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Managing maintenance service and qualification of an array of manufacturers' laboratory equipment presented an ongoing challenge for the scientific team at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG. Previously, a fragmented approach to instrument service required the co-ordination of many different OEM service providers, resulting in instrument downtime that was affecting laboratory productivity.

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                 doing more
                 With less
                 Many cost-cutting initiatives implemented by pharma R&D turn out to be
                 ineffective and occasionally risky. By consolidating laboratory maintenance,

                 however, drug developers can improve laboratory productivity.
                                aboratory equipment often represents             outcomes passed down by senior management. These
                                pharmaceutical      companies’       largest     usually fall into one of the following categories:
                                capital investment. Unsurprisingly, the          • Provide better control and reporting of maintenance
                                costs associated with maintaining these            expense and return on investment (ROI) for each
                                laboratory assets and ensuring that they are       laboratory asset.
                 performing to specification (critical for GxP laboratory        • Achieve cost savings targets.
                 environments) frequently consumes significant portions          • Improve laboratory productivity and efficiency.
                 of a laboratory’s operating budget. These costs represent       • Reduce compliance costs in areas subject to regulatory
                 a significant opportunity for savings and pharmaceutical          control.
                 companies are increasingly turning to new methods to            Once these have been agreed, another set of key
                 understand, control, and reduce equipment maintenance           questions must be asked to help build the specification
                 and regulatory compliance costs.                                of the solution required:
                                                                                 • How important is it to retain the original equipment
                 Defining Service Requirements                                     manufacturer (OEM) as service provider?
                 In laboratory environments with more than 100 instrument        • Do the benefits (lower cost, improved uptime) of using
                 systems, the cost of equipment maintenance can exceed             an alternative service provider outweigh the potential
                 $1 million a year. In light of these costs and in today’s         pitfalls (quality, scientist acceptance)?
                 climate, reducing and controlling maintenance expenditures      • Do the added benefits (service event management,
                 represents a clear opportunity. Significant improvements          reduced scientist time with noncore activities, asset and
                 in equipment uptime and scientist productivity can be             service provider performance reporting) of a centralized
                 realized through consolidating laboratory service activities      maintenance management centre outweigh the potential
                 with a single service provider. It is important to understand     pitfalls (change management, reduced contact between
                 the delicate balance between a pure cost-savings initiative       scientist and OEM)?
                 that could potentially adversely impact the science of drug     The answers to these questions will define the boundaries
                 discovery and a well-developed maintenance programme            of the consolidated maintenance programme and will vary
                 that achieves cost savings and supports other important         from company to company based on culture, history and
                 business goals.                               
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