By Nicholas Smith
It can be easy to dismiss outsourcing lab automation in favour of seemingly less expensive do-it-yourself (DIY) solutions. However, outsourcing is more cost effective than it might seem. By taking advantage of the expertise of Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) partners, who can also offer a variety of flexible financing options, outsourcing could well be the right solution for your business. Here are some of the main ways in which OEM partners can make your automation project more cost-effective.
Outsourcing your lab automation project to an experienced OEM partner can be a short-cut to success .
Cost of ownership lies with the OEM Partner
A major benefit of OEM partnership is that many risks and responsibilities are taken off your hands and put firmly into theirs. The pressure to deliver on time and on budget is not with you but with them. This means that your outlay is strictly limited from the beginning, so there are fewer surprise costs. Using an OEM partner also buffers your project from any internal competition for resource allocation. Nobody can take away your team halfway through the project; the OEM partner is contractually obliged to deliver, no matter what happens internally. How do OEM partners mitigate their risks? Because developing lab automation solutions is their area of expertise, which means that to stay in business they will likely have evolved highly efficient workflows and quality management systems. That being said, always do your homework before going into any partnership to make sure this is truly the case.
Reducing the time-to-market
OEM partners can also help to deliver your lab automation project faster, which automatically reduces costs. From day one, a good OEM partner will know all of the intricate steps involved in completing an automation project, and they are likely to have expert teams primed and ready to execute. As a result, lab automation projects can be completed faster, and are a lot less likely to encounter unexpected delays.
As an OEM partner, Tecan uses agile methodologies to minimize the total project time and make their projects run as cost-efficiently as possible. With this approach, prototypes are rapidly produced and improved over a series of work “sprints”. This has the added benefit that there is no agonizing wait until the end of the project to find out whether the solution works. Functional prototypes are produced early, so that each subsequent stage in the project improves and builds on what is already there.
Of course, a big reason for wanting to get to market as quickly as possible is that the project stops costing and starts making money. Imagine being able to put profits on your balance sheet instead of having resource allocation problems and budget headaches. OEM partners put their experience and expertise into making this a reality for you and your company.
Innovation in lab automation technology
It is the business of OEM partners to innovate. This means that when you partner with lab automation experts, you automatically get the benefit of all their advanced and potentially proprietary innovations. These are the kind of shortcuts you need to get your device to market faster and increase your competitive advantage. An example of this is the brand-new air pipetting technology developed by Tecan. This is a technology that took years to develop and refine, and that would have been impossible for most companies to develop in isolation.
Lab automation software
A common stumbling block for in-house lab automation projects is software development—a complex undertaking that is critical to the function and usability of the end product. Despite its importance, software is commonly overlooked or produced by teams that don’t have the necessary expertise. If workable software is ever produced, it is often bug-ridden and expensive to maintain. However, by working with an OEM partner, you can turn this headache into the jewel in your lab automation crown. Tecan software has a modular software design. This means that your engineers can choose from an assortment of ready-made modules to give your users the experience they expect and deserve.
There are many aspects to quality management that OEM partners handle on a daily basis. Your partners can ensure that your lab automation solution is not only fit for purpose but is also ready to pass rigorous safety assessments and regulatory hurdles. Doing this in-house is often more costly and time-consuming than expected, leading many businesses to seek outside help to handle the paperwork. With an OEM partner, this burden is automatically reduced.
Quality management doesn’t stop once the product is finished and shipped to you. OEM partners can also help with the lifecycle management of your lab automation solution. Having a good idea of how long the product will last and how to replace it can be a crucial factor in guaranteeing longevity in a competitive market. By working with an experienced OEM partner you can ensure that your lab automation is built for easy serviceability and will withstand the test of time in the field.
There are many ways in which outsourcing can be more cost-effective, and perhaps the most important factor is how you pay. OEM partners like Tecan can offer many different financing options, depending on your situation. This means that you are likely to find a financial model that will suit your balance sheet. With DIY solutions, financing is often limited by the fixed costs associated with internal development.
Partnering with OEM experts can help you produce a high-quality automation product that is ready to use and will be profitable much sooner than most DIY solutions. OEM partners use their extensive experience to take a holistic approach to projects and make sure that regulatory challenges are covered for your market. With a variety of financing options to help suit your balance sheet, now could be the perfect time to talk to one of our experts and find out if we have the right OEM solution for you.
Are you ready for your next lab automation project? Get a free copy of our self-assessment checklist here.
About the author
Nicholas Smith is Head of Global Marketing and Portfolio Management for Tecan’s Partnering Business. A key function of his team is to work closely with customers to develop new product concepts and proposals based on a thorough analysis of their specific requirements. Nicholas’ joined Tecan in 2012 from Roche Diagnostics where he worked for over 20 years in a variety of roles within marketing and business development.