Free Up Cash Flow for Other Lab Experiments

Despite our best efforts to control variables, working in a research and development laboratory in experimental science can be full of unexpected events that derail planning. You may have carefully plotted your protocol over several weeks and reserved your equipment. Every possible permutation may have been reviewed to determine the ideal methodology. Ideally, you are in great shape, but we understand many things can still go wrong.

Some of these aspects are out of your control to complete your experiment. Other factors that may not be, which can lead to delays and loss of time and money are:

  • expired or spoiled reagents
  • not enough supplies
  • out of stock materials.

Have you ever considered the real cost of not managing your lab inventory efficiently? How much is net working capital honestly tied up in your lab inventory? 

Today, nearly 85 percent of labs are using paper or Excel to manage consumables data, and 25 percent of the time is spent managing these data — taking scientists away from bench research. The larger picture is difficult to see with these methods.

Do you know how many reagents are spoiled each year due to improper storage, expiration, or lack of use? 

Many labs report disposing up to five percent of total stock, which is unused and expired. Over time, this can add up to an enormous amount of wasted resources.

Improperly storing reagents is a common mistake. These can lead to damaging the reagent and, unfortunately, failed experiments, which leads to increased costs and time. We understand the many tasks that are juggled, but researchers should pay closer attention to all aspects of chemicals to include in a given experiment. Assessing expiration dates before adding materials in an investigation is extremely important.

Have you thought about how much waste is consistently generated in your lab? 

Minimizing hazardous waste is the Environment Protection Agency’s (EPA) premiere method of choice to prevent pollution. Additionally, a reduction in volume, toxicity, and physical hazards of materials all play a vital role in minimizing waste and costs.

If efforts to reduce waste and consolidate inventory to optimize productivity and streamline various lab efficiencies have been discussed, then we have good news! Containing costs with principles of good laboratory and proper inventory control combined with lab waste and spoilage reduction can be achieved. Accidents, wasted resources and sometimes even damaged pride or stature can be prevented with appropriate planning and attention to detail.

Implementing an inventory management system

Implementing smart tools seems to be one area that often flies under the radar for inventory systems.  An inventory management system ensures that lab workers understand what resources are available to them, and where. In addition to the reduction in time and waste, automated software contributes to significant savings in many labs today:

  • Accurate inventory in real-time, including location, source, expiration dates, biological properties, SDS
  • Provides notification when stocks are running low
  • Quickly click on a button to reorder and track the order status
  • Reduces ordering too many supplies or ordering the wrong materials
  • Averts back-up plans to avoid disasters
  • Decreases unnecessary and duplicate ordering and disposal costs, liability and environmental impact, delays
  • Assists with forecasting
  • Reduces needless, excess and underused materials; freeing up storage space
  • Reduces hazardous environments and accidents by displaying category types, protective/precautionary measures, HCS pictograms, storage requirements
  • Enforces regulatory compliance adherence, thus avoiding fines
  • Maintains equipment with standard maintenance notifications and manufacturers’ recommended calibrations

BrightLab’s user-friendly inventory management software includes a barcode scanner and companion mobile app as additional benefits. These reduce time on repetitive and error-prone tasks. For your added convenience, instrument management and electronic lab notebooks are available to connect details about your lab materials to experimental results.

Reducing Duplication Further

BrightLab’s software systems also allow multiple labs to be connected. This connection simplifies compliance reporting in addition to sharing and monitoring materials, which reduces costs. In time, you may want to consider an option to centralize your lab management system operations.

Waste and Spoilage Reduction 

Now that we have seen the benefits of consolidating your inventory, there are a few more ways to save money. This includes improving the overall safety of your employees by minimizing waste and spoilage, which will result by integrating these suggestions:

  • Substitute Less Hazardous Materials in Experiments
    • Implement Procedural Changes:
    • Use older chemicals first, before they decompose.
    • Prepare only enough solution for immediate use.
    • Use microscale techniques or scaled-down procedures
    • Review disposal procedures before purchasing chemicals.
    • Avoid the use of heavy metals whenever possible.
    • Dispose of waste chemicals immediately after creation.
  • Execute Good Laboratory Project Management Practices
    • Reduce the number of testing samples.
    • Create (make or formulate) a master mix that can reduce the number of consumable materials used, such as pipette tips.
    • Trim plastic waste usage.
    • Consider purchasing recyclable materials with realized cost savings
    • Create a Best-Practice Guideline
    • Activate and realize the benefits of an inventory management system
  • Avoid Acceptance of Donations
    • Minimize the number of chemicals accepted in the form of a gift, donation, or as part of a research contract. This applies mainly to Academic institutions, associated nonprofit research facilities, and teaching hospitals.
    • Waste disposal costs can add up beyond the budget and possibly become a liability.
    • Better to buy your chemicals fresh for best results and the most extended shelf life.