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3 Ways to Protect Your Mass-Spectrometry Supply Budget

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It would be wonderful to have a secure budget for your lab equipment and supplies. As a laboratory manager, your reality is that budgets often get reduced for many reasons. Keeping a lab operating smoothly isn't anything like what might be seen on TV shows like "NCIS" or "CSI." In TV-land, they can run numerous mass-spectrometry tests quickly to solve just about any crime. The cost to operate sensitive, valuable equipment doesn't matter to scriptwriters or actors. But in the real world, you have to keep a tight rein on the consumption of mass-spec supplies and maintenance. Sometimes you even have to put tests on hold or suggest alternatives in order to stay within budget. In order to devote more time to the lab work you love—and less time hassling with budget problems—take proactive steps to ensure that sufficient funds remain available throughout the year.

Customize Your Annual Budget Presentation

Be creative in your presentation but precise with your numbers when you submit your annual budget requirements. Your goal is to show the administration how much it will cost for mass-spectrometry supplies and all the other operating expenses if your lab continues providing the current level of output. Then go the extra mile by showing the expenses necessary for increased production if new kinds of testing protocols are added to your lab's list of responsibilities. In addition, show the numbers for operation if you produce fewer results annually. With these numbers on record, you'll be able to defend against budget cuts by showing the correlation between what your lab can provide and the related expenses.

Develop a Strong Relationship with the Procurement Department

The purchasing agent who places orders for your laboratory is unlikely to know how the filaments, sensors, probes, and compounds you requisition for mass spectrometry are used. Change that situation by offering a fun, engaging tour of the lab for those who handle purchasing and shipment schedules. Show them how critical it is to have custom-certified reference material instead of an alternative that might carry a lower cost. Give them a demonstration of how your lab uses the items they order. It doesn't hurt to provide tasty snacks at the end of the tour during a Q&A session. Continue nurturing the relationship by introducing those who handle purchases and shipments to sales representatives for the items you need most often. This can result in obtaining reduced pricing for bulk orders, favorable shipping terms, and savings that can protect your overall budget.

Make the Most of Training Seminars and Trade Shows

You and your colleagues in the laboratory need to keep your skills fresh and stay on top of the latest innovations in mass-spectrometry analysis. You'll gain the necessary information by participating in classes, seminars, and workshops. These events are sponsored by equipment and supply manufacturers who can help you find the most effective ways to use the items required for testing at competitive prices. You'll also be able to find new suppliers and negotiate with current vendors when you participate in trade shows and scientific meetings such as those hosted by:

  • The American Society for Mass Spectrometry
  • The American Association of Clinical Chemistry
  • The American Academy of Forensic Sciences

At these large gatherings, set aside time to meet with equipment representatives and supply vendors who can help you establish budget-friendly contracts to fulfill your laboratory's requirements. Fellow scientists you meet at the trade-show workshops can give you tips to make your processes more cost effective. And you may also discover new equipment that can be operated at a lower cost and help protect your budget for years to come.