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Your Laboratory Equipment: Why a Contract Service Agreement Just Makes Sense

laboratory equipment preventative maintenance
No matter what your core business is, you need the right tools in good working order to deliver accurate results on time and on budget.

Never is this more evident than inside a laboratory. Having the right equipment—and keeping it running smoothly and calibrated accurately—is what makes it possible for your staff to do their jobs.

Fortunately, unlike some of the challenges laboratories have dealt with in the past six months, controlling downtime due to faulty instrumentation is one factor that affects your business that is within your control as a lab owner or manager.

There are four reasons why contracting with an experienced industry partner for an ongoing laboratory service agreement makes sense for you as a lab owner or manager:

1. Mitigates Downtime

First and foremost, if your equipment isn’t working, your lab’s productivity grinds to a halt. When your instrumentation is down, your staff can’t work. Having your equipment properly maintained on a regular basis is the most effective way to fix that. Knowing your instrumentation is being evaluated and maintained by a service contract team will enhance your team’s performance, mitigate downtime, and give you peace of mind.

2. Reduces Costs

With your lab instrumentation and equipment as with so many other things, an ounce of prevention is well worth a pound of cure. When you have periodic, regular maintenance through a service agreement, it is much more likely that problems with your equipment will be caught and addressed before they turn into larger issues. Letting one of these issues with your instrumentation go unheeded and unaddressed can take a big toll on your productivity, compromising your production schedule and deliverables. And if any of your lab equipment needs to be repaired, your service partner will be available to fix it—and that means you can manage your timelines better, meet your deadlines, and keep costs under control.

3. Allocates Resources Effectively

Are you currently relying on your bench scientists to keep their own equipment running well? While it may be true that some of your staff have the skills and experience needed to maintain and calibrate their lab equipment, does it make sense to ask them to? Assigning these more routine maintenance and repair tasks to a team of experts whose only job is to keep your equipment in good working order will allow your team to focus on the higher level of tasks you hired them to do.

4. Saves Time

Having a single point of contact when you need equipment maintained or repaired will save you from the lost time that results from having to manage different vendors and various maintenance schedules for each of your departments. A contract service agreement simplifies this often-complex administrative process and gives you and your team more time to focus on accomplishing the deliverables and other tasks at hand.

When you contract with an experienced and reliable service partner, you will have the assurance that your investment in your equipment and instrumentation is being protected properly. In addition to having the peace of mind that your assets will be in top working order when you need them to be, you will be able to mitigate downtime, reduce costs, allocate your resources more effectively, and save time—all important strategic advantages that your lab can leverage to benefit your laboratory operation and results.

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How COVID-19 Is Impacting Lab Operations

scientists talking at a laboratory table
The unemployment rate in the United States is currently hovering around 15%, the worst since the Great Depression. Women, Hispanics, and African Americans have been especially hard-hit and employment in the hospitality and retail sectors has also seen a sharp decline. According to a study conducted in April by market research firm BioInformatics, a partner of The Science Advisory Board, scientists and researchers are also concerned about what the immediate future holds for their employment outlook.

Of the 1,178 participants in the BioInformatics study, 74% were academic researchers and 26% were pharmaceutical or biotech scientists. On a regional basis, 33% of participants were based in North America, 31% in Europe, 24% in Asia, and the remaining 12% were from various other locations around the world.

Although many scientists are classified as essential employees, there are many who are not— and whose livelihoods have been adversely affected during the last 2–3 months by state and local stay-at-home orders. Following the trend set by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, many programs classified as non-essential have been temporarily shut down. In addition, many scientific researchers rely on grants to conduct their research— a funding source that has been all but curtailed during the quarantine. Many researchers have indicated that funds previously used to fund their ongoing studies have been diverted to maintain current animal studies and to pay core staff.

Today, approximately three months from the initial stay-at-home orders, many labs remain closed. The situation has especially dire implications for academic scientists, only 10% of whom responded that their labs were fully operational. More than 56% of academic laboratories remain affected— many more than pharmaceutical or industry laboratories, 27% of which are still closed. Of the remaining 612 labs that are partially or fully operational, 32% conduct research related to infectious diseases, compared with 68% that are not involved in infectious disease research. Surprisingly, a full 71% of research labs dedicated to infectious disease research report running at reduced capacity.

