power circuit. Install line conditioner.
  • Detector Issues – Check and replace the lamp.

Synchronous Noise

  • Bubbles / Mixing Issues (in the pump) – Flush and prime pump. De-gas mobile phase. Increase system volume.
  • Pump Issues – Repair or replace the check valve. Repair or replace the pump plunger or seals. Check for and repair leaks.
  • Electrical Noise – Look for and remove sources of interference with a cyclical pattern. Change circuit. Install line conditioner.

Asynchronous Noise

  • Bubbles / Mixing Issues – Check for and repair leaks (tubing, fittings). De-gas mobile phase. Flush or backpressure detector cell or column to removed trapped bubbles. Increase system volume.
  • Clogs (partial) – Remove clog. Replace tubing. Flush with solvent.
  • Electrical Noise – Check connections. Look for and remove sources of interference with an intermittent pattern. Clean contacts. Shield cables. Change circuit. Install line conditioner.

Positive and Negative Peaks or Only Negative Peaks

  • No Issues – Negative peaks may be normal if you’re using a refractive index detector – no changes.
  • Solvent Issues – Filter solvent. Change to different solvent.
  • Bubbles – De-gas mobile phase.
  • Only Negative Peaks – Change detector polarity.

Injectors

Injectors transfer your sample from the source vial or plate into the LC system flow path. Once introduced, the sample flows through the column to the detector(s) and out to the waste. Once again, improper priming can be the main cause of issues relating to the injector. Any air present in the system can affect the injection volume and cleanliness. Priming the system properly removes air bubbles from the sample and wash syringes. This will improve the system reproducibility and reduce sample carryover.

Columns

Maintaining your separation column is critical for your LC system. This is the heart of the system. This component enables the separation of constituents in your sample. Problems with your column will translate directly to your results. Refer to your column’s documentation for appropriate wash and storage solvents to use. Always flush the column after runs with a compatible organic solvent.
Failure to clean your column will impact column life and performance. This is especially important if you plan to store the column for an extended period. Replace your column if the packing material has become contaminated or ineffective. Run a test standard through the system regularly to track changing column performance.

Detectors

There are many detector types and models available for LC systems. But, detector maintenance is a simple procedure that’s common across types. You need to know the back pressure your detector flow cell generates at a known flow rate for a solvent. This will create a baseline for you when troubleshooting the system. You can use this value to gauge system readiness.
To do this:
  1. Record the pressure while flushing solvent through the detector (D).
  2. Remove the inlet line to the detector and record the pressure again while flushing (C).
  3. Subtract C from D.
This is important because the most common issue with detectors is a clogged flow cell. If the flow cell is partially plugged, the pressure will be much greater at the detector inlet. The flow cell can rupture if completely plugged, resulting in an expensive repair. To maintain the flow cell, always flush with a clean solvent that is at least 20% organic. This will help maintain the flow cell and keep it clean and free of blockages.

Fittings & Tubing

Improper connection of tubing in fittings can also have an impact on results. A common error is to leave a void at the end of the tubing inside of the fitting. It’s important to seat the tubing flush to the end of the fitting.
LC tubing size can have a tremendous impact on chromatographic results. When replacing tubing, make sure to use the correct sizes. If the tubing internal diameter (ID) is too big it will cause peak shape issues. Peaks will become wider (and shorter with larger tubing). If the tubing is too long or too narrow, it will generate higher pressures and can also cause peak issues.

Mobile Phase (The Lifeblood of the System)

The mobile phase is the solvent that carries your sample through the HPLC system. This can be water, an aqueous buffer solution, or an organic solvent or mixture. You can use an isocratic mobile phase – a single solvent at a constant concentration. Or you can use a gradient mobile phase – two or more solvents at changing ratios over time. The majority of HPLC issues originate from mobile phase problems.
To fix these issues, follow these suggestions:
  • Start with fresh HPLC grade solvents. If using water, get it from an HPLC-grade purification system.
  • Filter the mobile phase using a 0.2-micron filter.
  • De-gas the solvents well before use.
  • Never add more solvent to open bottles; replace them when empty.
  • Bacteria can grow in pure water; be careful to use fresh, filtered water.
  • Use a 10-20% organic solvent/water mixture to inhibit bacteria growth for storage.

