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When Considering Refurbished Instrumentation, Caveat Emptor!

Team TFS
Team TFS
refurbished-2Scientists and their partners in procurement have to make careful determinations about how they spend their limited budgets on capital equipment. Procurement departments are also constantly looking for low-cost options that still meet performance criteria. One of those options is a refurbished instrument. In the area of mass spectrometry, researchers and scientists can choose from a broad range of suppliers so selecting the right one is critical.

Pre-owned MS systems are available from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), warehouse retailers, brokers, auction houses, and even on eBay. Yet, buying mission-critical instruments from third parties can carry significant risk in terms of quality, installation, up-time, cost of service, and lifecycle support. This makes a strong case for selecting the OEM for your used equipment needs.

Here are five reasons why:

1. Great performance for the price.

OEMs that have used instrument and refurbishment programs provide robust mass specs that are often available at much lower prices and with the same quality and performance as new instruments.

2. High standards.

OEMs refurbish instruments to precise manufacturing specifications that include new parts replacement, safety upgrades, complete instrument testing across the breadth of performance parameters, full quality control inspections, and more. Used equipment brokers and resellers cannot meet these standards. Consumers should be very cautious when third-party companies claim they meet the manufacturer’s original specs. For example, the OEM will test and tune a mass spec across a wide array of performance modes and mass ranges whereas third parties may only optimize on one test compound with a narrow mass range.

3. Superior service and support.

If sample limitations, instrument uptime, and service response time are important considerations, the OEM is well equipped to meet customer needs.

  • They have large, global, highly trained service organizations that provide previously owned warranty service, often with 48-hour response. Third-party supplier/vendors do not have the resources to provide fast response in all geographies.

  • OEMs will have phone support for hardware, software, and application questions as part of the instrument warranty (typically one year) with access to technical documents that third parties cannot offer. In addition, they have expert scientists to provide assistance with method development or application issues. While many third parties may provide a one-year warranty, they cannot match the OEM for the performance and quality of their service and applications support.

  • OEMs have expert sales specialists that can help you select the correct instrument for your application requirements (for example, triple quads versus high resolution accurate mass systems) at the needed price point.

  • What happens when third-party service cannot repair a down instrument? The original equipment manufacturer has a dedicated service team that will provide first-, second-, and third-level escalation resources to get you up and running as quickly as possible. If the service engineer (level 1) cannot repair the instrument, they will call in a regional technical specialist (level 2). If they cannot repair the instrument, specialized factory resources (level 3) will be called to support the escalation. Some OEMs offer a “fix or replace” assurance to their customers. While not a separate line item on an OEM sales order, escalation support should be a consideration when buying a previously owned instrument.

4. Software compatibility.

Software is critical to any workflow and OEMs are regularly introducing new and updated software that matches the hardware closely and allows for maximum overall performance.

5. Low cost of ownership.

When evaluating suppliers of pre-owned instrumentation, it’s important to consider cost of ownership. Buying from a third-party provider may appear to be a good financial decision on paper given the lower purchase price but slow or unpredictable service response, unplanned downtime, loss of precious sample, and impacts to your business objectives and ROI can more than offset those initial savings. With the OEM, you may pay more up front but will benefit in the long run from excellent warranty service and support, great uptime, and high productivity.

A refurbished instrument can be a remarkable option when you need to add to your lab’s capabilities but have a limited capital budget. Be sure you take into account all the factors, not just purchase price, that can impact your decision now and in the future. Buying from the OEM offers many benefits, not the least of which are the security and peace of mind you get from knowing you have a trusted partner that will help you get the most out of your pre-owned equipment for many years to come.

Learn more about our refurbished LC-MS program, as well as our trade-in program.