The productivity of those labs who have remained open has been adversely affected by physical distancing and other public health measures put in place to slow or minimize the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus. Unlike many industries who have been able to stay connected through video conferencing platforms like Zoom and GoToMeeting, this alternative has been far less effective in sustaining the collaborative efforts of scientists and researchers engaged in multidisciplinary projects

In April, according to the rating scale on the initial survey, scientists indicated that their work had been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. A significant number of survey participants indicated that a severe economic downturn directly resulting from the outbreak would limit their ability to work. When broken down by research focus, infectious disease researchers working at operational labs reported slightly less concern over their ability to work than did their colleagues at academic labs or those involved in other types of research.

Very few areas of modern life have remained untouched by the pandemic, and the livelihoods of scientists and researchers are no exception. However, despite their current concern about how the pandemic and related economic crisis will affect their employment in the short-term, most expect to get back to conducting their research after the crisis passes. According to the recently updated U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, updated last September, epidemiologists, medical, biological, and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, biochemists and biophysicists, microbiologists, and medical and research scientists are and will continue to be among the fastest-growing jobs between now and 2028.

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How The Life Sciences Industry May Look After COVID-19

scientist holding test tube blood sample

Almost every aspect of our personal and professional lives has been retooled. When it comes to the economy, a slowdown of epic proportions has already begun. How will the days, weeks, and months ahead affect the life sciences industry? Analyzing how life sciences companies have fared though the past three recessions reveals some encouraging news.

It’s important to realize that, unlike the vast majority of businesses, the core business of life science companies is more in-demand than ever before. This is good news for the individuals who work for life sciences companies, as well as the vast network of businesses—like BaneBio and many others—that support them.

The savings and loan crisis of the early 1990s, the post-9/11 dot.com bust, or the Great Recession of 2008 and beyond give us a context for how life sciences companies perform in the face of economic crisis. If the steadiness performance of the industry during the severe economic downturns precipitated by these events are any indication, life sciences businesses are in a good position to continue to serve the marketplace well in the foreseeable future.

Some Good News

History would appear to indicate that the life sciences industry is less affected by market fluctuations than other types of businesses during periods of recession and/or economic slowdown.
• Following the savings and loan crisis in 1991, transactions negotiated within the life sciences environment grew 54%; that volume decline by an average of 2.4% for all other sectors.
• In 2001 after the attack on America, transactions within the life sciences arena grew by 18%, while our colleagues in all other businesses suffered a decline in deal volume at the rate of 32%.
• During the Great Recession of 2008, the life sciences industry’s deal volume declined by 25%, still an improvement over the 30% decline in deal activity for all other sectors.

As we stare down the barrel of the current pandemic, history would indicate that several factors are likely to at least partially insulate the life sciences industry from disastrous losses.

First, biopharmaceutical companies will continue to produce medications at a similar or better rate as in the pre-COVID world. Chronic disease and acute illness will proceed unchecked by the presence of coronavirus, necessitating steady if not accelerated production of drugs used in their prevention and treatment.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, while most in the business world are impaled on the horns of the coronavirus dilemma, those of us in the life sciences cohort are firmly engaged in finding some of the most important solutions of our time. Our collective focus is on supporting rapid diagnostic testing, better treatment, and eventually the development of a safe and effective vaccine.

Three Areas of Concentration

There is no instruction manual for handling the current and long-term effects of the pandemic on global trade and commerce. However, early indications are that life sciences companies should mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in three ways:

Manage the Change

Despite the continued demand for the service of the life sciences cohort, the way services are delivered will continue to be very different. As many have already experienced, the impact on your workforce as employees try to set priorities, stay focused, and manage their production schedules and deliverables while working remotely is significant.

Whenever possible, the challenge for leadership will be to get out in front of issues, creating policies and procedures that work well for your shop rather than reacting to news as it happens. How will you configure your workspace if physical distancing requirements are relaxed to allow partial or limited reopening? Will you test your employees daily? How will you ensure that communication among team members sharing responsibilities and goals is seamless and effective?