Maintaining Your Equipment – Shameless Plugs

Of all of the types of lab equipment, HPLC systems tend to be the most DIY-friendly for maintenance – and their owners tend to be pretty skilled as well. It comes with the territory. Not every problem is easy to solve and regular preventative maintenance service is important for continued performance. Atlantic Lab Equipment would be happy to work with you to help with your yearly PM services. Also, if you have equipment that’s no longer used, we’ll buy your surplus lab equipment. Of course, if you’re looking to expand, or get a backup 0f your favorite system, we provide high-quality refurbished equipment.
Please feel free to check out what we have to offer:
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How to Earn the Most Value Selling Your Surplus Lab Equipment

Selling your surplus lab equipment can be a great way to clear up space and return some funds to your lab budget. Our last article was about buying refurbished lab equipment, but we did touch upon selling unused equipment as well. Today we’ll expand on that topic and provide you with some tools to get the most out of selling your instruments to a lab equipment reseller.

Where to Sell Your Lab Equipment

There are several different ways to sell your surplus lab instruments. First, you need to decide if you’re going to take the DIY route or work with a reseller. The trade-off is between time, effort, risk, and money. There is a possibility to earn more for your used lab instruments if you sell them yourself. But this can be time-consuming and might be risky for you and/or your company. And, it may take a long time to sell the system and make your money (for your lab, of course). Working with a reseller is easier since they will do all the work, and pay you right away.

Partnering with a Professional Lab Equipment Reseller

Option #1 – Consignment Sale (We Sell Your Stuff)

If you have some time on your hands, then a consignment sale could be a good option for you. A consignment sale might yield the best price if you’re willing to wait for the right buyer to come along. In this scenario, the reseller doesn’t take ownership of your system but works to sell the system on your behalf.

Once the reseller sells and delivers your lab equipment, you will receive your share of the sale. In a consignment sale, the equipment owner and reseller split the profit. Any direct costs (such as testing and refurbishment) are deducted from the selling price before calculating the split. It’s hard to predict how long it will take to sell your lab instrument. Age, desirability, and price will factor into this timing. The advantage can be that you may earn a bigger return by taking advantage of the reseller’s relationships, marketing capabilities, and service abilities (if you elect to refurbish your instrument to get even more value out of it).

Option #2 – Direct Sale (We Buy Your Stuff, Then Sell It)

The direct sale is the simplest option and one of the quickest to get paid. The reseller will provide you with a quote for your lab equipment. If you accept the offer, they will pay you and take the equipment away. Transaction complete. You have your funds and some new open lab space. It’s now up to the reseller to market, test, and refurbish your system to sell it.

The biggest trade-off is that the reseller may make you an offer for only what they think can sell. There may be certain pieces of equipment that they may not want. Some items may be too old or broken and not worth fixing, for example. Although, if you are trying to get rid of a lot of lab equipment, you could negotiate a price for the reseller to take it all away and have them sort it out later. The advantages of this approach are convenience and accomplishment. The reseller will take care of almost everything for you (except decontamination), and pay you upon taking ownership of the equipment.

Option #3 – Auction (We Sell Your Stuff One Day, Along With a Bunch of Other Stuff)

The auction is another way to sell your lab equipment. Since you’ll know the date of the auction, the timeframe for payment is well defined. The auction might be a good way to quickly sell a lot of equipment or a mixture of equipment. For example, for a lab that will close or move because of a company restructuring or acquisition.

The trade-off for this quick timeline and bulk approach comes in the form of lower prices. Most equipment in an auction is sold as-is. Since the buyer is bearing more of the risk, they like to offset this by getting a lower price. Although, this isn’t always the case. Some popular pieces of equipment can fetch premium prices at auction, especially if a bidding war erupts.

Once the auction completes, you’ll receive a share of the auction price. The auction house receives the remaining share plus a buyer’s fee and handling fees. The buyer’s fee is around 15-20% of auction price and is paid by the buyer on top of the auction price. Buyers factor in this fee when they bid to ensure that they don’t pay more than they want for an item. The advantages of the auction are that there’s a deadline for the sale, you can sell a large mix of equipment at once, and you know when you’ll be paid. But, in order to sell the items quickly, you’ll end up leaving the price to the bidders.

