Is It Time to Upgrade My Laboratory Instruments?

Is it time to upgrade your laboratory instruments
Clinical laboratories are faced with trying to stay on the cutting edge of technology to maintain and grow their services to their clients. Laboratories attempting to grow their business may soon find out that their current instrumentation cannot accommodate increased test volume or a broader test menu. Acquisition of the best equipment requires the laboratory to review their current and future test menu, anticipate future test volumes, and maintain customer satisfaction while staying within their budget.

There are five considerations to help determine if your laboratory instruments need to be upgraded:

  1. Increase in Test Menu
  2. Increase in Test Volume
  3. Increase in Downtime
  4. Increase in Service Calls
  5. Increase in Service Costs

Increase in Test Menu

Some instruments may have a large test menu; however, they may not have a large on-board reagent capacity to accommodate the entire test menu. This scenario may require the technicians to test patient samples multiple times while switching out the test reagents to complete the tests requested by physicians. This serves as a great example of operational inefficiency and probably a source of technician dissatisfaction.

Perhaps the current instrumentation does not provide the means to expand the test menu. Laboratories desire expanded test menus in order to sell their services to capture more business; a common strategy in today’s environment of decreased test reimbursements. The instrument vendor may not offer newer tests; or the instrument could be a closed system whereby the laboratory cannot add open-channel reagents.

Increase in Test Volume

Laboratory equipment is constantly advancing which provides faster and more efficient operations in the laboratory. Utilizing updated lab equipment will help you optimize your workflow because samples are processed faster, and the speed of analysis increases substantially. An instrument upgrade could simply provide a higher, on-board sample capacity enabling technicians to tend to other tasks rather than feeding samples to an antiquated instrument. An increase in the overall efficiency of your lab allows you to handle a larger workload and perform more tests each day. Greater efficiency in testing allows a laboratory to grow its test volume, reduce operating expenses, and maintain customer satisfaction.

Increase in Downtime

There is nothing more frustrating to a laboratory technician than an instrument that is down. Troubleshooting a downed instrument can take many hours to identify the problem and attempt to fix it. This scenario may require communications with the instrument vendor for assistance. While some vendors answer technical hotline calls immediately, most will request the caller to leave a message and wait for a call-back which could take hours.

The added stress of patient samples sitting on the bench waiting to be analyzed while the instrument is down creates another concern for the technician and the supervisory staff. Clients are used to getting their test results in a timely manner so any delay may cause an abundant number of phone calls to the laboratory.

It is much like a snowball rolling down a hill. Instrument downtime delays sample testing resulting in delays in reporting test results that then cause an increase of phone calls to the laboratory office. Sample integrity can timeout during downtime causing provider frustration, sample re-collection, etc. compounding the initial lost testing time.

If your instrument’s downtime is increasing, or the number of incidents where the instrument is down is increasing, it is time to consider upgrading to a more reliable solution.

Increase in Service Calls and Service Costs

The average lifetime of an instrument is usually between 5 – 10 years. As instruments age, the incidence of an increase in service calls, whereby a field service engineer visits a laboratory to fix a problem, begins to increase. Instrument parts will begin to wear out and start to fail resulting in downtime. Vendors often sunset an older instrument causing challenges for trying to find replacement parts that could lead to increased cost and lead time for fixing a problem.

Some instrument vendors will increase their service contract price as an instrument ages to cover the cost of increasing service visits. If a laboratory chooses to not have a service contract and pay for service visits when needed, the vendor may increase the charges of service based upon the age of the instrument.


If you are experiencing any of these needs, it may be time to consider evaluating improved solutions for your laboratory:

  • Larger test menu
  • Better testing efficiencies with larger on-board capabilities of samples and reagents
  • Reduce downtime
  • Reduce the number of service calls
  • Reduce service costs

Laboratory Solutions from DTPM

DTPM offers scalable bench-top and high-volume instruments, reagents, a laboratory information system that is fully integrated with instruments and electronic health records (EHRs), and consumable products to meet your changing menu, volume, and service needs. We even offer service contracts for instruments purchased from an alternate vendor as our mission is to ensure optimal performance of your instrumentation.

We sell and service the following:

Indiko™ Plus: a bench-top instrument with a throughput of 180 tests/hour

Olympus AU400: floor model with a throughput of 400 tests/hour

Olympus AU480: floor model with a throughput of 400 tests/hour

Olympus AU640: floor model with a throughput of 800 tests/hour

Olympus AU680: floor model with a throughput of 800 tests/hour

Olympus AU5400: floor model with a throughput of 1600 tests/hour

Olympus AU5800: floor model with a throughput of 2000 tests/hour/module

QuantStudio™ 5: a bench-top PCR instrument

KingFisher™ Flex: a bench-top automated DNA/RNA purification instrument

Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry Instruments: instruments from various vendors such as Sciex, Waters, and Agilent

DTPM Phoenix Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS): a cloud-based system that improves a laboratory’s operational efficiency by enabling superior management of samples, test results, automated workflows, HL7 integrations in addition to meeting CLIA and HIPAA compliance requirements. The system is applicable for clinical laboratories and criminal justice testing sites. Customers will observe a compressed timeline as DTPM has the capability of integrating the Phoenix LIMS within several days whereas other vendors could take weeks to integrate a laboratory.

DTPM Service

While some instrument service organizations take hours to respond or make a caller leave a message and wait for a callback, the DTPM Service organization sends a caller directly to a service engineer. In the rare case a service engineer is not available at the time of the call, a DTPM engineer will call the customer back within one hour.

General Laboratory Supplies

In addition to instruments, reagents, and service, DTPM offers unmatched pricing for general testing supplies such as gloves, lint-free wipes, plates, urine collection cups, POC drug screening cups, molecular sample swabs with transport media, pipette tips, and more.

Contact us today to learn how DTPM can help your laboratory acquire products to meet your laboratory’s operational needs. Call 256-845-1261 or request a call from our team.