Meanwhile, pharma companies are feverishly checking their medicinal archives for anti-viral activity related to COVID-19 using innovative combinations. In parallel, diagnostic companies are racing to get rapid tests approved and scaled up, working through private-public partnerships. Medical supply manufacturers and distributors are scrambling to avoid backlogs and get personal protective equipment and medical supplies to healthcare professionals who are in dire need.

Look Ahead

Several months into the pandemic, the changes it has driven have given us both insight into its current effects on our businesses and a window into the future. Use this time to analyze and evaluate the measures taken to manage the effect the pandemic has had on your business. Leverage that insight to design and implement a more long-term plan that includes both an extended period of illness and closure and the things you are likely to encounter in the post-COVID 19 world. Are there, or will there be, opportunities that did not exist before? Identify these and act accordingly.

Revamp Your Business Plan

Building on the previous suggestion, a post-COVID world is likely to offer opportunities that were unavailable just last year, especially to small and mid-sized companies. On the other hand, we will have learned lessons from the experience that wise business owners and CEOs should bring to bear on future planning, including:

Review Your Contingency Planning: You know that employee in Accounting who was always advocating keeping a higher percentage of revenue in reserve for a “Rainy Day”? Even if you couldn’t agree with their abundance of caution before, history has proven them right. Having significant reserves for the unthinkable has turned out to be very prudent. Instead of going through cursory “in case of emergency” financial exercises, consider making real, detailed “worst case scenario planning” a priority. Take the time to summarize and implement the lessons learned during COVID-19 to create a guidebook for future public health or other emergencies while the events are still fresh in your mind.

Plan for Increased Digital Interaction: In-person interactions between patients and clients and healthcare providers, customer service representatives, and more was already rapidly decreasing prior to the onset of the pandemic. The public health measures put in place to slow the spread of the disease taught us that video-conferencing and other forms of remote access can work…and work well. Like the majority of industries, life sciences companies need to find ways to integrate digital interaction into their daily operations and long-term business models.

Evaluate Information Technology: What used to be an appropriate IT function will likely prove to be inadequate in a more digital, post-COVID world. With video-conferencing and other interactive applications now in use on a much wider scale, stricter cybersecurity measures need to be deployed as quickly as possible. Breaches and vulnerabilities have already been exposed early due to the increased use of these collaborative apps. Systematic IT strategies to address these are in order.

Analyze Your Supply Chain: Commerce has had access to a global marketplace for at least 20 years. Despite the significant savings often realized by businesses when securing products from other countries, prepare for that to possibly change in a post-COVID environment. On the heels of “supply chain repatriation” activity in Europe, there is a bill currently in front of the US Senate that would provide incentives for companies to secure needed products—including medicinal devices and medical supplies so important to the life sciences industry—without going outside the country.

Adjust for Pipeline Delays: The pandemic has resulted in significant disruptions to the typical schedule for the testing, approval, and subsequent launch of biopharmaceuticals. Clinical trials already in progress have been stopped or postponed. Fewer patients are enrolling in the small number of trials that are still moving forward, and the changes in Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policies and procedures driven by the need to comply with physical distancing and other public health measures are also resulting in considerable delays to market.

Life sciences companies are dealing with the same “unprecedented” crisis as the rest of the business sector, but a review of the last three decades would indicate that the industry has some unique characteristics that will help it survive economically while contributing significantly to the solution the world is waiting for.

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BaneBio: Working Toward a Sustainable Maryland

At BaneBio, we’re proud to say that every day is Earth Day. Our membership in The Maryland Green Registry is one important way that we have stated our commitment to strong, proactive environmental management through sustainable policies with measurable results.

recycling of metal graph

Our Environmental Policy Statement

We strive to achieve good environmental practices and operate in a sustainable manner. Reducing our environmental impact and continually improving our environmental performance are integral to our business strategy, core values, and operating methods.