Handling It on Your Own

DIY Option – Sell It Online (Not As Simple As It Sounds)

eBay and LabX are two well-known sites for selling equipment. It’s easy to set up an account to list your system … and then you’re ready to sell. However, unless your company already has an active eBay account, you’ll be starting from scratch. Your eBay seller rating and history are an important factor for many buyers. If you’re going to open a new account to sell those few pieces of equipment, you won’t have any track record.

You’ll also need to plan on devoting some time to monitoring and replying. eBay buyers expect prompt service, or you’ll take a hit in your seller ratings. Be prepared to check your listings and answer questions at least a couple of times per day. The biggest hurdle will be payment processing. PayPal is the most used method for accepting payments on eBay. If your company has a PayPal account that can be used, then great. If not, then you probably want to think twice about using a personal account. Scams are common on eBay and the tax implications are unclear. You could leave yourself exposed to liability. With LabX, the customer would pay the company directly with a check or wire transfer.

With the DIY option, it’s up to you to handle all the “customer support” for your potential buyers. This includes answering questions promptly, pricing, handling payment, and packing and shipping. If anything goes wrong in this process, then you’re the one who must address it.

What will you do if something is damaged in shipping? How do you address a claim from the buyer that the instrument doesn’t work? (I know it was working before we packed it up). The responsibility will fall on you. You might have to pay for on-site service. With no service contract or warranty, parts, labor, and travel expenses can add up. Or, you might have to take the instrument back and refund the buyer. Now you’ll have to pay the actual cost of shipping the system both ways with no payment to offset those costs. And, shipping large lab instruments can be very expensive. The advantage of the DIY approach is that you get to keep (almost) the full amount of the sale. Although, eBay and PayPal will take their share.

How to Prepare for Selling Your Surplus Lab Equipment

Once you’ve chosen a sales channel and a lab equipment reseller, you need to get your surplus lab equipment ready for sale. The reseller will arrange to pick up your equipment and ship it back to their warehouse or service center. It’s important to make these preparations to for two reasons:

  1. To maximize the value of your system and
  2. To minimize delays for the reseller to offer the system for sale (and pay you)

There are three basic steps to preparing your equipment for sale:

  1. Collecting
  2. Cleaning & Decontamination
  3. Documenting

To help, we’ve provided a handy Seller’s Checklist form that outlines all of the things you need to think about when preparing your lab equipment for the reseller or buyer.

Collecting

Collect all the pieces of the system that go together. This is simple if your instrument is a single unit, like a plate washer. But, something like an LC/MS system may have many components. And, if one is missing it could render the system useless. This is not the time to raid the system for “all the good stuff.” It’s tempting to want to pick over a system that has one foot out the door. But, the reseller may no longer want what’s left because it will be too costly or difficult to replace the missing items, and buyers wouldn’t be interested without them.

Make sure all the cables and connectors are present (and labeled). Some systems use proprietary cables that are difficult or expensive to get if missing. Look out for dongles (also known as hard locks, or hardware license keys) in particular. These small devices plug-in to a USB port and enable access to the software. If a system requires a dongle and it’s missing, progress will come to a complete stop with your sale. Two-gallon Ziploc® Freezer Bags are a great way to collect and organize cables, dongles, and small accessories to keep them with the system.

If your system uses an external control computer, it should go with the system. Don’t forget the keyboard, mouse, and display. Some instruments are picky about the computer that controls them. You might think it would great to pop a fast, new computer on that old instrument. But, you could easily run into communications problems. The computer might actually be “too fast” or the system software may not be compatible with the new operating system. It’s much better to supply the original, matched equipment.

Cleaning & Decontamination

It’s a good idea to give your system a general dusting and wipe down. But, if it’s been in contact with infectious, toxic/carcinogenic, or radioactive contaminants, then it will also need decontamination. Typically, a 10% bleach solution is for biological, an appropriate solvent for chemical, and something like Radiacwash™ for radioactive decontamination. Multiple methods willYou should consult your health and safety procedures for this, though. It’s the owner’s responsibility to decontaminate the system before the reseller touches it. The owner must also provide a certificate of decontamination to the reseller. Decontamination is important to protect the safety of both company’s employees. We provide a Certificate of Decontamination form that you can use.

