Looking to replace outdated lab equipment or purchase cutting edge new technology? On the surface buying scientific equipment may seem easy, but finding the right equipment and making sure it gives you a good return on investment is actually quite challenging.
That is why before you actually open up your wallet, there are several important things that you should consider.
As a rule you should only ever buy scientific equipment that you really need – or you won’t get a good return on your investment. Think about how the equipment will actually benefit you – for example, is it essential to your experiments? Will it improve your efficiency?
Keep in mind that this doesn’t just apply to the equipment itself, but the features it brings to the table. If possible you should list out the features that you need and prioritize them so that you don’t end up paying for any that you don’t really need.
All this should be done before you start to shop around. It will make it a whole lot easier to find the right model of equipment.
Typically you can choose to buy scientific equipment directly from the manufacturer, from third-party vendors, or from other sources such as auction websites.
The advantage of buying directly from the manufacturer is that the equipment should be new, and will normally include a warranty or service contract. On the other hand third-party vendors may offer a larger range of choices, including used equipment that may be cheaper.
Some third-party vendors may provide their own warranty and service contract, but you will have to check.
Last but not least, you could consider other sources such as online auctions – but that route can be risky. It is the best way to find cheap deals, but most cases there won’t be any warranty or service contract.
When you’re buying any type of lab equipment, there’s normally always room for negotiation. Talk to the manufacturer or vendor and try to bring the price down.
It helps if you have several quotes that you can use when you negotiate. That way you can compare them and have vendors compete against one another so that you end up getting the best price.
It should be noted that you don’t always need to negotiate on the price alone. Instead you could ask vendors to sweeten the deal in other ways. For example, it may be worth asking them to extend the warranty or provide a longer service contract.
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Demonstrations are a great way for you to see the equipment in action firsthand and look at how it works. Think of it as a ‘test run’ that you can use to evaluate any scientific equipment before you actually buy it.
During the demonstration, you should pay close attention to how the equipment is used. Try to see how complicated it is, as well as if there are any quirks or issues with it. If possible, ask the vendor to let you give it a try for yourself.
Always remember that many types of scientific equipment use various consumables or require replaceable parts, which will result in a certain amount of associated costs. It is important that you find out exactly what these costs are, and factor them into your decision.
Be sure to not only look at the direct cost, but also how difficult it is to find the consumables or parts that you need. After that, compare the associated costs of the various models that you’re looking at and see if there’s a significant difference.
Often the associated costs may be the deciding factor when you’re trying to choose between similar models.
Many lab managers make the mistake of overlooking service contracts, or prioritizing the warranty instead. While a good warranty is important, in the long run service contracts are what will make a world of difference.
The importance of service contracts will come into play mostly after your warranty has expired. It can help you to ensure that your equipment stays well-maintained and that someone will come and fix it if and when it runs into any issues.
Of course having a service contract will add to the associated costs, which is why it is great if it is provided for free for a certain period after the warranty is over.
While your equipment is under warranty you may feel protected – but how protected are you, really? The conditions of warranties can vary greatly from one manufacturer or vendor to the next, and you need to know exactly what it encompasses.
Aside from the duration of the warranty, you should look at what could void it, how it can be claimed, and the expected time it will take for a replacement to be sent to you.
Everything listed above can play an important role to help you choose the right scientific equipments to buy. Not only will it make the entire process easier, but it will ensure that you cover all your bases.
Make no mistake purchasing scientific equipment is not a decision that you want to rush into. Instead, you should carefully look at your options from all angles to be sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
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