 We have pledged to:

  • Support and comply with the requirements of current environmental regulations.
  • Improve our environmental efforts by setting goals to reduce, reuse, and recycle to the best of our ability each year
  • Reduce material and energy waste, the production of material waste, and energy waste
  • Reuse or recycle as much of our waste as possible
  • Reduce the production of pollutants with respect of water, land, and air
  • Adequately train all staff on environmental codes of practice and our developed environmental program
  • Communicate the importance of good environmental practice to our customers, staff, and community

Our Environmental Team

The nine members of BaneBio’s environmental team work continually to discover new and different ways to communicate with our customers and the community about the importance of proper environmental practices. Each team member is empowered to strive for 100% recycling as a part of our daily business routine.

Our Annual Environmental Goals

Our management and environmental teams meet monthly to discuss ways to minimize our ecological impact during the course of our day-to-day operations. We have made a commitment to:

  • Recycle all components of equipment that have reached the end of their usable life
  • Reduce facility waste by 75%
  • Improve environmental efforts by placing multiple recycle bins around the office and warehouse
  • Encourage staff, customers, and the community to abide by current environmental regulations

Environmentally Preferable Products and Services

BaneBio’s core business is based on regenerating and extending the life of lab equipment that might otherwise be disposed of. If equipment reaches the end of its life, the parts are scrapped and recycled at the local scrapyard.

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing

BaneBio purchases copy paper, file folders, ink cartridges, note pads, markers, plastic cutlery, plates, can liners, and bathroom tissue that are classified either “green” or recycled.

Solid Waste Reduction and Reuse

We believe in reusing/recycling all types of packaging and office materials. In the warehouse, we reuse bubble wrap, fill cushioning, polyethylene-poly bags, cardboard boxes, and more. In the office, we reuse/recycle manila file folders, copy paper, cardstock, plastic ware, CDs, glassware, aluminum, desk accessories, and office chairs.

Recycling

Bane Bio recycles the warehouse and office supplies listed above when they cannot be reused. In addition, we recycle steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass, and copper

The Maryland Green Registry has been an invaluable partner to BaneBio as we strive to develop, meet, and exceed our goals on the path to sustainability. BaneBio is proud to have done its part to help the Maryland Green Registry save more than $107 million annually through the proven, practical measures they have shared with their members.

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Starting a Lab: Begin with the End in Mind

medical research lab

When starting a new lab, it’s wise to take a page out of Steven Covey’s landmark book from 1989, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and “begin with the end in mind.”
What Covey means here is this: before you start your project— in this case building or designing a new laboratory— think about what its function and purpose are going to be when you’re finished. Answering those questions will give you a roadmap for everything else.

For example, is this a research lab? A cell culture lab may need sanitized areas, autoclaves, freezers, and incubators. Analytical labs require efficient air-conditioning and controllable humidity. If used for teaching purposes, include a whiteboard, a projector, storage space for backpacks and supplies, and writing surfaces/desks.

Laboratory Equipment

This will likely be your biggest expense, so don’t take it lightly. Start with a detailed list of what you are going to fulfill the purpose of your new lab. Next, inventory what might already be available to you somewhere else in your current facilities. Decide if it makes sense for you to buy, rent, or lease. If you decide to buy, you can sometimes find discounts available only to new, start-up labs. Used lab equipment from a reputable dealer is also a great way to save money.

Layout

Once you have your vision and obtained the equipment needed to bring it to fruition, it’s time to lay out the physical plant. Start by laying out your lab into different “zones”, each with varying degrees and types of hazards. Allocate various functions into the different zones so that the equipment in each is easily accessible but does not impede the flow of traffic. Speaking of access, be sure that lab entry is restricted to only authorized personnel. And finally, be sure there are multiple exits to be sure everyone is as safe as possible in the event of an emergency such as fire or building evacuation.

Safety

In addition to basics like fire extinguishers, make sure you have fire blankets, emergency showers (with easy-reach handles), eye-wash stations, gloves, masks, and any other task-specific safety equipment that might be needed. Require all staff to complete a compulsory safety training program that identifies potential hazards and appropriate procedures to address them.

Paperwork

There’s a lot of DIY involved in setting up a new lab, but there will also be some steps for which you’d be better served to consult a senior PI or mentor to make sure your start-up is in compliance. At the top of the list will likely be a HIRA (Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment). If your lab will be conducting tests on animals, you will need to obtain a license for animal testing and submit a research proposal to the applicable, regional regulatory bodies for approval. Depending on the type of reagents you use, you will also need to file forms with various regulatory agencies, especially if you use infectious agents or biological toxins.

Biosafety

Biosafety involves the measures taken when handling biological organisms/materials that are known to pose a threat to human health. Containment of the potentially hazardous organism or material in an emergency to reduce the number of exposures is critical. Your lab will need to demonstrate the availability and efficient implementation of both primary and secondary barriers.

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How To Choose the Right Medical Freezer

innova freezers

When you work in a field where consistency and accuracy are the foundation for meaningful results, it’s crucial to have the right tools for every task. Your equipment needs to do precisely what you need it to do the first time, every time, so that you and your staff are free to focus on your work with confidence.

So when it comes to buying a new freezer for your lab, finding a model that both meets your needs and provides consistent performance is crucial. And no matter how meticulously you have shopped for a household appliance in the past, finding the best commercial grade medical freezer is far more complicated. Specific requirements of commercial laboratory freezers include the abilities to:

  • Maintain a specific temperature consistently.
  • Reach an especially cold temperature in order to keep specific types of medical and laboratory samples fresh.
  • Tell users when the freezer temperature falls out of acceptable range.
  • Provide reliable durability to avoid the costs and consequences of ruined samples or medications.

Because an industrial freezer in a research laboratory or medical practice must meet more stringent requirements, expect the cost to reflect that. The cost is high but what’s at stake— including the accuracy of your results and potential damage to your lab’s good reputation— is far higher. So before you start shopping, review our Guide to get a solid idea of the options that should factor in to your decision about which industrial freezer to buy for your lab, pharmacy, or research facility.

Common Uses for Medical Freezers

A finely calibrated, high quality freezer for your healthcare facility, medical practice, pharmacy, or research laboratory will have specialized features that ensure that sensitive items remain viable including:

  • Vaccines, which must be stored according to CDC guidelines
  • Medications that require a consistent temperature for storage.
  • Chemicals that may be either ruined or compromised if not stored within a specific temperature range.
  • Medical laboratory samples and donations, such as blood, plasma, and bone marrow.
  • Sensitive research samples and material, such as biological research samples of tissue or cells.

Types of Medical & Lab Freezers

There are four main types of medical freezers for your consideration:

  1. Upright Medical Freezer. One of the common types of medical freezers, upright models come in a variety of sizes. From countertop for the smallest operations with very limited storage, to full sized units equipped to handle the storage needs of the largest research facilities and hospitals, upright medical freezers can be configured internally using movable shelves to suit the types of storage you need.
  2. Undercounter Medical Freezer. Typically on the smaller side, undercounter or “built-in” freezers can be made to fit seamlessly into the space available without taking up valuable floor space. To allow for proper ventilation, these undercounter units utilize forward-facing vents. This feature may result in a higher upfront cost for installation, but certain models are available that do not require professional installation.
  3. Chest Medical Freezer. Similar to the large, top-opening “deep freezers” found in residential settings, a commercial chest freezer offers a lot of storage space. Despite its significant volume, keep in mind that a commercial chest freezer will not have the shelving upright models have that allow for orderly organization and easier access. Some have alarm systems to alert users if the temperature changes, as well as digital temperature displays and doors that lock.
  4. Ultra-Low Temperature Medical Freezers. If the materials you are storing require especially low temperatures, you will likely need an ultra-low temperature freezer. Designed to reach temperatures as low as -85°, an ultra-low temperature freezer is ideal for storing sensitive materials that require extremely low temperatures that must be reliably, certifiably, and consistently maintained. These models fit the bill for power and consistency, but they also use a lot of energy to maintain those ultra-low temperatures– you will likely see this reflected in your energy bill.

Purchasing Considerations

Chances are you’re coming to this purchasing process with at least a basic idea of what options your lab freezer should have to meet your needs. To make sure you choose the best freezer for your facility, we’ve listed out a few important factors that should be considered while browsing your options.

  1. Size.  One of your most important decisions involves balancing the amount and type of storage you need with the amount of space you have to dedicate to the freezer. Upright units take up moderate floor space, and often can be custom-configured using the flexible shelving included— providing easier, more organized access to smaller items. If floor space isn’t an issue, and you typically store larger items that are readily visible and accessible without the use of shelves, a chest medical freezer may be the right option for you. You will also want to keep in mind your potential storage needs when your business grows. Purchasing a small freezer now that barely meets your storage needs may save you money today, but will ultimately prove falsely economical if you need to buy a second unit in the near future when your storage needs expand. Selecting a larger model initially with “room to grow” will likely cost a bit more initially, but that extra cost will be worth it if the larger freezer is better suited for your lab long-term.
  2. Temperature. With the exception of “ultra-low” freezers designed to maintain a consistent temperature down to as low as -86°, most medical freezers offer temperature ranges between -18° and -25°— which is comparable to residential appliances. But don’t be misled. Compared to home freezer units, medical freezers provide temperatures that are far more precise, consistent, and sustainable. In addition, most medical freezers are equipped with important safety features— like digital thermostat displays on the outside of the freezer, and alarms that alert users when there’s been an unexpected change in temperature— to help ensure your materials are being stored at the correct temperature at all times.
  3. Cost. The amount of money you have to spend can place some restrictions on the type of medical freezer you can afford. Start by analyzing precisely what your needs are for storage, the space you have to dedicate to the freezer, and the budget you have to work with.
  4. Energy Efficiency. To conserve energy and manage costs involved, look for a lab freezer that is Energy Star-rated. You may need to consult the most recent EPA guidelines for Energy Star ratings for laboratory-grade refrigeration and freezers, but the extra research will be well worth it.

Features to Look For:

  1. External Digital Thermometer. Having a way to monitor your medical freezer’s internal temperature without opening the door and releasing cold air is important. A digital thermometer on the outside of the unit will allow you to easily view the temperature within the unit without opening the door.
  2. Lock. A lock will help keep out people who don’t have authorization to access the contents inside and minimize the frequency in which the freezer is opened. This is especially important in the case of some medications and chemicals.
  3. Glass Doors. See-through doors allow users to assess the contents without having to open the door.
  4. Combo Refrigerator/Freezer. Think about what your storage needs are. Does it make sense to invest in a tandem unit? You may find a refrigerator/freezer combo costs less and uses space more efficiently than buying the units separately.
  5. Temperature Alarm. Selecting a model that has an alarm that will alert you should the unit’s internal temperature change due to an electrical outage, malfunction, or user error will do more than any other feature to preserve the integrity your stored items.

Brands to Watch

  • American BioTech. A major player in the lab equipment and medical supplies arena with a good reputation for quality and service, American BioTech offers a wide selection of freezers in various sizes and designs. In addition to being reliable and solidly built, American BioTech’s line of medical freezers typically feature door locks and temperature alarms. They most often come with a warranty for parts and labor, which further backs up their reputation for reliability.
  • Like many brands included on this list, EdgeStar also deals in residential appliances as well as products for the medical and commercial space. Currently, the selection of medical equipment and supplies from EdgeStar is more limited than its counterparts, but its products have a good reputation for quality and reliability, and are receiving excellent user reviews.
  • Nor-Lake. Looking for a wide selection of medical freezers, including ultra-low temperature models specifically designed to store plasma? Nor-Lake is a great place to start. Their lab freezers are often energy-efficient, including special features like audio and visual temperature alarms and digital LED temperature displays. This is a growing company with a solid reputation for quality and reliability with an increasing number of satisfied users.
  • So-Low. Also a familiar name in lab and medical equipment, So-Low offers a wide range of lab freezers that can be used for various specialized purposes. Their freezers go through extensive testing to ensure they meet the exacting requirements of a medical environment, and most come with warranties to back that up.
  • Much like EdgeStar, this brand is better known for residential appliances, including a wide selection of refrigerators and freezers. On the commercial side, Summit has a moderate selection of medical freezers in various sizes that offer reliable and consistent temperature control and an array of special features such as temperature displays and locks.