“Cleaning” also applies to your data. Make sure to remove any proprietary or protected data from the system. It’s tempting to “wipe” the computer clean, but a blank computer would prevent the reseller from running the system to test it or refurbish it. Selective deletion/cleanup according to the manufacturer’s instructions is the preferred method. Make a note of the admin usernames and passwords needed to access the control computer and system software. If personal accounts were used on the system, then before shutting the system down, create new generic admin and user accounts. This will allow the reseller to operate and access the system without using employee’s personal logins.

Documenting

The more information that a reseller can have about the lab equipment you’re selling, the better. Understanding what you are selling, it’s true condition, and history will help the reseller to give you an accurate appraisal. It’s never fun to discover undisclosed information about a system once it’s at the resellers. That could reduce its value. List the manufacturer, model, and serial number of each component. Also list everything that’s going with the instrument, like accessories, parts, or consumables. Provide the software licenses and keys. This is critical. Most modern lab equipment runs on sophisticated software. Without the ability to reload and configure the software, the system may have little value. Providing the original invoice or packing slip and/or the service history of the system is also helpful.

Shameless Plugs

Let Atlantic Lab Equipment Help You With Your Surplus Equipment

As a full-service reseller, Atlantic Lab Equipment would love to talk with you about your idle lab instruments. After 16 years, we are experts at evaluating your surplus equipment to maximize the return on your investment. Often we find that a combination of channels may be the best solution and we can help you decide the best approach based on your specific needs. We can put your most valuable assets on consignment, buy a bunch of other ones direct, and help arrange an auction for you too. In addition, if you elect to swap your equipment for something we have, extra discounts are available. Or, perhaps, you should repurpose some of your assets internally – we can help you with that too. Please call us at 866-484-6031 today to get started or use the Request a Quote form on our website. Our full-time job is helping labs save money with refurbished lab instruments and we are here for you.

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6 Myths About Buying Refurbished Lab Equipment

Buying used or refurbished lab equipment is a great way to save money on advanced laboratory instrumentation. Savings of 40% to 60% are common compared to purchasing the same equipment new. Some people may be tentative about buying pre-owned equipment, afraid that they will get a lemon. So, we want to address some of the most common misunderstandings. Let’s take a look.
 

Myth #1: Refurbished Lab Equipment and Used Lab Equipment Is All the Same Old Stuff

Many people use the terms “used” and “refurbished” interchangeably. “Used”, “pre-owned”, “as-is”, and “secondhand” mean someone else owned the equipment before you. It says nothing about the condition of the equipment. “Refurbished” or “reconditioned” lab equipment is also “used” lab equipment. But, it’s used lab equipment that is serviced and tested to meet the manufacturer’s standards. The seller may also offer a warranty or service contract for the equipment.
 
Understanding the difference between “used” and “refurbished” scientific instruments is important. There are many sellers that sell used equipment. But, there are fewer that invest in the expertise to test, diagnose, and repair sophisticated scientific instrumentation. You may pay a little more for a refurbished lab instrument, but your risk will be much lower.
 
This doesn’t mean that refurbished equipment is good and used equipment is bad. Be aware of what you’re buying and make sure that you understand the risks. Even refurbished equipment resellers sell some equipment as “used” or “as-is.” Depending on the type of equipment, selling it as used might be very appropriate. Good examples are small equipment like vortexers and water baths. For these types of items, you’ll want to use a reseller that has a good return policy.
 

Myth #2: Refurbished Lab Equipment Is Not as Good as New Lab Equipment

Lab instrument manufacturers have been making great, reliable equipment for decades. Most equipment has a very long service life, even at high duty cycles. For most applications, even previous instrument versions will meet the lab’s needs, perform well, and last for years. New equipment may offer some advantages, though. Your application might need a particular feature that only the new technology offers. Or, if you’re pushing into new areas of research, then only the newest generation may have the detection limits or capacity that you need. A manufacturer’s new system might only differ minimally from the previous generation.
 

Myth #3: Service and Support Are Not Available for Refurbished Lab Equipment

This is an important consideration when buying refurbished equipment. You should plan on maintaining your valuable equipment to keep it performing well. Today, labs have many options for servicing their lab equipment. You should consider both regular maintenance and emergency repairs. If you’re working with a reputable, full-service reseller they might offer service for the instruments they sell. Another option is a third-party service company. These are larger firms that compete with equipment manufacturers for service business. They support many types of equipment from different manufacturers and have established themselves as great alternatives. There are also smaller “boutique” service providers and individuals who have struck out on their own.

