Just How Can I Achieve 'Asset Light Expansion' in my Growth Markets? Part 2

Examining the options in terms of outsourcing, partnering or building your own laboratory facilities for quality and safety testing

30 September 2014

Measurement and Testing – 'a Means to an End' or 'an End in Itself'?

Many modern products (biological, chemical or electro-technical) have advanced to the point that analytical science can barely keep up with detection limits, spatial resolution, elemental and molecular sensitivity and specificity required for their development and support. Often the very latest generation of analytical instrument is required. Thus, the modern analytical laboratory has become disproportionately more expensive to maintain than ever before and presents a steep barrier when contemplating establishing a new laboratory facility at home or overseas.

To justify building your own, you seek to maximize the utilization of costly equipment and skilled resources in order to see a reasonable return on investment. Also, to be of best value for supporting your products with original and innovative thinking, design of experiment, failure investigation etc, it helps for those local experts to be stretched to investigate wider ranges of problems from adjacent fields.

But are you sure this is a 'core and strategic' task for you, or is it 'strategic - not core'?

In today's economy when assessing a new laboratory build in a new market territory, it is vital to consider all of the factors behind that decision.

  • What is the real capital outlay and the cost and timescale of procurement?
  • How long is the real timeline for getting into operation and all associated regulatory hurdles?
  • What is the realistic prognosis for the product's lifetime in that market?
  • Have you fully considered the time and cost of associated laboratory information systems and accreditations?
  • What is the local availability of experts and skills in that territory and how you nourish their development?
  • How best will you achieve international customer, regulator and industry recognition of the capability?

If you cannot be satisfied on all criteria, it may make sense to find a partner with its own build plans that could be modified to support all of your needs, but costing a great deal less than a new build plan. This not only offers the prospect of vastly reduced outlay by defraying costs to a strategic partner, but your partner will also bring vast experience in the measurement arena.

From technical specifications of equipment, through lab design and 'fit out' ergonomics and 'designed in' operations for optimum efficiency, to fast tracked accreditation through to better economies in  purchasing power, the right partner can offer many advantages. These also include an international resource pool of skilled experts to make a start-up happen on time and the ability to attract, train and qualify local experts.

How do I make Partnering in Testing and Measurement Happen?

As the Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC) industry has matured, so have the partnering models to ensure prioritized turnaround for your work, security of intellectual property, true product intimacy and shared risk/reward.

Across many sectors including Life Sciences, Healthcare, Energy and Consumer Products, TIC companies can offer you 'in house' support under an 'out of house' model, offering capital avoidance, faster entry and 'on demand' use. The strongest can key your organization into a larger, global 'virtual laboratory'.

They offer expert help and knowledge on all of the regulatory requirements associated with the new market and even brokerage and auditing services to help you build and validate your local supply chains.

It is important to assess quickly their ability to meet your needs and critically, that your strategies truly converge as this is the only way to achieve a win-win.

Andrew Swift is a Senior Vice President of Intertek. He joined Intertek in 2001 to lead the integration and development of the Group's new Technology Centre at Sunbury on Thames, UK. Andrew then led the global laboratory outsourcing growth strategy for Intertek’s largest division before establishing the Analytical Services Division in 2008, moving on to become Executive Vice President and then Global Business Line Leader of its Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals business. Both of Andrew's degrees are from UMIST, and he is a Chartered Chemist of the Royal Society of Chemistry. His experience makes Andrew Swift well qualified to help address many of the key issues faced by local and global businesses when considering outsourcing their testing needs.