When it comes to the performance of your new or used lab equipment— especially your freezer— the stakes are high. If your freezer malfunctions or breaks down, you may be facing the loss of important medical samples, blood or tissue that others have donated, or the credibility of the research you and your team have been working on. Choose carefully! Make sure you know precisely what your storage needs will be. Balance these needs against the space you have available for the freezer unit. Consider your growth needs, and by all means, go with a brand that has a solid reputation.

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Selling Your Surplus Lab Equipment

used laboratory equipment
January seems to be the month when we look around our homes and businesses and decide how we can organize and declutter– and that process often starts with an inventory of what we actually need vs. what we can “rehome” in some way. For example, if you work in a lab, you know firsthand: technology outpaces equipment at a rapid rate and we outgrow stuff fast. It doesn’t take long for that corner in the warehouse where “surplus stuff we don’t need anymore” lives to fill up.

Selling some of that surplus used laboratory equipment off will put some money back in your operations budget while clearing out some much-needed room… but you have a few decisions to make first.

First, you need to decide if you’re going to go it alone or partner with a professional lab equipment reseller. Even confirmed DIYers will tell you– using eBay or LabX can be trickier than you think. Acting as your own agent doesn’t necessarily mean you will keep more of your selling price when you consider the following factors:

• Are you starting from scratch on eBay or LabX? Previous selling history is a big factor in motivating buyers to trust an online seller. Unless you have some positive, peer-reviewed transactions with colleagues in the industry, your stuff is likely to get skipped over.
• How much time do you have? If you do get some action on a listing, be prepared to respond promptly– this audience is used to hearing from sellers within a few hours, so you delay at the risk of that seller’s rating you’re trying to build.
• Payment Processing. You’ll want to set up a PayPal account or something similar to keep your company safe from the kind of liability any sort of personal account leaves you open to– scams are not uncommon online. There are set-up and transaction costs associated with any of these third-party payers and vendor support is nearly non-existent.
• How are you going to handle shipping? Packing is expensive and shipping methods are pricey and on the rise.
• What’s your claims policy? Responsibility for the equipment or instrument reaching the buyer in working condition is yours. How will you address broken stuff on delivery when it happens? The cost of on-site service could very quickly absorb your profit.
• What about refunds? Do you offer a satisfaction guarantee?

Partnering with a professional lab equipment reseller like Bane Bio can facilitate this process in a number of different ways:

Consignment. You and your chosen reseller split the profit after we sell and deliver your item. Before the split, we deduct costs like refurbishment and testing. It can take a while to find the right buyer, but if you’re not in a hurry, this scenario may yield the best price.
Direct Sale. The reseller offers you a price for the item and takes it away. They pay for any marketing, testing, and refurbishing. It’s simple and a quick way to get paid if the item has value that the reseller feels is worth paying for.
Auction. Got a lot of equipment to unload? Closing or restructuring? Selling everything at once at auction can work well. Once the auction is complete, you receive a share of the auction price. There are fees associated with auctions, but you can sell a lot at once and you’ll know when you will be paid, even if the ultimate price is up to the bidders.

Maximize your chances of making top dollar by preparing your surplus lab equipment using three basic steps:

Collect each item for sale and be sure everything that goes with it, including all cables, dongles, and small accessories.
Clean and decontaminate all surfaces thoroughly, including the data it may contain. If personal accounts were used on the system, wipe them and create new generic admin and user accounts to allow the reseller to operate and access the system without using employees’ personal logins.
Document the manufacturer, model, and serial numbers of each component. Include a list of everything included–accessories, parts, or consumables. Provide the software licenses and keys. Providing the original invoice or packing slip and/or the service history of the system is also helpful. The more information that a reseller can have about the lab equipment you’re selling, the better.

Making a decision between choosing an experienced reselling partner or going it alone is a balancing act between time, effort, risk, and money. Only you can make that decision, but remember that Bane Bio is just a phone call or mouse click away to help you list your surplus equipment on consignment, or sell your items directly to us or to other companies at auction.