 
One of the biggest misconceptions is that manufacturers will not support refurbished instruments. While in some rare cases this is true, manufacturers do understand that once you have one of their instruments, you’re their customer too. They know that if you’re a happy user of their platform, the likelihood of you buying from them in the future is high. For this reason, you can generally get service and support from manufacturers. However, you should do your due diligence in this area. If you’d like support from the manufacturer, it’s best to contact them and make arrangements ahead of time. This will avoid nasty surprises after purchasing the equipment. Keep in mind that there may be some added expenses from the manufacturer. You may need to pay recertification, reinstallation, and/or software license fees.
 

Myth #4: You Never Know What You’re Getting with Refurbished Lab Equipment. People Only Sell Their Defective Junk Equipment

Dealing with broken lab equipment doesn’t make a lot of sense. We’re not that interested in investing a lot of expensive time and parts to resurrect a junker. Reputable refurbished equipment sellers want to buy and sell the best quality equipment. We love it when instruments, even when heavily used, were well maintained and under service contracts. This is reflected in the value we assign and the amount that we pay you. There are many reasons why a lab chooses to sell equipment, and “broken” makes up a very small part. Here are a few:
  • The instrument has reached the end of its “financial life” and finance wants it off the books
  • The objectives of the department or project have changed. That type of lab equipment is no longer needed
  • A newer version of the lab instrument was purchased and the old one is no longer used
  • The lab equipment was the “pet project” of an employee that moved on. Remaining colleagues don’t have the interest or expertise to continue its use
  • The company outsourced the service provided by that instrument
  • The company restructured the lab due to acquisition or downsizing
  • The lab moved
  • The company liquidated the lab’s assets
 

Myth #5: Refurbished Equipment Is Only for Startups and Academic Labs

Small companies and grant-funded labs may seem like they are perpetually budget constrained. Of course, saving with refurbished lab equipment is a great way to make room in your budget. Being part of a large company doesn’t mean a lab has an unlimited budget. Like the saying, “all politics are local politics”, it also feels like “all budgets are department budgets.” If you have finite funds to accomplish your lab’s goals, then selectively buying refurbished lab equipment can help stretch that budget further and allow you to do more.
 
If you’re purchasing several new pieces, look at your needs on an instrument by instrument basis. Buying one or more refurbished instruments might allow you to spend more in another area. Or, you may save enough to buy an important instrument sooner, rather than waiting for the next budget cycle.
 

Myth #6: Refurbished Equipment Sellers Can’t Help Me If I’m Buying New Equipment

There are a couple of ways that refurbished lab equipment sellers can help when you are buying something new. Are you trading up and buying the next generation of an instrument you already have in the lab? If you aren’t going to keep the old instrument, then a refurbished equipment seller may be able to give you a better “trade-in” deal than the manufacturer. Equipment manufacturers don’t like trade-ins. Sometimes they are necessary but tend to offer low or token discounts. Selling the old instrument to a seller may return more to you than the manufacturer’s trade-in discount. This is especially true when the new lab instrument is from a different company. Manufacturers don’t like trade-ins, but they REALLY don’t like trade-ins of their competitor’s instruments. This is a perfect opportunity to sell the equipment to a seller. In fact, this is a great time to look around the lab and see what else you may not be using and sell that too. This is a nice way to extend your budget and do a little lab cleaning as well.
 

Factors to Consider in Finding the Right Refurbished Lab Equipment Seller

Longevity How long have they been in business? What do your colleagues know about them?
 
Expertise – Does the seller have a specialization in the type of equipment that you are purchasing? Do they have the staff with domain knowledge to support that equipment?
 
Services offered – Do they only buy and sell equipment? Do they test and recondition equipment themselves or use partners? Do they offer other more advanced services, like application development or asset management?
 
Policies – Do they offer warranties and service contracts? What’s their return policy for used / as-is equipment?
 
Ask a lot of questions – you want to find a seller that has great customer service. They shouldn’t be afraid to address any topic with you. It should be clear what the seller will provide, and you should understand what you need to arrange for.

Shameless Plugs

It’s no coincidence that this is our business. Of course, Atlantic Lab Equipment would be happy to work with you to buy your surplus lab equipment or provide refurbished equipment. Please feel free to check out what we have to offer: