Why Equipment Service Coverage Matters

Lab equipment can be costly: mass spectrometers often cost hundreds of thousands of dollars alone. In addition to a hefty price tag, you will likely need to pay for ongoing maintenance, as it is often essential to instrument accuracy and reliability. Considering the price you pay for purchasing the instrument, service coverage, which usually comes included with a 1 year warranty, can seem like an unnecessary cost.

However, without service coverage, unexpected breakdowns and on-demand services can easily eat into your budget, leaving you scrambling for time and money. Nonetheless, many people choose to forgo service coverage, despite the fact that it offers financial and logistical benefits and provides peace of mind, despite the extra cost. In this article, we'll provide an overview of equipment maintenance and repairs, service contracts, and their distinction from on-demand service.

Need new or refurbished lab equipment? Excedr leases.

See our equipment list and browse a sample selection of what we can source. Or, if you’re ready, request an estimate.

Troubleshooting & Technical Product Support

When calling most customer support services in other industries, we may initially be faced with automated responses and little to no troubleshooting, requiring further escalation. Equipment manufacturers, on the other hand, generally offer a responsive technical product support service, available on-call, as needed to provide you with answers and any additional information you may need.

This department usually consists of technical support representatives ready to assist with general questions, preliminary troubleshooting, and gathering information required for further escalation. Representatives have basic product knowledge and work to help facilitate a solution while those service repair appointments are requested.

Technical product support is typically available to all customers, even those without service coverage, however, only a primary level of troubleshooting is available. After initial discussions, the representative gathers all information and creates a case to escalate to the applicable technician. When a case is escalated to a technician, having full service coverage helps.

With a service coverage plan, technicians are able to access the customer’s equipment history, providing faster turnaround times. Generally, equipment protected under service coverage agreements is prioritized over on-demand service, helping customers avoid extended waiting times after their cases are officially submitted. It also allows customers to approve their repairs without any additional fees or next steps, including approving the service quote.

Manufacturer Technicians

All service technicians are certified and fully skilled in product maintenance and repairs, specifically for their product types. These technicians offer on-site, in-house, and phone assistance for any repairs or regular maintenance needed.

With service contracts, these technicians are free of charge and have speedy turnaround times, providing quick solutions. While technicians are generally available for assistance during standard business hours, some contracts may also include after-hour response times for any urgent needs.

Once customer approval is given after the case escalation, the manufacturer technician will take care of all services under an existing contract with no out-of-pocket costs. On-demand service is also available once requested; however, these services will require quote and repair estimate approvals and any necessary part orders, supplied by the technicians.

Manufacturers sometimes may not have parts readily available for repairs, and technicians are

faced with extended lead times for completion. In addition to the lead times and part fees, the technician services are billed by the hour for labor and any applicable inspection fees. For example, technicians generally estimate parts such as the PCB of a centrifuge to cost ~10-20% of the original equipment’s hardware price, without labor charges.

Service Location Options

Most manufacturers offer both in-house and on-site services regardless of whether your equipment is protected with service coverage or not. Depending on the equipment type and problem, both service types may be available to you. Certified and local technicians are available for both types of service.

In-House (Service Center)

Lab equipment is typically serviced on-site, especially if there are several instruments in need of maintenance or repair. Smaller equipment can often be shipped in-house to the local manufacturer’s service center. Although in-house service is less convenient than on-site service, the process is still simple and straightforward.

After a technical case has been escalated, a manufacturer will provide complimentary shipping services for your equipment. Once received, an inspection will be performed to identify any issues, along with a customer review. Technicians will generally meet with a customer via phone or video conference to review the findings and next steps. Once approved, the technician will complete the necessary repairs and safely ship the equipment back to the customer.

If on-demand repairs are needed, the technician will provide a quote you can review that breaks down all the costs associated with the repairs (parts and labor) before they begin. If a service contract is in place, the technician will review next steps but there will be no additional fees associated with the repair/service.

During extended repair periods, customers with service contracts are frequently offered a loaner unit from the manufacturer while they wait for the return shipment. This can help ensure your workflows are not disrupted in the lab.

On-Site Service

Before anyone visits your facility on-site to inspect machinery and make repairs, the technical product team and a local technician will review your case to ensure the technician brings the right parts.

Similar to on-demand in-house services, the technician will provide a summary and estimated quote for authorization before completing any services. That said, the customer will be charged for initial inspections and travel if they deny service and there is no service coverage in place.

However, with a service contract, the customer won’t have to pay any charges associated with the visit, even if they, for whatever reason, choose to decline service. The technician will simply arrive, inspect, and repair whatever equipment is in need of servicing. Most appointments are completed within the promised time frame and work can be resumed smoothly, avoiding any further delays with no hidden fees.

Annual Maintenance

In addition to a standard extended warranty for repairs, some equipment types may also have annual or semi-annual maintenance plans included in service contracts. Equipment maintenance helps ensure the instrument runs seamlessly without any issues, increasing equipment life.

If specialized units are not properly maintained per the manufacturer’s recommendation, it may result in unnecessary and more frequent downtime, leading to additional expenses and even possible equipment failure. Regular inspections are extremely important.

Proper service coverage and contracts include preventative maintenance for specialized units, and can be easily completed on-site by the local technician. There are no additional fees associated with these maintenance offerings in contracts, saving companies money upfront, resulting in a longer equipment lifespan and higher equipment performance.

Contract Renewal

While manufacturers always offer service contracts for purchase, renewing them on an annual basis can result in additional unexpected fees. On top of that, manufacturers typically raise the costs of service contracts about 10-12% each year. If you are in a lab with one, two, or several different equipment brands and models, it can easily become a financial burden and disruptive administrative task to manage service contract renewals for each unit.

In addition to buying equipment, purchasing several years worth of contracts upfront can result in prohibitive upfront costs, draining cash balances, and decreasing cash flow.

It is possible to make contract management and renewal easier. Leasing lab equipment or securing it via a loan can sometimes include service coverage in the total cost of the lease or loan. Not all financing companies offer this. In Excedr’s case, our leases include service coverage, which does not require you to renew each year and makes contract management easy.

Is It Worth Having Service Coverage?

New equipment purchases alone can be very costly. Adding service coverage can be an additional upfront cost that scientists may not factor into their initial budgets. For example, when you buy a car, opting out of adding on an extended warranty is common. You may be thinking, “Will I need this? Will it cover all repairs? Is it worth the value?” It is not an easy financial decision to make.

When it comes to equipment protection, service coverage provides unlimited access to escalated technical support, minimizes long repair and spare part lead times, and includes annual preventative maintenance and routine maintenance tasks to increase the life cycle of the equipment.

The process is simple, quick, and always completed by the manufacturer’s technicians. Due to the long-term use and costs of lab equipment, service protection is highly recommended and always worth adding. It can ensure the operational efficiency of your equipment during its life cycle.

When you lease through our program, you can spread the costs of expensive lab equipment over several years and opt-in for service coverage for the entire duration of your equipment leasing term. That means selecting and managing a contract just once rather than renewing a contract several times and adjusting for any increases in contract costs as time goes on. Lower repair and maintenance costs, less administrative work.

Excedr always has you covered with service coverage for the duration of your equipment leasing term. Our manufacturer service coverage includes an extended warranty period offering unlimited repairs, along with any manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedules included in the service contracts.

Our operating leases factor in monthly service contract fees, with a set monthly payment for the leasing term. Regardless of the frequency, need, or degree of repairs, our equipment leases will have you covered, providing direct access to manufacturer technicians as needed.

Resources for founders, scientists, and the life sciences community.