Editorial Article: Strategic lab downsizing: Secrets to success

In this case study, discover how data-driven analytics helped the UK Environmental Agency seamlessly reduce its lab size and increase efficiency

06 Aug 2021



Improve your lab's efficiency and reap the benefits of downsizing your lab             Dmitrii Shironosov © 123rf.com

In this SelectScience article, we look at a challenging government mandate requiring the UK’s Environmental Agency (EA) to reduce its carbon footprint by downsizing from three to two facilities and explore how data analytics provided significant value in the relocation and restructuring of its facilities, which ultimately resulted not just in benefits to the environment but also improved workflow efficiencies.

The EA is a non-departmental public body that was established in 1996. Its stated objective is to create a better place for people and wildlife, while supporting sustainable development, and protecting and enhancing the environment in England. Recently, the EA was tasked with a difficult assignment of downsizing from three labs to two—this was achieved by enlisting some expert project management skills and data-driven strategies. 

Challenges and opportunities 

Relocation can be challenging, but downsizing presents labs with a range of unique opportunities, enabling them to assess their entire instrument base and evaluate what equipment is essential for the lab to run efficiently. After years of trusted responsive care by Agilent to the EA’s equipment, the agency sought support from Agilent’s CrossLab Enterprise Services to help with its relocation, spurred on by incentives such as financial flexibility and the liquidation of unwanted or outdated instruments. 

What benefits can relocation bring?

 

  • Implement digital lab analytics
  • Financial flexibility
  • Reduce carbon footprint
  • Cut costs
  • Create more lab efficiency

The EA made use of a variety of financial possibilities such as selling instruments the agency no longer needed back to Agilent. Consequently, the EA was able to reduce the overall cost of the relocation as well as the running costs of its new lab. 

As part of the process, Agilent utilized instrumentation metrics to assess the EA laboratory’s assets and provided risk scores for each piece of apparatus. This data-centric method combined with repair statistics and end-of-guaranteed-support data enabled Agilent to devise risk scorecards as a means of portraying asset value. These scorecards then provided Agilent and the EA with a simple way of making informed decisions to determine which assets should be retained. Equipment with high-risk scores and low operational value was sold, and the subsequent income was used to finance higher priority items.

In addition, Agilent used these data analytics to identify areas where the EA could improve its instrumentation or workflows. As an example, Agilent suggested the EA use more LC-MS systems, providing another means of transferring value from one instrument to another of more use. 

The power of laboratory intelligence

This combination of data analytics and risk scorecards provided significant value to the entire process and became a key element in guiding the relocation to a successful conclusion.

Benefits of analytics

 

Agilent’s data-driven method can be applied to ongoing CapEx procurement processes and add significant gains to your lab, whether it be to increase throughput, reduce costs, or improve the lab’s environmental footprint

To reduce downtime and minimize the worries of the EA’s management team, these ‘laboratory intelligence’ tools, underpinned by Agilent’s data-driven methodology, also helped to maintain a maximum level of operational constancy, keeping downtime to a minimum.

What the EA said:
When asked about how Agilent supported the transition, the EA’s Andy Fegan responded that Agilent did so by “augmenting existing capabilities with knowledge about the asset base for existing and replacement systems…” Furthermore, Fegan said that the net effect was to “…increase their capacity as a valuable revenue stream for the agency whilst under cost restrictions by the UK government.”

Is downsizing right for you? 

Downsizing may not be for everyone, but there are some key takeaway points from this case study that you may wish to consider, such as taking advantage of useful data analytics. Data analytics may seem obvious, but it could be the first, and one of the most important steps in making the right decision for your lab. These analytics can provide an excellent insight into where your lab may need restructuring, which can lead to improved efficiency of workflows, reduction in carbon footprint, and in the EA’s case, a capital cost reduction for new equipment. 

Additional resources

For more on lab relocation, find out how Alnylam Pharmaceuticals made the move from nine cramped labs to a spacious new research facility >>