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Tips For How To Start Building A Distillery

distilling equipment

Opening a Distillery: It Ain’t All Moonshine Anymore

What’s your hobby? Crocheting potholders? Whipping up enviable aspics? Creating paint-by-number masterpieces? Homebrewing beer? Congratulations if you chose that last one — that means you’re one of the few hobbyists who can reliably count on at least some people enjoying your wares. Well done!

So what happens if you love homebrewing beer so much you want to take it up a notch? How hard could it be, you say, to make small-batch bourbon or whiskey? Dreaming big is great, but a word to the wise: the difference between homebrewing beer and crafting spirits is night and day. So here’s a few things to think about before taking your hobby to the next level.

The One Thing You Absolutely Need To Know

If you’re intrigued by the idea of opening a distillery, it would be normal and natural to want to try your hand at distilling at home before going big. But don’t even think about it. Not an option. Unlike home brewing, home distilling is completely illegal… and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Why? Not only does the process off-gas extremely volatile, explosive, high proof alcohol vapors inside a pressurized vessel (think ”bomb”), it’s possible to make straight-up poison if you don’t know what you’re doing. Seriously. You could kill yourself or someone else!

The Difference Between a Dream & a Goal Is a Plan

As expensive as opening a brewery would be, opening a distillery costs even more. Start by writing a business plan. How will you capitalize your distillery? Will you need investors? What equipment will you need? (BaneBio may be able to help with high quality, used brewery and distilling equipment.) Assuming you make a sellable product, will you have the means in-house to create a brand? Think of a name, design packaging and create a website? Also, who’s going to sell your products and to whom? These costs need to be part of your overall business plan to open a distillery– it all adds up.

Because spirits are of a higher proof than beer, everything will need to adhere to a higher standard of safety– and that means extra time and money. You’ll need to adhere to more codes, which means more inspections. Oh, and you’re going to be paying far higher taxes on spirits than you would for beer.

Getting Started

It’s important to answer two questions very early in the process: 1. What do you want to distill? 2. How much product do you want to make? These decisions, along with where you’re located and several other factors, are going to drive everything else. Regardless, there’s one thing you can count on: opening a distillery is going to cost more than you think. Estimates of $300,000 to $500,000 aren’t out of line.

As for equipment, the following is a bare-bones list. Keep in mind that distillery equipment is very specialized, but BaneBio may be able to help with some of the basics.

Water

You can’t make alcohol of any kind without water, so regardless of what your answers were to Questions 1 and 2 above, you’re going to need a source of water. Yes, you can use garden-variety tap water, but some top shelf H20 isn’t a bad idea. Bourbon loyalists will tell you that there’s no good bourbon outside of Kentucky thanks to its unique, limestone-rich water, but absent that, just try for a good filtered water base.

Cooker

You need something to bring your grain and water mixture up to a designated temperature for a certain amount of time. In a perfect world, you’d have a sophisticated way to send that mixture from the cooker to the fermenter, but a basic pump will work.

Fermenter

This is where the magic happens. Your fermenter is the large vessel where your grain, water, and yeast mixture hangs out for a few days—or long enough for the yeast to eat the sugar and create alcohol, which you can capture after a few days and distill it.

Still

Now you basically have grain alcohol. If you want to make *drinkable* alcohol? Then you’re going to need a distillery, aka “still.” The process from here on out is an interesting blend of chemistry, physics, and old-fashioned luck. Select your vendors and suppliers carefully– be sure they are reputable, and that safety is their top priority. Distillation can be dangerous business. You honestly can’t be too careful…so plan accordingly.

Some people wonder if the market is already saturated with small-batch distilleries. Just look at craft beer breweries. New ones are popping up all over the place. We think the future of small-batch distilleries can be just as bright!

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BaneBio To Host BioBeers At New Location on November 22nd

biobeers in frederick md

Mark your calendars! On November 22nd from 4:30-7:30pm, BaneBio, your favorite scientific supermarket, is hosting BioBeers in our new location at 4845 Governors Way in Frederick, MD. Join us for a fun evening of great conversation, your favorite beer, and delicious food – all served with a smile and a side of networking and socializing. The more, the merrier – so invite your friends and coworkers and head on over for happy hour, BaneBio style!