It seems contradictory, though it is the undeniable truth. While the importance of petroleum analysis increases, purchasing budgets have downsized over the last few years and lab managers have to refl ect about how to purchase in a cost-effective way. This mindset goes way beyond exploring the market in search of the best prices. It is all about spreading out the cost over the next following years of usage. A well-known concept as Total Cost Of Ownership also takes multiple other parameters in account: maintenance costs, cost of downtime, energy consumption, etc. Besides that, verifi cation of test results is immensely valuable to reduce various costs occurring in the production process.

Sustainable business is to be found in every part of a company’s structure. In every department, a vision of durability and adjustments in the purchase processes may drastically reduce long- term costs. Purchasing the most affordable instrument without considering future costs that involve maintaining the continuous accessibility of the instrument or reducing downtime will only end up in a pile of needless costs and frustration. This total cost of ownership approach is an enormous step forward in cost effective buying. However, the total cost of performing a trustworthy analysis is what really matters. Reducing the total cost of your lab on a long-term vision is good; continuously improving processes to obtain the same result with even lower costs is better.

Purchasing: Buying a durable solution instead of an instrument

The lab manager came in excited this morning; the budget for the development of a new testing area for jet fuel has fi nally been approved. Don’t disturb him today, he is busy searching the internet and requesting quotations for a fl ash point tester, a freezing point analyser and a cloud point tester. He has already found some affordable 2nd hand equipment, which will certainly save him some money. In this situation, the real purpose of the purchase is passed by. The new laboratory activity is an investment with the aim to increase the turnover and the profi t. Therefore simply buying some good looking instrumentation is only part of the solution that is actually required.

To maximise the durability on the long term, the operational lifetime of the analyser will highly affect the cost per analysis. Even a one-year difference in lifetime will be signifi cant when dividing the cost compared to analysis turnover. An extended lifespan can only be ensured when the system is properly used and cleaned by the operator and when it is proactively maintained. Therefore, choosing an instrument that is easy to clean and has an extended availability of replacement spares is highly recommended.

Maintenance and service: From necessary evil to provider of durability

European Lab Services (ELS) has over 25 years of experience in verifi cation and service of petroleum analysers. But those are only the fundamentals. The real activity is based on an uttermost important question: ‘How can proactive service support be the key to durability instead of being the necessary evil that only involve costs?’

Reducing the usage cost of an instrument starts with the most obvious part: the cleaning. Without the right cleaning of test cells, periodic calibration and verifi cation, results will certainly start to deviate after a certain time with many discussions as a result. A different example is the cleaning of cooling vents, keeping a cooling circuit operational will drastically reduce energy costs.

A proactive service approach allows the laboratory user to avoid downtime. Strict maintenance methods are applied to make sure that the service is performed in the correct way with respect for the instrument, causing minimum time loss and the delivery of representative results. A short periodic maintenance action

optimises the accessibility of the instrument and the involvement of company engineers will be reduced to a minimum level.

Example case: The effect of proactive maintenance

A viscosity analyser that is frequently used costs around €50k. Without any intervention the expected lifespan of this instrument will be 10 years, disregarding downtime and maintenance costs for defects. This means a total cost of €5K per year for this analysis.

When an annual maintenance is performed, the expected lifespan of the instruments is 15 years. With a yearly cost of approximately €1K, this will result in a total cost of €65k spread over 15 years. As a result you will be able to perform 15 years of analysis for €4,3K per year.

In order to reach this lifespan without any maintenance, a new analyser has to be purchased after 10 years. Half of the purchasing price has to be add up resulting in a total cost of €75k. Which means a difference in Total Cost Of Ownership of €10k spread over 15 years.

See Graph 1.


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